What’s that, you may ask? 

According to Wikipedia, “A science slam is a scientific talk where scientists present their research in a given time frame in front of a non-expert and live audience. The focus lies on teaching current science to a diverse audience in an entertaining way. The presentation is judged by the audience. A science slam is a form of science communication.”

Six super geek categories so more can win!

  1. Systems (HPC engineers, administrators and storage specialists).
  2. Outreach (communications, external relations, education/training, facilitation, media relations, sales, and marketing).
  3. Network engineering.
  4. Cybersecurity, privacy and compliance.
  5. Data and library science.
  6. Domain science & engineering; scientific software (use, development and facilitation)

It’s important that everyone–well, at least legislators and taxpayers aged 13 and older–understand what we do well enough to support a continued public investment in research, advanced computation and data science.

Normally, performances would be presented live in a café or night-club venue. But the pandemic forced us to re-imagine the activity, and the virtual show must go on!

Please join Master of Ceremonies and Cybersecurity Thought Leader Mohamad Qayoom (PwC) for an enjoyable and thought-provoking event.

Laughter is the cure for the quarantine blues!

Let Mohamad take you away for an hour or two.

If you submit a video to the competition, you might also be flying to your favorite conference destination–maybe it’s held some place you’ve always wanted to visit!

Yes, you heard me right–there are thirteen prizes, including six scholarly travel awards!

  • Six second prizes valued at $675 (a full SC20 tech program waiver; including workshops and tutorials);
  • Six first prizes valued at $1,475 ($800 scholarly travel award plus a full SC20 tech program waiver; including workshops and tutorials valued at $675);
  • One grand prize worth $5,475 ($4,000 GP plus the $800 first prize combined for a scholarly travel award, and an SC20 tech program waiver; including workshops and tutorials valued at $675).

Scholarly travel awards will be issued post-pandemic, or deferred; use them to travel to the professional conference of your choice (not to exceed the award amount). They are redeemable when our generous sponsor, Google, allows their employees to return to work, and travel to events without restrictions. So, at this point, that’s no sooner than July, 2021. This gives those of us with wander lust something to look forward to!

The Rules

Participants must be 21 years of age or older. They must hold a professional staff appointment at a commercial or academic institution, run a startup, or be enrolled as a full-time student in a university or college STEM program of study; anywhere! All are welcome and encouraged to participate.

Submissions must be in a video format, and at least five but no longer than eight minutes in length.

Content should be informative, entertaining, memorable and inspiring. It can be amusing, but not at the expense of someone else’s dignity. We welcome themes that reflect the challenges faced while working and learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. What have we learned from having to quickly transition from in-person to fully online education, training and conferencing? How has our budget been affected (besides a much lower dry-cleaning bill since we spend more time in our pajamas)? Have interpersonal relationships suffered, or have we successfully achieved broader engagement since more students from historically Black colleges and universities, minority serving institutions, and international schools can participate without having to travel? But does synchronous delivery alienate those who live in the opposite hemisphere? Are we closing the K-12 digital divide by normalizing online education, or are we adding more roadblocks to success for those who lack access to cyberinfrastructure? Who have we left behind, and how can our community better serve them?

The video’s theme should reflect the submitter’s specialization (see six categories above) and be communicated so that it’s comprehended by a 13-year-old audience (English language proficient this time). Avoid jargon or acronyms that children wouldn’t understand, unless they’re used to make a point.

Music (rap is great!), poetry, dance, skits and claymation are all acceptable options. Please avoid political, religious, and adult humor (well, PG13 is okay; we may enlist some eighth-graders to help judge, so please keep it clean). Common global enemies, such as the pandemic and climate change, are fair game!

Each contestant may only submit one video, under a single category. Team efforts are accepted—this is a great way to engage your children as you shelter-in-place—but each video must be submitted by the person vying for a single award and waiver. Only one person per submission will be considered.

Files must be uploaded to a publicly-available online resource, for example YouTube. Participants must agree to make their video publicly-available for one year; all winners must submit the file (in an mp4 file format) to STEM-Trek after SC20 so they can be posted to this website indefinitely. Each video must be accompanied by a .doc script that provides text details to describe what’s happening in the visual interpretation.

For examples, visit our YouTube playlist.

Questions? Contact info@stem-trek.org.

Submit your entry here!


All submissions must be received by October 16, 2020 midnight submitter’s local time.

The initial dozen–six first-prize and six second-prize–winners will be notified by October 30 so their SC20 registration waivers can be processed in time for the conference, November 9-19.

The six first prize winners will then compete for the grand prize during an event planned during SC20 (TBD–watch this site and social media for updates). While this event is not part of the official SC20 agenda, the conference will co-market our activity.

Attendees will determine the grand prize winner based on their ‘applause’ or a polling mechanism, and the grand prize winner will be announced on this website and via SC communication channels. Watch the STEM-Trek site for updates.

Travel arrangements will be made by STEM-Trek, and we will apply discounts, donations and other advantages so the money goes as far as possible.

REPEAT: Travel awards may be redeemed when our generous sponsor, Google, allows their employees to travel and return to work.


Many thanks to Mohamad Qayoom (PwC) for serving as master of ceremonies, Noxolo Moyake (South African Centre for HPC) for designing our cover image, and Alana Romanella (Virginia Tech) for her help with organizing our review committee.

We appreciate our generous sponsors; thank you SC20 and Google!!!