Students compete at the 2015 Herndon Science Competition

Herndon Science Competition

Robert H. Herndon Memorial Science Competition

This year’s competition

2018 will be the 41st year of the Robert H. Herndon Memorial Science Competition. The El Segundo Competition will be held on May 24, 2018. Middle and high school students are invited to submit their experiment and essay abstracts for consideration.

Information regarding the DC Area Competition will be available soon.


Click below to register for the competition in your area

El Segundo button East Coast button

Video: Check out a video featuring last year’s group of young competitors.

For more information: please e-mail us at [email protected].

Competition History

In 1977, The Aerospace Corporation established the Robert H. Herndon Memorial Science Competition. This event provides middle and high school students in Los Angeles County an opportunity to participate annually in the El Segundo portion of the essay and/or science experiment competition. In 2000, a Washington-area Herndon Memorial Science Competition was established and is also held annually.

The award is named for the late Robert H. Herndon, an Aerospace engineer and manager who served as a mentor for many at the corporation. The competition events are designed to stimulate interest among minority students in science, engineering, and technology, and increase diversity across the aerospace industry.

Competition Categories

EXPERIMENT COMPETITION | The experiment portion of the competition is divided into middle and high school sections. Teams compete by demonstrating their science experiments for a team of judges representing Aerospace and the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC). High school and middle school entries are judged separately.

Each team must have a faculty sponsor and is assigned an advisor from the corporation. Up to $150 is given to each team as reimbursement for experiment materials.

ESSAY COMPETITION | Middle and high school students may also participate in the essay portion of the competition. Submitted essays must be original in content and each essay must feature a scientific topic. Teachers and the Aerospace advisor can provide some support and background in researching the essay subject matter. Submitted essays are read by a review committee of Aerospace employees and SMC personnel.

Facility Tour

Essay students who do not compete in the experiment portion of the competition are invited to tour the corporation’s laboratories and attend panel discussions on various topics.


Each member of the winning experiment team will be awarded a prize.

A first-, second-, and third-place team will be selected for both middle and high school participants.

In the essay competition, first- and second-place awards will be given based on the merits of the essays submitted in both the middle and high school categories.