Science fair projects are one of the best learning experiences a student can undertake. They have the potential to get students interested in science, engineering and mathematics.
Every year, Beaufort County high school and middle school students compete in regional science fairs. The winners are eligible to enter the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. This is an excellent way to earn significant prizes, qualify for scholarships, and distinguish a college application.
It is also important for America’s future. Today, America ranks 28th in the world for science and 35th for mathematics. If we are to maintain our competitive edge on the world stage, we have to put more emphasis on science — and science fairs are an especially motivating way to interest students.
The public and private schools in this area do emphasize the importance of science fairs and indeed lead the state in promoting student participation. The teachers involved are dedicated and spend many hours supporting their students in preparation for the competitions. It is essential that we as a community support the teachers and volunteers who give their time to foster scholastic excellence in the sciences.
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Science fair projects are an important part of the learning process and develop analytical abilities and critical thinking. They provide the opportunity to interface with experienced experts in a wide range of scientific fields.
The fairs are supported by a nonprofit, volunteer organization called the Sea Island Regional Science Fairs. Its members spend many hours judging students projects. Most are retired professionals from the engineering, scientific and medical fields, with support from dedicated teachers.
Schools in Beaufort and Jasper counties hold science fairs for elementary, middle and high school students. The fairs are held between January and April; as many as 30 schools participate. The number of student projects varies from 20 to 100 for each fair. The winners of the regional fairs are eligible to participate in the international fair held each year. The 2018 fair will be held in Pittsburgh.
The schools send four to six high school students to compete internationally and two to three middle school students participate as observers. This program is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Each year, approximately 1,800 high school students from more than 75 countries are awarded the opportunity to showcase their independent research and compete for more than $4 million in scholarships and prizes.
Sea Island Regional Science Fairs has sponsored many amazing students.
In 2016, a young lady from Bluffton High School placed fourth in the world in her category for a research project that created an artificial muscle using monofilament nylon fishing line. This material may one day help in the development of prosthetics.
Other notable projects have included building a wind tunnel to analyze the effects of stealth aircraft design on aerodynamic performance.
In the field of biology, a local student experimented with the effects of fibroin protein to test whether the antibacterial properties inhibit the growth of E. coli.
A program called STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — is popular in the early grades. The STEM program stimulates interest and enthusiasm in science fairs and sometimes sparks a lifelong interest, leading to an important career in a science-related field.
As the number of students and the interest in the sciences increases, we really need additional team members to support the upcoming fairs. If you are interested in using your knowledge and experience to help stimulate the study of science and engineering in our schools, or if you know someone who may be interested, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prospective judges will be invited to attend an orientation meeting to provide details of judging criteria and protocols. I guarantee you will enjoy the experience.
The Coastal Discovery Museum is very of supportive, allowing us to use its facilities and helping us recruit new judges.
Please visit our web site at www.sciencefairsbftsc.org.