Biophysical Society Bulletin | June 2020
Science Fairs As part of its outreach efforts to help introduce the field of biophysics to younger students, the Biophysical Society’s Education Committee sponsors a Biophysics Award that is presented at multiple science fairs across the country. The award is presented to the high school student with the best biophysics-related project. The Society has sponsored awards at many regional and state fairs. BPS could not have provided these awards without our members who volunteer to help judge posters at the fairs. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them for mak- ing the time to review projects and hand out the Biophysics Award. Science fairs present a unique and invaluable opportunity for students to give science-related talks outside of the class- room, often it is their first time doing so. In addition to affect- ing nearly all public events and businesses worldwide, the novel coronavirus has also had an effect on science fairs and their ability to conduct their scheduled events. The pandemic has forced some of the science fairs to postpone their events until the next calendar year, due to the possible safety impli- cations for staff, judges, and students. There were, however, some fairs that were able to conduct their events virtually and allowed students to present their projects, and judges to provide their feedback for the students from the comfort of their homes. One of those fairs was the Tri-State Science Engineering Fair. The fair was hosted by the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, Indiana, and was scheduled for March 12. A team from the University of Southern Indi- ana spent hours setting up tables, labeling exhibit locations, printing nametags, and preparing judge rosters on March 11. The decision to cancel the event on March 12 was devastat- ing to the Science Fair team. The fair had over 150 students excited to present their projects and 30 judges equally eager to interview the students. After deliberating with her team, Allison Grabert , Director of
the Tri-State Science and Engineering Fair, made the decision to transition to a virtual fair. She quickly created a sign-up form for the students and assembled a team of judges to interview the students via Zoom. The students were encour- aged to send any materials (charts, graphs, videos, photos of the display board) to her electronically and these were shared with the judging panel. In total, 34 students with 26 projects participated. In addition to a biophysicist, the judging panel in- cluded educators, a past International Science Fair participant, an electrical engineer, and an environmental scientist. The judges spent more than eight hours over two days interview- ing students. Many of the participants live in rural Indiana and have weak internet connections, but all of the students were able to participate. The fair had to resort to audio over phones in a few cases, but the team persevered and the students rose to the challenge. The team then reviewed their notes and deliberated to choose the winners. The award ceremo- ny became a narrated PowerPoint presentation, and award certificates were mailed to each participant. If you are interested in being a science fair judge for the Bio- physics Award in the future, or would like additional informa- tion, please visit your myBPS profile and the “Get Involved” section of the website. You may also send an email to SciFairs@biophysics.org. — Paige Walling , SwISTEM Lending Services Supervisor An example of how students submitted their work virtually to the Tri-State Science and Engineering Fair.
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