In the spotlight . . .

Author: Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

Where we’ve been and where we’re going . . .

Connecitcut Pathways to Innovation
Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities Symposium
Science Horizons Science Fair
Connecticut Science Fair
Norwalk Community College Academic Festival and Science Fair

One of the greatest rewards, and perhaps greatest challenges for an Applied Science course is to attend a fair or symposium where you share your ideas. You take a risk, and hopefully rise to the challenge. Over the next weeks we will be attending different events. Provide a reflection of your experience. What were the challenges? The rewards? What was the best part? The worst? What surprised you? What advice would you give to others who would follow in your footsteps? Have you been inspired in any way?

21 Responses to “In the spotlight . . .”

  1. Sarah Peck Says:

    I recently went to the first meeting of the Connecticut Pathways to Innovation. It was very interesting to learn about professionals in the field and how they got to be where they are in their careers. The best part of the day was the hands-on portion when we went on a tour of the facilities. The worst part of the day was sitting for such a long time. I was surprised because I did not get a very large chance to hear from other students what was going on at other schools in the area and about other student projects. Unfortunantly, there was very little student-to-student interaction. I was inspired to learn about people’s career paths and how successful people in the field overcame obstacles to get there. It showed me what careers and opportunities are availiable in contemporary science. All in all, it was a pleasant experience that I would recommend to others.

  2. Dan Bunger Says:

    I attended the CT Science Fair on Thursday for the oral presentation to the judges. This was a bit intimidating because I was not really sure what the judges wanted to hear or were thinking. I could tell one judge just did not get (or like) my project. And, by the end, the judges seemed a little apathetic. The worst part of the experience was having to give your presentations many times (2 would have been nice… but they keep coming). But I definitely enjoyed the experience. It was definitely an interesting bunch of people (particularly the kid sitting next to Luke). Also, there was a good atmosphere as people were nice and not especially competitive. There were other perks like the free lunch and the awards (barring the painfully long time it took to hand them out, I wanted to smack all of those junior teams). I would not say that I feel more inspired to continue my work with Geobacter. Maybe, instead, I will do something along the lines of Modeling Auditory Attention by Implementing IHC Movement into Frequency Selectivity of the Inner Ear. But that is just something I have been brainstorming. Good luck to anyone at the special awards ceremony, the Norwalk CC Fair, and a one Dr. Taylor at ISEF.

  3. Sarah Gutbrod Says:

    Presenting my project at the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium was a very rewarding experience. It allowed me the exposure for which I had originally joined Science Research. It was an opportunity to present and hold audience to other presentations in a professional environment. Although the projects were obviously being judged I did not feel that the judges looked down on anyone regardless of their research. They were very optimistic about promoting scientific research, no matter what form it took or the direction it went, at an early, pre-college age. This helped to relieve some of the stress involved in presenting one’s work to professionals who ask very intriguing and well thought-out questions and seem genuinely interested in the work of the students. The repetition of presenting the project to many different viewers at different times is challenging because it is easy to loose track of what was said to which audience and the opportunity is there to forget to present an important concept of the research. The best way to avoid this, I found, is to give an overall synopsis of the entire project start to finish and then focus on the parts that the current audience shows interest in. Know what you want to say before the judges arrive and do not rely on them as a guide for the presentation although there are some who will act as one. I take this experience as an introduction to the field of scientific research and I will definitely continue to pursue it in college next year, however I hope to conduct more quantitative-based research in the future. I will also continue to present research when the occasion arises and I am glad that my first experience presenting will not be at the college level. Congratulations to everyone you participated and received awards at JSHS, Science Horizons and CT Science Fair and Good Luck to all those who have yet to present!

