Application Process

The SPARK Research Mentorship Program is extremely competitive, and the number of high school students selected depends on the availability of faculty mentors. See participating labs for an overview of mentors, research areas and techniques available for students to pursue.


The following criteria must be met to apply:

  • Enrolled as a junior or senior at a school in Duval County or St. Johns County for the upcoming academic year
  • Minimum of 3.5 unweighted GPA
  • Letter of Recommendation from current high school science teacher
  • Letter of Recommendation from current high school guidance counselor or other personnel as determined by school district

Using the Mayo Clinic program abstract form, students are required to write a one-page research abstract for the original research that they wish to pursue, and encouraged to submit a second choice in case the first one is filled.

A Mayo Clinic committee then selects highly qualified candidates for interviews based on the number of faculty mentors. The final screening includes an interview with the student's potential faculty mentor.

Student expectations

  1. Prior to beginning work in the lab, students are required to complete online lab safety training modules.
  2. Lab notebooks will be maintained as documentation of experiments.
  3. A minimum of 20 lab hours per week (weekdays and weekends) are required during the summer for a successful project to be completed for entry in a science fair. When school resumes, a flexible schedule will be set up between the faculty mentor and student.
  4. Students must compete in either the Northeast Florida Regional Science and Engineering Fair or the St. Johns County Science Fair. Students attending a school within Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) also need to submit to the DCPS District Secondary Science Fair in January.
  5. If their projects are selected, students are expected to compete in the state and international science fairs.
  6. Students are responsible for their own transportation.