Science Fair keeps growing

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2008

More than 140 projects were entered in the 16th annual Southeast Alaska Regional Science Fair, held in conjunction with the University of Alaska's Experimental Discoveries in Geoscience Education program, on March 28 and 29 in the Marie Drake gymnasium. But only two individuals and one team will get to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Augusta, Ga., this year.

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Abby Lowell / Juneau Empire
Abby Lowell / Juneau Empire

"The fair has grown every year," said Jonathan Smith, Juneau-Douglas High School science teacher. "Five years ago, we became a regional fair. Before that, we used to be just a school fair and send our students up to Anchorage to compete to go onto the international fair."

According to Smith, the fair is now essentially statewide, including students from the Interior, and several from Sitka.

Typical project areas of study include botany, engineering, medical sciences, animal tracking and observation, and ocean sciences.

"Right now, some of the more memorable projects that are going on in here (include) a range of things, from biology related things," Smith said. "We have a lot of oceanography projects because of where we live - a lot of invertibrate studies." Aside from the typical chemistry or electricity projects, Smith said the fair also includes some social projects.

"A lot of people don't realize that the science fair encompasses the social sciences," he said.

"We don't have as many engineering projects as many fairs do," Smith added. "That's simply because of the emphasis that's put on in the classes that a lot of these students are doing their projects in."

According to Smith, approximately 75 to 80 percent of the projects in the fair were required of students in advanced classes.

"The other students are doing it because of their love of science," Smith said.

According to Koren Bosworkth, there were a total of 106 awards given to 67 student competitors from 52 different donors.

Monetary awards for the fair totalled $6225, not including prizes such as Mount Roberts Tramway and Audubon Cruise tickets, a oneoyear UAS scholarship, a 6-month fitness club membership, a digital video camera, two digital cameras, desktop weather stations, NOAA weather radios, an iPod, memory sticks, T-shirts, bags, hats, towels, stethoscopes, coffee mugs, binoculars, medallions and engraved prize plaques.

"There's a lot of special awards as well as the grand prize," Smith said. "And the special awards are given by all sorts of groups including the Coast Guard and local mining groups and environmental groups, SEACC, (etc.)"

Finalists advancing to the international fair will be Zander Hoke, for his project "Bioluminescence of Dinoflagellates," Caleb McGraw and Joshua Vo for their project, "Arbuscular Mycorrhizae Fungi in Southeast Alaska Muskegs," and Nick Parker, for "Use of Bioelectrical Impedance to Construct a Bioenergetics Model for Chinook Salmon."

Observers at the international fair will be Linsey Tomaro and Pauline Zheng for "Is This The End? Trade-offs in Egg Number and Quality With Maternal Age For Eastern Bering Sea Snow Crab."

Although Atlanta will be an exciting challenge for these science students, fair director Koren Bosworth said funds are limited.

"Because of the huge increase in airfare costs, the Southeast Alaska Regional Science Fair organizing committee is having trouble covering the cost of sending its winning students on to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Atlanta in May," Bosworth said. "If supporters can help us with donations or miles, we will be able to send our full complement of students."

For more information on the science fair or to make donations, e-mail or call Bosworth at 586-4837.

• Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at or 523-2272.

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