Science Clubs of America

1941

An activity of Science Service

1719 N Street NW

Washington DC

Although long remembered as a club in many a high school or college, originally the Science Club of America (SCA) was open to all ages. That being said, who doesn't remember the annual Science Fair in school all across America while growing up?

The SCA was the result of the efforts of the Science Service to unify hundreds of science clubs that were active in neighborhoods, youth groups and schools. The Science Service was an agency that - in effect - translated technical jargon and breakthroughs into understandable information that was printed in the newspapers (and other outlets.). Prior to 1941 local science clubs worked with local colleges or may have joined with the American Institute, that had been an umbrella for many "Junior Science Clubs." Science Service and American Institute work together to form the SCA, with the American Institute then focusing its attention on science in New York City.

This Science Clubs of America charm is only 1/2" tall, same size as the membership pin.

In 1942 Science Service launched the first of its scholarship contests: National Science Talent Search, open to all senior high school students in the continental United States who were able to meet college entrance exams. On May 15th, those students, from all across the continental US, were given a Science Talent Search (written) examination. In addition, they had to write and submit prior to June 1, 1942 an essay on "How Science can help win the War." Their school also had to submit their scholastic records and personal achievement cards. From that, 40 finalists were selected for an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. in July, being paid for by Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company. 

The winners, one boy and one girl, were awarded a 4-year scholarship worth $2400. 18 others winners were awarded one-year $200 scholarships. The first winners of the National Science Talent Search were Paul Erhard Teschan of Shorewood, WI - who wanted to be a chemist, and Marina Prajmovsky of Farmingdale, NY - who was born in Finland to Russian parents, and wanted to become a medical technician. Both ended up becoming doctors; Marina specialized in eye diseases and Paul became in internist at Walter Reed Hospital.

Popular Science December 1951

Originally the Science Talent Search continued with having one boy and one girl winning the top prize each year. In 1950 the program changed to a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th place winners - either boy or girl. The scholarship prizes were pretty well stuck throughout the years, slowly creeping up in the late 1940's. However, in 1958 the top prize was increased to $7500 scholarship.

Medium blue version of the Science Clubs of America patch

The 1st National Science Fair, sponsored by the Science Clubs of America, in conjunction with the Science Service Agency was launched in 1950 in Philadelphia, PA. Boys and girls competed in separate categories. In 1960, the name of the fair changed to International Science Fair, reflecting several years worth of international entries into the competition. 

Dark blue version of the Science Clubs of America patch

In the mid-1960's a quiet name change happened with the Science Talent Search competition; more and more it was referred to as Westinghouse's Science Talent Search, dropping the sponsorship of the Science Clubs of America. Westinghouse had always been the financial contributor of the Science Talent Search. In 1968 this newspaper clipping was used as a space filler in several newspapers, almost as a last gasp:

 

 

 

Certainly, local clubs survived longer, but the national presence of the Science Clubs of America diminished greatly after this.

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Last Updated June 14, 2020

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