I recently had the honor of being a judge in the Mississippi Region VI Science and Engineering Fair. Students came from George, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson and Stone counties, entering nearly 700 exhibits. While adult/parent encouragement is recommended, the rules are clear, “it is the child’s project.”
Categories included biochemistry, medicine and health, robotics and intelligent design, Earth and environmental sciences, engineering and microbiology. There was a Code of Conduct for students and parents. The transformation that occurred when the parents/adults were required to leave the exhibit hall was remarkable. With parents present during the pre-judging safety/compliance inspections, many students were shy and often looked to parents to answer questions. Once the students were on their own, they transformed into brilliant scientists, full of confidence and knowledge.
I am a health-care professional, and I must say, that day I learned a lot about tooth decay, effects of cigarette smoking on lungs, drinking water quality, and effectiveness of popular bacterial cleaners used in the home. I don’t remember being this knowledgeable when I submitted my “erupting volcano” project when I was their age.
Kudos to the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources for sponsoring this event. Most of all, congratulations to the students for a job well done. They were courteous, articulate and knowledgeable. I was fortunate to see and interact with our future health-care providers, engineers, environmentalists and scientists, and I was impressed. I have renewed faith in our future generations and I’m convinced we’ll be in good hands.