Application Process

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


The following criteria must be met to apply:

  • Enrolled as a junior or senior at a Duval or St. Johns County High School for the upcoming school year or a member of the Joe Berg Seminar Series
  • 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 another one for a second choice, in case the first one is filled. These abstracts must follow the guidelines of the International Science and Engineering Fair and also identify a laboratory in which to work.

Use the SPARK Student Checklist for more details on required forms and the process.

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 will be 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) will be 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. Student must compete in either the Northeast Florida Regional Science Fair or the St. Johns County Science Fair. If the student attends a DCPS school, then the student also needs to submit to the DCPS Secondary Science Fair in January.
  5. Students are expected to compete in the state and international science fairs, if their projects are selected.
  6. Students are responsible for their own transportation.