I didn’t sleep very well last night, and I’m going to pretend that was solely because I was bothered by not being 100% honest with my readers…so here goes. Why am I judging at ISEF? And why am I giving it so much coverage on blog?
Second things first, Intel is picking up the tab for a trip that I would very much have liked to take even on my own dime. They wanted blog coverage and contacted one of the big-name Sbers who passed the word along. Much as I am sure Intel would have liked PZs blog statistics, they got me. And I am thrilled to help increase visibility for a really worthwhile initiative.
You see, back in the day, I had one of the project displays that I’ve been showing you. I was a nervous high school student competing at ISEF, sharing my research with the judges, and making friends from across the country. Science fairs were easily the most influential part of my pre-college education and probably the sole reason that I am a scientist today. Science fairs took a nerdy, socially awkward, bookworm and transformed her into someone with speaking, writing, investigative skills, and with confidence to take on the world. I’m not exaggerating here.*
So whenever I get a chance I try to give back to the organizations that helped me along the way. I’ve helped mentor science fair research projects. I’ve judged at local, regional, and state science fairs. And this is my second time judging ISEF. I can say from the perspective of both the student and the judge, that the judging process is the (most nerve-wracking and) the highlight of the science fair experience.
*See Emily’s comment on a previous post for the perspective of another former science fair student.