  4. kendra o'connor Says:

    On Saturday, March 11th, I attended the Science Horizons Fair at Ridgefield High School. It was the first science fair that I had ever been too, and at first I was a little freaked out. It didn’t help that I caused a problem when I was registering my project, making all of the other computers shut down while they worked on mine. So I got off to a rocky start. But I would say that besides that, I definatly had a very successful experience. I was a finalist, but I didn’t win any special awards or place. The best part was probably the first judge who interviewed me, asking (once again) if I was planning on going to Mars. On the whole, I had a fair set of judges; none asked me questions that I could not answer, and all gave me plenty of time to talk about my project and my future plans. The worst part was finding out that because I was a finalist, I couldn’t go shopping that afternoon, which was something I was planning on doing. Seeing other students projects around me has inspired me for future ideas of research projects. It also reminded me that not all science careers take place in a stuffy lab. I had a lot of fun, and I would recommend participating in Science Horizons to just about everyone. Good luck to anyone who has yet to present, and I will see you at Norwalk!

  5. Luke Says:

    I recently went to the CT Science fair on Tuesday and Thursday of last week. I had a great time there and I learned a whole lot. When I got selected for the final round I did not know what I should expect. I had no idea what the judges were going to ask me so I was extremely nervous. However, after my first judge I got a feeling of what questions were going to be asked by the judges. The judges mainly asked the same questions so I just repeated myself for every single judge. The students there had great projects, liek the Ear Guy and the Nanotechnology guy. It was a great experience and I hope I can do it next year.

  6. gabby nastri Says:

    I attended the Science Horizons Fair on March 11 at Ridgefield High. This fair was the first I’ve ever attended, and it was probably one of the most nerve-racking experiences ever. I’m not even kidding, it was worse then the state finals! I kept thinking about not being able to answer a judge’s question or forgetting something on my project out of pure nervousness. When I got there this girl immediately came up and introduced herself. She had won the fair last year and was pretty intimidating. As I walked around I saw some amazing projects and some not so amazing projects, but that’s what I really appreciated about the fair. It was an experience anyone who had a scientific interest could take part in. The junior section of the fair inspired me, it was pretty amazing to see the youth coming up with some pretty intellectual projects. The scariest part of the fair was when Derek put one of those “a judge was here where were you?” papers on my project. I thought my chances at the fair were over! I did make it to the finals, which was really exciting because I never thought I would. The second set of judging for finalists was a lot worse then the morning session. The judges seemed like they knew more information and had more time to grill you. In the end I received a special award from the Meteorological Foundation and got to see three of my classmates move on to the CT science fair. It was a pretty awesome experience and I was glad I went. To anyone who was afraid to go to a fair, it is a little scary while you’re there, but after the judging is over, you realize it wasn’t that bad and the prize for going is irreplaceable. I got to meet some new people, overcame my fear of public speaking and got to know Drew, Kendra, Derek, Kelly, Rebecca and Dayton a lot better. I hope to see you all at Norwalk and good luck to Drew at the ISEF fair!!

  7. Maricate Says:

    I attended the CT Science Fair at Quinnipiac for the finalist poster presentation and also the special awards ceremony. The largest challenge I faced was answering the judge’s questions. Many judges asked me questions that they already knew the answers to. Trying to come up with a satisfactory answer that matched the judge’s answer was very difficult. One judge made me very nervous and confused me by asking me complex questions with simple answers; after he walked away I realized I knew the answers to the questions he was asking, I just had become too flustered to articulate my thoughts. The rewards include sharing my project in depth with scientific professionals, recognition for my hard work on my project, and, of course, the awards. I won the Environmental Environmental Federation Award which makes me eligible to compete for the Junior Stockholm Water Award to represent the state of Connecticut in Atlanta for the Stockholm conference this June. I hope to work on and improve my lab report so it will be named the best environmental/water remediation project in CT. Winning this award and the chance to travel to Atlanta, Georgia, for the Stockholm conference, was the best part of the fair. The worst part of the fair was not knowing the answers to judge’s questions or feeling my answers were inadequate. I was surprised that I had no breaks between judgings, but that they kept coming one after the other to ask me about my project and its application to the real world. Advice I would give to future participants in science fairs is to be confident in your knowledge and know that you probably know more about your topic then most of the judges do. I am inspired to pursue the application of my research on the Batchelder Site.

