Science Fairs Succumbing to Economy

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Recently, The New York Times published an article about the difficulties local science fairs have had securing funding to support their events. Some of the funding woes stem from state budget cuts whereas others result from sponsors no longer being able to provide support.

Science fairs, in my opinion, are highly valuable experiences for bright young students to begin to develop an appreciation for science and technology as they test their own hypotheses. I have had the privilege of judging numerous student presentations at local science fairs and have always been impressed by their creative project ideas. Many of these students end up in top notch institutions where they are offered scholarships to help nurture their interests and are able to work with leading scientists. In this capacity, they have entered the pipeline to becoming future scientists, physicians, and other important contributors to society. Where would the future of science and technology be without the encouragement of these youth and the support of science fairs?

Source: The New York Times

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I mean, really?? I'm a scientist, and just reading that even made *my* eyes glaze over. If one thing they're trying to convey is the importance and relevance of the scientist's research to GQ readers, what percentage of the readers are really going to walk away with a deeper understanding of what Dr. Jamieson does by reading that description? It would have been a small thing to ask each participant to submit a layman-friendly version of their research (their "elevator talk" description, for example) for GQ to include.

Finally--one of the "scientists" is Dr. Oz. What is he doing in there? One, I would think he's already well-known enough; why not save that spot for another scientist? Two, yes, I know he's actually done research and published, and is on the faculty at Columbia. Fantastic. He's also a serious woo peddler, who has even featured everyone's favorite "alternative" doc, Joseph Mercola, on his talk show, and discussed how vaccines may be playing a role in autism and allergies (despite mounds of evidence to the contrary). This seems to completely contradict their goal of "research funding as a national priority," since Oz is often (and Mercola is always) highly critical of "mainstream medicine." I really don't understand his inclusion, and think it's to the detriment of the rest of the campaign.

I grew up on a farm in a very rural part of the Midwest; science fair and the contacts I made through it were absolutely critical to my career trajectory into science. (of course, I was one of those rare kids in the big competitions who didn't have the support of a major university or research lab - a completely separate issue!)

That is really disappointing to hear. We really need to involve children in science more not less and fairs are great fun way to get them involved.