Spectacular Science

I’ll admit it, I’m a science fair nerd.  Twenty years ago, Eduflack was the West Virginia State Science Fair Grand Prize Winner.  After doing a year-long experiment on the topic of verbal conditioning (whether we are moved by someone saying something is good or bad) and its impact on age groups (young kids, high schoolers, senior citizens), I was actually recognized as having the best science fair project in the entire Mountain State.

The reward?  I represented West Virginia at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) down in Orlando, FL.  While I didn’t win, place, or show in the Behavioral Sciences category at ISEF, I did bring home a specialty award (and some cash for college) from a research group taken by my approach.
Why do I share all this?  This morning, I am flying out to Los Angeles for this year’s ISEF.  Two decades after I brought my display and research study down to Orlando, I now get to be a judge at the ISEF.  And I couldn’t be more excited!
I competed in science fairs for four years in high school.  Three of those years, I competed at the state science fair (once in New Mexico, twice in West Virginia).  Science fairs helped me with my writing, my presentation skills, inquiry and reflection.  It served as my introduction to “research,” a core component to my professional days today (albeit in a different field.)  And I actually enjoyed it (except for putting together those actual displays).
I keep hearing how science fairs are going the way of the dodo, that it doesn’t fit in our standards/assessment-focused world and requires too much time from both the student and teacher.  But I refuse to believe it. 
So I’m really looking forward to setting foot in the exhibit hall today and feeling the excitement, nervousness, and general energy offered by the students gathered.  There are few experiences quite like ISEF, and I’m just tickled I get to revisit one of those high school highlights.

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