  8. Drew Taylor Says:

    Well, I suppose since I have attended three science fairs this year I should add my two cents. First off, I’d like to thank all of the people who attended the fairs with me, cause without you holding me up and pushing me to keep going, I would have quit a long time ago. The one thing that I will take away more than the practice, advancement in scientific knowledge, and prizes, is the memories. I will never forget going to Mr. LaBanca’s house at 10:30 Sunday night, only to learn my poster was horrible. I later stayed up till 4:30 fixing it, only to wake up at 5:30 to drive to Uconn. But not to worry, because Sam, Laura, and our new friend Noah spent the entire time at Uconn taking naps. I suppose the all-nighter was worth is, since I won the poster section at JSHS. Next was the Science Horizons, which after the Snowball was a very very long day. But Derek, Gabby, and Kendra all kept me entertained, especially by taunting and yelling at my competition for touching Gabby’s project. But is suppose the long day was worth it in the end when I won the overall best poster there. Then came the Connecticut Science fair, where Sam set up her poster next to a person who cured cancer, obviously the reason why she didn’t make finals. I remember asking Laura at the awards ceremony what an 8th grader would do with 20,000 dollars, only to hear my name called for the award for the senior level. Now for the future, as many of you know I will be attending ISEF in May, and will be competing in the largest high school science fair in the world, consisting of students from over 46 states and over 45 countries. Well I can always thank God that I made it this far, and enjoy being in Indianapolis. Again, thanks for all who were there for the moral support.

  9. Sam Says:

    I began my fair experience at JSHS at Uconn on March 6th and 7th. The nightmare began the night before, staying up till 3 finishing my poster. I do not recommend pulling an all nighter the night before a fair. It is quite difficult to cut and glue at 3am. This resulted in numerous naps over the next two days. But during the judging sessions I felt very confident with the questions posed and a real connection with the numerous viewers. A high point was getting feedback from other teachers who just encouraged me, telling me I was on the right track! This kind of feedback kept me going those two days. At first, the judges intimidated me but after explaining my project I became more comfortable and realized I just had to do my best. It was extremely interesting to view others’ projects; this opened my eyes to the numerous fields of science one can explore. My next adventure was CT Science Fair. OH-I just set up next to a kid who cured cancer. I immediately become frustrated, I wanted to move. But I realized you shouldn’t be intimidated with others’ work. Thanks to Laura and Drew- I embraced my time next to the kid who cured cancer. It was a great surprise to be called back for Special Awards. It felt great to receive an award for my hard work especially the Board Of Director’s Award (I’m glad they liked my project!). All in all I learned so much from each Fair I attended. It was great to finish my poster and show my results. Next week I will attend Norwalk CC Fair. I look forward to another adventure and hopefully not needing ANY naps.

  10. Laura Koscomb Says:

    Last month I went to the first meeting of Connecticut Pathways to Innovation. This program is very unique because it is used to help connect students interested in doing a research project with a mentor. I was suprised because it was the first ever meeting and I thought that it would have been much more unorganized. One of the few bad parts of the trip was sitting for so long and listening to the scientists at Proton Energy talk. It might have been because I am not very interested in fuel cells but it also is possible that the presentations were quite dry and did not engage the audience. The best part of the day was touring the facilities because you got to apply what the presenters had been talking about for the past 2 hours. I was dissapointed that there was not an oppertunity for us to talk to the other students that are participating in the program. I am really looking forward to the next meeting this friday because it involves medicine and health which I find much more interesting. The overall experience was good and I learned a lot. I would reccomend this program to others because it is very interesting to get to go around to different places and see lots of different fields of science.

