Pop! Clack! Buzz! Science Fair Winners Invent

From underwater robots to marshmallow cannons, future Nobel Prize winners show off their stuff.

The world's great scientists weren't always great. At some point, they were just li'l scientists, exhibiting their experiments and inventions at that enduring educational event known as the science fair. We take a look at some of the most recent science fair winners -- and remember their names because you'll likely be hearing from them again.

Each year, the

White House Science Fair

welcomes students from a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions throughout the country. Here, President Obama meets Sergio Corral and Isela Martinez from Phoenix, Ariz., leaders of the robotics program from Carl Hayden High School.


Google Science Fair

is an annual, global competition for participants aged 13 to 18. The

most recent winning project

came from 16-year olds Sophie Healy-Thow, Emer Hickey and Ciara Judge from Ireland. Their project, which they worked on for three years before entering the competition, showed that a bacteria called rhizobium naturally found in soil has the potential to speed up cereal crop germination.

Winners of the 2015 Intel ISEF event: Karan Jareth, 18, won $50,000 for his device designed to safely cap undersea oil wells. Nicole Ticea, 16, won $50,000 for developing a new kind of HIV test, and Raymond Wang, 17, won $75,000 for inventing a better air filtration system for passenger planes.

The biannual

USA Science & Engineering Festival

is sponsored by a consortium of technology companies to encourage participation in STEM programs in American schools. More than 2,000 schools participated in the 2014 festival, which drew more than 325,000 visitors to Washington, D.C.

Each year, the

Lemelson-MIT Program



, a multi-day science fair and expo for young inventors grades 9 through 12. Here, students from

University High School

in Irvine, Calif., exhibit customized UAVs from their aerial wilderness distress monitor and search system.


Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

(JSHS), sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of Defense, encourages STEM studies in high school with year-round workshops, lab visits and panel discussions. Laura Beth Fulton, of Egg Harbor Township High School in New Jersey, won first place winner in the 2014 national competition with her project: "Development of a Novel, Safe Method for In Vitro Recreation of the Tooth Enamel Layer."


Siemens Competition

awards scholarships each year to students in math, science and technology. Peter Tian, a high school senior from Hilliard, Ohio, hugs another 2014 competitor after winning the $100,000 grand prize for his mathematical research on drones and self-driving cars.

High school junior Han Jie "Austin" Wang of Vancouver, Canada, won one of three prizes at this year's BioGENEius Challenge, sponsored by the

Biotechnology Institute

. Wang's project, which sought news ways to identify genes that help bacteria improve their ability to generate electricity in

microbial fuel cells

(MFCs), won in the category of Global Environment Challenge in medical biotechnology. The other two categories included the Global Sustainability Challenge in agricultural biotechnolog and the Global Environment Challenge in industrial/environmental biotechnology.

Science fairs actually emerged in the 1940s as year-end events for science clubs in American high schools. The idea has since percolated into American pop culture at large, as evidenced here by ace junior scientist Ralph Wiggum from "The Simpsons."