Rational Inquiry -Volume 8 Number 1
SDARI and the San Diego Science Fair
Involvement in this event is an important part of our activities
Barbara B. Hemmingsen
Chair, Science Fair Committee
Thousands of students complete Science Fair projects each year in both public and private schools; after a competition at their schools, the best projects go to the regional Science Fair. The purposes of the Fair are to provide motivation and recognition to students who apply their knowledge and critical thinking skills to carry out projects in mathematics, science and engineering. In addition, the fair provides opportunities for students and their teachers to become acquainted with other students, teachers, scientists and engineers. The exhibition of the projects in Balboa Park creates public awareness of the scientific potential of our young people. Finally, the fair allows parents and the public to examine the products of scientific investigation and the communication skills of students in grades 7-12. An important component of the recognition received by the students are the prizes, usually cash, awarded by various professional societies. For the fourth year SDARI has been one of these societies, awarding a total of $450 in prizes, subscriptions to Skeptical Inquirer, and complementary memberships in SDARI to five juniors and two seniors. Our team of judges (Lucia and Norman Hall, Richard Uhrich, Diane Blackwood, Richard Rosenblatt, Todd Rockhold, Barbara and Edvard Hemmingsen) found student projects that demonstrated critical thinking along the lines of interest to our organization: rational testing of pseudoscientific claims; reason and experimentation to discredit irrational thinking; and reason and experimentation to test the claims of authorities. The winners were invited to our April, 2003, meeting to be introduced to the membership and to show their projects. Our winners in the Junior Division were: Julie Mebane, Thurgood Marshall Middle School, "Are internal antenna boosters just another `Phone'y product?"; Samantha Patterson, The Rhoades School, "Can recall ability improve with practice?"; Allyson Wickersham, Santa Sophia Academy, "Does higher octane equal better gas mileage?" for second prize, $50; and Emily Koch, All Saints Episcopal, "Controversy in forensic entomology and crime scene investigation" and Alexandra Schraub, Hebrew Day School, "Memory: Reality or Fantasy", for first prize, $75. Emily Koch won a prize from SDARI for the second time! We had two second prize ($75) winners in the Senior Division: Conrad Salinas, Bonita Vista High, "Under-clocking for fun and profit" and Azaam Samad, Torrey Pines High, "Antibacterial activity of common herbs against Streptococcus mutans"