The weather is finally turning to Spring… so what’s up for the weekend? At our house, the schedule is often packed with the kids’ sports and other activities and the weekends fly by too fast. But, maybe you can find time to squeeze in something different – the state science fair.
The Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF) for high school students is being held this Saturday, May 4 from 12:30 to 3:00 at MIT’s Johnson Athletics Center in Cambridge. It’s open to the public and it’s free.
At the fair, 300 of the “best of the best” high school science fair research and design projects will be on display from cities and towns across Massachusetts. This group of regional winners will present their projects to the judges at MIT to win $500,000 worth of scholarships and prizes.
Organizations such as MSSEF truly believe that these young scientists and engineers are the wave of the future, and put together an impressive event to showcase their efforts. Science and engineering fairs increase awareness of, exposure to, and participation in inquiry-based learning through the development of science and engineering projects. They then celebrate that learning through the science fair exhibition, judging, and awards.
At the national level, President Obama recently hosted the third annual White House Science Fair and met with about 100 student winners from a broad range of STEM competitions across the country.
Participating in a science fair—at any level—can inspire confidence and foster curiosity. Beyond merely learning about the steps of the scientific process, these students actually experience them. A survey of past participants of the Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair found that more than half were pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related fields.
But the benefits are not only for the participants. Visiting a science fair with your kids can get them thinking about how science and engineering have an effect on their daily lives. And, although some projects are pretty complex, the most interesting ones are those where the student can explain their experiment or design challenge in simple terms, so even elementary school children will gain a level of understanding.
Here are some upcoming and past project titles that give you a sense of what you may learn:
- Can Baby Diapers Save Future Farming?
- Optimist or Pessimist: Can You be Influenced?
- Cooling without Electricity: Engineering a New Refrigerator
- Brace Yourself: Redesigning the Charleston Bending Back Brace
- Evaluating Algae for Oil Extraction
Too often, we get caught up in our daily routines and fail to think ahead and expose our kids to something that may light a spark about future studies or careers. Visiting a science fair can do just that.
Here are some listings of science fairs, in case you want to check out one that is local to you. If the date has already past, mark next year’s event on your calendar now:
Did you ever participate in a science & engineering fair? Do you feel that it helped shape your higher education studies or career?
Photo courtesy of MSSEF