  11. Laura Konkos Says:

    I have attended Junior Science Humanities Symposium, CT Pathway of innovation, and CT Science Fair so far. Advice to students in the future is to make sure your poster is done before the night before attending JSHS. Although every person that was a poster presenter that I talked to get an average of one hour of sleep and finished their poster last minute as well, I’d advice you not to follow this same trend. You might result in frequent naps during JSHS, even though most likely no matter how much sleep you get the night before you will result in frequent naps. I learned allot at JSHS that later helped me become a better poster presenter and have more confidence at the Connecticut Science Fair. After working months on my project, one lady in a pink sweater decided to ask me if I had conducted any experiments? If you ask any of the other students that attended JSHS, this shocked me and annoyed me. Advice to future students attending science fairs is to not get frustrated with the judges, but arguing in order to support the data you have worked hard to get is welcome.

    Connecticut Science fair was a different story. There was a larger amount of poster present then at JSHS, and a vast amount of levels of sophistication within the projects. From Shampoo Show Down who somehow made finals, to the kid that cured cancer and did not make finals, the projects were all very interesting in their own way. After making finals I studied every part of my project the night before for a couple hours, to make sure that any question the judges could ask me would be easily answered. I advice future students to do this. This aloud each one of my judges to get a strong view of my data when they came to judge me. It was an amazing feeling to be able to present work that you have worked so hard on and for other people to be able to relate to your data and understand it. It was great for prestigious people to look at your work and compliment you on how this is the type of real data they like to see done by students and how people much older then you are doing the same thing.

    Ct Pathway of innovations seems to be an interesting opportunity. They want to prepare kids to get to the National Engineering and Science fair. They have set up many programs in order to get us involved with mentors and have a better understanding of vase science areas. It was interesting to learn about the future of hydrogen, as well as what they are working on now. Also, it was interesting to see how each one of the workers got to the place they were in life and a short summary of their life. It gave me a better understanding that everything will fall into place, but also that the science fields are very competitive. I advice future students who are interested in attending the national science fair to become apart of this group, or even if you are just interested in being within any science fair.

    I look forward to also attending the norwalk community science fair and more events with in the CT Pathway of innovations in the future.

  12. Ivan Says:

    I went to the Connecticut science fair, for the second time. I went last year so I was not nervous about what questions the judges in the final round would ask, because I knew that they would be asking about the same things(The civilian judges asking about every day life applications, and the military ones asking about military applicatins was standard). This year, however, I did not expect to get through to finals(but did anyway) because I did not have many pictures of my experiment and only had a few pieces of data, so my suggestion to anyone going to this fair next year is to make sure you have lots of and pictures to back it up. One judge in particular told me straight out that the abscence of pictures killed my presentation. Overall, like every year, its enjoyable and I would recommend it to anyone interested in science. Good luck.

  13. Derek Says:

    I attended the Science Horizons science fair at Ridgefield High School on Saturday, March 11. We had set up our posters the day before so when we arrived there was a lot of down time( exept for Dayton who of course did not finish setting his poster up on friday). It wasn’t until the judges started coming around that things got interesting. The first person to judge me was a funny british man who looked like his name should be Ned, but I am not sure. I did a good job presenting to him, but he was only interested in the graphs which I did not know as much as I had wanted to about. The second an third people were alright exept I think the tird person was a little to old( meaning 50 years to old) to be judging childrens science projects. I did noy get as much time as I had wanted to look at the other projects because immedietly after my third judge left the winners were being posted. I did, however, have time to order a pizza from the local pizzaria. It was delisious. Drew ended up winning the whole thing, and it ended up being a pretty okay time.

