Kiwanis invites public to view finalist science projects

March 4, 2009

Can you make a cloud? Will a tomato plant grow faster upside down? Are birds attracted by the color of a feeder? Does a leather football go farther than a plastic football? These are some of the questions local students have been pondering and researching to submit projects for the 2009 Kiwanis Community Science Fair.

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of teachers, Kiwanis volunteers, and students have worked hard to make this year's fair a record-setting event. This year 3300 students have created about 2100 projects, submitted on an individual basis or in teams of two or three or entire classes. The 2009 level of participation represents a 10 percent increase over 2008, also a record year.

The best projects (230 in all) have been selected from 11 local schools to gather together and be judged on March 9-10. The public is invited to come and see the finalist projects on Wednesday, March 11 from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. at the Fine Art Center located on 60th Street south of Carefree Highway. Also on March 11 at this location, the public is invited to attend the awards ceremonies at 5:30 pm for grades K-5 and 6:30 pm for grades 6-12.

Winners will walk away with cash prizes, medals, and a $2500 scholarship to Grand Canyon University.

Several factors have contributed to this year's successful outcome, according to Jim Walborn, chair of the Carefree Kiwanis Science Education Committee. He remarks, "We have added some new computer automation to handle the tremendous amount of application and scoring data, which has helped greatly to keep up with the year-to-year growth. Also, Kiwanis members have done more mentoring of students this year than ever before, both one-on-one and for groups. Many Kiwanians have expressed their pleasure to me in seeing the kids grow in their knowledge of science."

Over the past few weeks, the Kiwanis Science Committee has worked with a team of 43 judges to make sure each project is given full consideration in competing with other projects to become a finalist and be eligible for winning awards and prizes. Each judge uses the same form, evaluating a project on the basis of several factors including complexity, scientific accuracy, creativity, and presentation. It takes a judge about two hours to complete their scoring at any given fair. This year there were 230 judging opportunites at 16 fairs, and 7 people judged at 10 or more fairs.