science fairs

Amy Walker agenbite at asterix.bio.sunsb.edu
Wed Jul 12 18:30:51 EST 1995


In article <Pine.SUN.3.91.950712080244.8629F-100000 at piccolo>,
ravena at CCO.CALTECH.EDU (Karen Allendoerfer) wrote:

>         We've had a couple of postings about science fair judging
recently, and 
> this brought up a few questions in my mind about the value of science 
> fairs in general.  In part I'm writing this post because I've never been 
> in a science fair myself, and I wanted to get more information, 
> especially from people who've had positive experiences, since from the 
> outside looking in a great deal of what I've seen has been rather negative.
> 
Hi,  I've both participated in science fair as a student, and judged some
in the past few years, and I think the questions you've raised are very
good.  We gave the award last year to a student who had done tons of work
mostly himself (he'd been helped a little by his high school teacher)
rather than to a student who had followed a post-doc around in his fathers
lab. Both were nice projects, well presented.  The rationale was that the
"independent" student understood what he had done. Since I'd hate to
discourage kids from working in research labs, even when they might not
grasp all the fine points, I'd like to see science fairs have separate
divisions set up for homegrown vs. research lab projects. 

As for my participation in science fair, I tested my gerbils for color
vision.  When I looked at my old lab notes a few years ago I saw page
after page which said "It didn't work." Now its 18 years later and I'm
still struggling through my experiments. The point of this is that I think
kids learn alot more about really doing science from a project they can do
themselves. 

Amy Walker
Dept. of Microbiology
SUNY Stony Brook
Stony Brook NY



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