AAAS created a series of awards for excellence in science writing in newspapers and magazines, from 1946 through 1953, with support from the Westinghouse Educational Foundation. These early awards were discontinued as other organizations began to offer prizes for good science writing.
However, in 1959, with funding from the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, AAAS reestablished two awards to recognize outstanding writing in newspapers and magazines on the natural sciences and their engineering and technological applications, excluding medicine. The Association established a third award in 1966 for writing in newspapers of less than 100,000 circulation. Awards for radio and television science journalism were added in 1981.
From 1994 to 2008, the prizes became known as the AAAS Science Journalism Awards, with support coming from The Whitaker Foundation. In 2009, The Kavli Foundation assumed support and awards are now known as the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards.