Science fairs are on the rise. Colorado has an extensive network of local and regional fairs that feed into a state-level fair hosted here at CSU and directed by Courtney Butler. The Colorado Science and Engineering Fair feeds into the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Science Fair is the ideal science and math education activity. Students work individually or within small groups and develop a research question, design an experiment, collect and interpret data, and then communicate their conclusions both verbally and in writing in addition to using multiple visual and tactile props.

Students interact with teachers, mentors, family members, and judges. Awards and scholarships are available for top students which help ensure continued participation in STEM fields.

CNS EOC is interested in increasing participation in Science Fair. One way to do that is to encourage schools to integrate research projects into the curriculum rather than just supporting the self-motivated students after school.

Curriculum integration would help level the playing field for students with diverse or rural backgrounds. Wide adoption, however, requires an easy and low-cost way to let busy teachers oversee dozens of student projects. CNS EOC is currently developing such support materials based on the work pioneered by Dr. Stephen Thompson on Small-Scale Science.

Opportunities for CSU Faculty and Grad Students:

  • Mentoring
  • Event volunteering

Oppotunities for CSU Undergraduates:

  • Volunteering

Opportunities for Science Fair Participants and Teachers:

For more information, contact Courtney Butler

“Another, more ambitious step is to introduce some student investigations that more closely approximate sound science. Such investigations should become more ambitious and more sophisticated. Before graduating from high school, students working individually or in teams should design and carry out at least one major investigation. They should frame the question, design the approach, estimate the time and costs involved, calibrate the instruments, conduct trial runs, write a report, and finally, respond to criticism.

Such investigations, whether individual or group, might take weeks or months to conduct. They might happen in and out of school time and be broken up by periods when, for technical reasons, work cannot go forward. But the total time invested will probably be no more than the sum of all those weekly one-period labs that contribute little to student understanding of scientific inquiry.”

– Benchmarks for Science Literacy