Collaboration brings Alabama State Science Fair to Auburn
After serving Alabama for 14 years as a regional science and engineering fair site, Auburn University took on a new challenge this year — hosting the Alabama State Science and Engineering Fair (ASEF). On April 4-8 winners from five regional fairs came together to compete in the official science and engineering fair for Alabama.
The College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, long-time collaborators in hosting the regional fair, welcomed new campus partners this year. The Department of Biosystems Engineering; the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Science and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine collaborated with COSAM and engineering in hopes of expanding the fair to a campus-wide alliance.
“We are so excited for Auburn University to be named the new host of the state science and engineering fair and welcome several hundred of the most promising future scientists and engineers to our campus each year,” stated Mary Lou Ewald, director for COSAM Outreach. “As the new permanent home of the state’s science and engineering fair, we envision building partnerships across campus with any and all units that have a vested interest in impacting the future STEM leaders of Alabama.”
The competition required scientifically gifted middle and high school students to complete a research project from one of eleven categories related to science or engineering. Participants prepared a poster and video summary of their results and presented findings to judges via a virtual interface. Seventeen departments and organizations across campus sponsored a total of $4,000 in cash awards. The Alabama Space Grant Consortium provided additional funding to support the fair.
“The value of science fairs extends far beyond the outcome of a single research question. It is the ultimate example of student-led inquiry,” stated Janie Marino, ASEF director. “Students develop their own question and work with teachers and mentors to design how to test it. They learn how to communicate and present data and conclusions to judges in both written and oral forms. This is a perfect example of a cross-curricular life skill that is pivotal in the development of our future leaders.”
More than 70 judges from across the state worked in teams to determine winners from the junior (6 – 8 grades) and senior (9 – 12 grades) divisions. While the top 10 percent of junior division competitors were awarded the opportunity to advance and compete in the Broadcom Masters Competition, ASEF awarded the top senior division projects the final four state bids to compete at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).
ISEF is the world’s largest pre-college science competition. It provides a forum for students from more than 50 countries, regions and territories to showcase independent research and compete against the top 1,500 students in the world for nearly $4 million in prizes and scholarships. ISEF will take place in Atlanta, Georgia during the week of May 9 – 13, 2022.
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