  14. Rebecca Reed Says:

    I have attended the Science Horizons Fair, the CT Science Fair, and the Norwalk Community College Fair.
    Science Horizons was the first fair I went to. I had a lot of fun and I learned a lot. Some challenges I encountered were keeping my presentation short and concise so as to keep the judges interest, and also answering some of the questions that the judges asked me. But as the day progressed I got better at my presentation and I was able to answer most of the judges’ questions. The best part was seeing how interested the judges were in my project and listening to their suggestions for how to continue my projects or other paths I should consider. I also really enjoyed taking with the representative from the army. He was a judge, but he was more informal and seemed really interested in my project and gave me lots of feed back and asked lots of questions. The worst part was when one judge kept asking me really hard questions that I had never even thought of before. One thing that surprised me was how much easier it was to talk one on one with the judges instead of talking to a whole audience like at the Symposium Night. Advice that I would give would be to sound confident when you present to a judge and to show enthusiasm and really sound like you know what you’re talking about. This experience has inspired me to continue doing science fairs and I hope to be back at Science Horizons next year.
    When I went to CT Science Fair, I did not make finals, so my only experience from this fair was setting up my poster. One thing that did surprise me was how they judged the projects only on the poster boards before actually seeing the people. This experience showed me that science fairs are very different and doing well in one doesn’t necessarily mean you will do well in another. I hope to try again at CT Science Fair next year and hopefully to make finals.
    The last fair I went to was the NCC Fair. I had a lot of fun at this fair. My experience at this fair was similar to the one I had at Science Horizons. I enjoyed talking to the judges and I also had fun meeting the other students presenting at the fair. I had learned from Science Horizons and did not have as much trouble answering questions. One thing that surprised me was that the judges sometimes came in twos and threes. I found this a bit disconcerting and I preferred talking to one judge at a time, but at the same time it was good because there were 30 judges and I was glad not to have to present 30 times. I also hope to be back at this fair again next year.
    I learned a lot from all the science fairs I went to and I look forward to doing all of them again next year.

  15. Harriet Morgan Says:

    This Wednesday I attended Norwalk Community Collage Science Fair. It was a very rewarding experience to share my scientific research, which I have been working on all year. If I were to give any advice it would be to connect with the judges as much as you can. You should try to have a conversation with them so they feel involved. If they feel like you are really enthusiastic about your research then they will also be more interested. I also really enjoyed how the judges really wanted to know what happened in our experiments. They would ask very intelligent question which demonstrated that they were paying attention. I also enjoyed looking at the other student’s posters; some of them were very interesting. I found it interesting to see what students our age were interested in studying. For me there was not a bad of the day.

  16. Lauren Says:

    In the beginning of March, I attended the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium as a delegate. It was an amazing experience, though I am glad that I opted not to do a poster presentation, and extremely happy that I had not decided to do an oral presentation, because I don‘t think that I knew enough at the time to do so. The whole trip was fascinating, and I found it very interesting. The level that the students’ projects were on was unbelievable. I have so much respect for everyone who presented because they had such a great understanding of what it was they were doing. I was surprised at the amount of knowledge between all of the students attending. I can’t really comment on the challenges or give advice because I did not present, but I would certainly say that the knowledge of the students who presented definitely surprised me. I would definitely recommend this event to anyone seriously interested in science; the student orals are definitely the best part. The worst part was probably the lab tours, though it’s hard to place anything as “worst” because it was all great. If you’re looking for inspiration, this is the place to find it!

  17. ivan Says:

    Just recently, I went to the Norwalk Community College fair. Fair-wise, it was not a very good experience, in my opinion. Although the judges were knowledgeable, I was placed in the wrong category and so was judged by microbiologists instead of engineers, so they had no idea what half my project was and how it worked. When I told them that my project was more on the engineering side then the biological side, they were confused and so was I, until I remembered that I had been placed in the Bio category for some reason. After being “released”within the first 20 minutes, however, the experience was great. The people there are very hospitable and it was a great chance to look at some great projects that other people had done. I recommend this fair, but suggest that you make sure you get put in the right category. I also suggest that you talk to the judges for as long as possible and give them as much information as possible, to make them feel that you understand what you are doing. Even if you don’t make it very far, it will be a great experience.

