science fairs

RGyure rgyure at
Wed Jul 12 18:41:32 EST 1995

Regarding the issue of "parental help" in science fairs-- I do think it is
a touchy subject. I'm all for parental involvement-- but I wish parents
would ALLOW their children to express their own creativity. I personally
have judged science fairs, and one student I remember in particular did a
microbiology project-- what stood out for me and the other judges was his
ingenuity--for example, he had found an old record turntable and used it
as a tool for spreading the many Petri plates he used to get his results
(a typical lab device is a rotating platform that spins, the researcher
holds plate spreader still and the spinner does the work...). Anyway, he
won first prize BECAUSE it was clear that he had thought all this up on
his own, and it was clever and insightful. He won over several other
students with very sophisticated projects-- but who couldn't possibly have
done them without serious mentoring (cloning, sequencing, etc.)
So, the judges do have the authority to recognize originality, hard work,
and independent thinking. And teachers of course, play a role in guiding
students as they select topics, and discuss how much their parents
will/should be involved...

Ruth Gyure

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