Science fair dwindles while expo thrives

From the The Brunswick News

Dwindling student participation in the Coastal Georgia Regional Science and Engineering Fair forced College of Coastal Georgia to drop its sponsorship and to seek other ways to get students excited about science.

The college began looking for other science fair-type programs after high school students' participation dropped dramatically from 2009 and 2012, falling from 54 students to only 10, said John Cornell, director of marketing and public relations at the college.

"Folks said they were willing to participate in a science and math expo that would require less preparation than a full-fledged science fair," Cornell said.

After trading the science and engineering fair for a science and math expo this past spring, the college attracted almost 200 students - at least 81 of them in high school, Cornell said.

"The (new) event would be open to all middle and high school students, plus teachers. There needed to be a greater focus on all the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines, not just a science fair.

"We felt like this was the best option because, for starters, we wouldn't struggle to get numbers. The requirements (for the science fair) were that in order to move winners forward (to regional competitions), you have to have 50 entries, and we didn't have that."

The college will continue to host the science and mathematics expo, in an attempt to attract more students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Cornell said.

Even so, Daniel Parshley, project manager for the Glynn Environmental Coalition, an environmental watchdog, still likes the idea of a traditional science fair of experiments and poster board displays.

"A science project isn't just about science," Parshley said. "It is about approaching a new problem with logic and clear thinking, determining what information should be collected to investigate an issue and formulating independent conclusions based on original data. These are skills that serve the student through life and that every employer wants to see."

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Release Date: 8/6/2013
Source: The Brunswick News

By SARAH LUNDGREN