  18. Jonathan Bryant Says:

    A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to the JSHS once again. Although I cannot comment on the presenting aspect of the trip, as a delegate I found it to be a rewarding experience. Compared to last years oral presentations, this years presentations were far more superior; the student presenters knew their material inside-out. Honestly, half of the time I dont think many people knew what they were talking about, but nonetheless they presented their research with the utmost professionalism and clarity. Being exposed to such well-done presentations was quite inspiring; I felt as if these projects could have met college level standards. I’d recommend anyone seeking motivation or inspiration to attend this science fair even as just a delegate; the projects are truly amazing. Congratulations to everyone who presented, you all did outstanding jobs on your research projects.

  19. Alex FLEMing Says:

    The Norwalk Community College Science Fair was interesting. The judges were a little intimidating, but polite and nice people. The ones who judged me were only intimdating because of the fact that you had no idea what they were thinking. I’ve learned a lot about my poster and my project that day, mostly after realizing how embarrassed I became of some simple and easy mistakes that I made. I grew a greater understanding for what typically successful science projects consisted of, and found that my project lacked: A) logical means of organization. B) It was labeled under “Physics” when it should have been “Biology.” C) I didn’t have the clear enough understanding of my project to be able to clearly answer the more scientifically tough questions that the judges asked me. I highly recommend that all students going into their first science fair keep two things in mind: A) Think realistically to avoid disappointment in where you stand as a scientist with commpetetors – the chance of you winning something are probably not as great as you would have hoped (One would be surprised). B) Work hard throughout the whole year- that way you won’t have to worry so much about little details and to boost your own confidence. C) Get as much professional help as you can – ideas on paper may not present themselves as clearly as if they were explained in person. Mentors are extremely helpful. D) Be responsible and do what you say you will do. This project was fun, however, upon noticing my errors, I’ve realized how much better I could have done and am relieved to have learned so much – even if by making mistakes in the process.

  20. Dayton Horvath Says:

    Over the course of this past month, I have gone to three science fairs and placed at one of them. The first fair was Science Horizons at Ridgefield High. Last minute changes were made to my poster the morning of and I was ready to talk to judges, I was completely clueless as how to present. I didn’t have time to practice so I just tried to tell the story of my project and tell the judges what they wanted to hear. After 4 morning judges, I got the hang of presenting my project and explaining everything that I wanted to. It’s not hard being interviewed by judges. All one really needs to do is make some kind of conversation with them and try to be friendly and down to earth. Once finalists were announced and I found out I made it, a second round of judging happened and this time with 6 or 7 judges. It was hard to summarize my project for them into the short amount of time they had to talk with me, a lot of the time I didn’t even get a chance to explain what I was saying. One thing to remember when talking is to make sure the judges understand. Ask if they follow what your saying, especially when one has to talk fast to get as much information across as possible in a short amount of time. The best part of the judging was when the judges were sincerely interested and wanted to learn about your project, not just discuss things without purpose. Don’t put high expectations for yourself otherwise you won’t realize how important it is to even be there presenting your project. I made finals and suprisingly received second place in Senior Physical Sciences. I also got a few special awards, all of which was beyond my expectations.
    The other two fairs I attended were nowhere near as large or involving for me because I didn’t make finals at Connecticut Science Fair and only went through preliminary judging at the NCC Academic Festival Fair. I wasn’t disappointed because theres no way to really predict what the judges will be looking for, so be happy with your work and try to be enthusiastic. The judges can be your worst enemy or your best friend, make them the latter. All this commotion with fairs was one big experience for me and now I know how to go about preparing for next year, it makes me want to come back with a better project than I have now. Remember, its just a fair.

  21. Kelly L Says:

    On March 11th I attended The Science Horizons Fair at Ridgefield High School. It was kind of nerve-racking, since I’ve never been to a science fair before. It was still really interesting though, to look at the other kids projects. Alot of them were very unique and creative. I also got to meet alot of new people that had projects close by and learn more about the projects other people in our class did. Even though I didn’t win anything I would definitely do a science fair again if I had the chance. It’s a really great experience.

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