Benefits of Participating
The following statement is excerpted, with thanks, from the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair Web site:
"Why do I need to learn this stuff?"
A science fair project is the ultimate answer to the often asked student question: "Why do I need to learn this stuff, anyway?"
It integrates, into one functional activity, virtually all of the skills and arts that are usually taught separately (sometimes not at all or without obvious "purpose") in many schools. When brought to completion, the project is an amalgamation of reading, writing, spelling, grammar, math, statistics, ethics, logic, critical thinking, computer science, graphic arts, scientific methodology, self-learning of one or more technical or specialty fields, and (if the project qualifies for formal competition) public speaking and defense in front of expert judges. It is, perhaps, the only educational activity that allows students to teach themselves, to take from the established information what they need to discover something exciting and new, and to identify and choose the tools that they need to conduct and conclude their project. When a student completes a science fair project, year after year, through junior and senior high school, the science fair process yields mature, self-confident, skilled, and competitive young leaders who have career goals and the preparation, discipline, and drive to attain them.
Condfidence and the Thrill of Discovery
A science fair project can be self-validating and exciting because it is not just practice. It involves real discovery of little known or even unknown information.
It develops personal power of importance in students, where perhaps none or little existed before. The project usually is based on scientific questions or interests that the students already have, and allows them to develop the questions independently into formal, testable, solvable problems. When such studies are undertaken in earnest, the students often become driven by their projects. Learning the outcome and finding the answer can be an electrifyingly powerful moment of discovery. It proves to students, and to others, that they were successful and that they did it on their own! The result? An ordinary student is motivated to become an excellent student, and an excellent student to become a scholar. Of all the programs that a school might offer a student to improve self esteem, it seems that participation in a science fair is one sure-fire way to build student confidence, challenge potential, and instill the incredible feeling of independent achievement that the successful science fair project provides.
The Many Rewards
Science fair projects can pay off in cash and open the doors of academic opportunity.
Well-done projects generally lead to competition and awards at Intel® ISEF-affiliated regional fairs. First-place winners at regional fairs usually have the opportunity to compete for additional awards in the California State Science Fair. Top first-place winners from junior and senior divisions in many fairs are selected as sweepstakes winners and receive cash awards. Additionally, selected senior sweepstakes winners (the best of the best) go on to compete with other grand prize winners from throughout the world for substantial cash and scholarship prizes at the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
Perhaps most importantly, however, graduating high school students with records of awards for original research or engineering at the regional fair and beyond, have a distinct advantage over other college applicants in being considered and accepted by the schools of their choice. This is because science fair honors rank high among the screening factors used by admissions officers at most top universities.
Lastly, students who participate in regional fairs have their projects evaluated by top local scientists from research and industry. Participants whose projects are judged to be worthy of international competition will be judged by the top scientists of the world. Imagine your student discussing a project with a Nobel Prize winner. The exposure and self confidence such an opportunity generates cannot be quantified.