Area students to display science projects

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Want to go?

What: 47th annual Regional Science Fair

Where: Show Me Center

When: Judging at 11 a.m., open to public at 3:30 p.m.

By Callie Clark ~ Southeast Missourian

Students from about 20 schools throughout Southeast Missouri will travel to the Show Me Center today for the 47th annual Regional Science Fair.

According to Dr. Chris McGowan, co-director of the fair and dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at Southeast Missouri State University, about 150 projects were entered in this year's competition.

Students in grades 7 through 12 will set up their projects this morning, judging will take place around 11 a.m., and the fair will be open to the public from 3:30 to 9 p.m.

Competition at both the junior and senior levels is divided into 12 categories: behavioral and social sciences; biochemistry; botany; chemistry; earth and space science; engineering; environmental science; medicine and health; microbiology; physics; zoology; and math and computer science.

McGowan said winners in each division will receive awards, including several cash prizes donated from area organizations. The top two overall winners will travel to Cleveland in May to compete in the International Science Fair.

"The competition varies from simple projects to very complex, high-class research projects that involved scientists in the region," McGowan said.

McGowan said the United States is experiencing a shortage of people working in science-oriented careers, and there is a large number of people retiring from those fields now.

"We hope science fairs will encourage students to think about science and technology as a career," McGowan said.

Local science teachers say they view the annual fair as an opportunity for their students to stretch their wings a little.

"It's a way for kids to really do science," said Mark Hahn, a Central High School teacher. "In class, the focus is on knowledge and information, but that's not really what science is. It's how you get the information. In a science fair, students actually do science."

Hahn, who currently teaches ecology and earth science to all secondary grade levels, has two students participating in this year's fair.

"I'm sure people will be impressed with the number of projects and the different ideas," Hahn said. "There are some fantastic quality projects at the senior division level. I don't think it gets any better than that from a teaching perspective."

335-6611, extension 128

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