Color me Impressed

March 20th, 2006

This weekend I attended the Sacramento Regional Science Fair. This was my second year at the fair. Last year I was a judge and this year I went as a member of the press. I have to say that I was once again so completely impressed by the young scientists showing off their acheivments that it was all I could talk about for the past two days.

I showed up Saturday morning at Cal Expo, microphone and recorder in hand and spent the better part of the day intreviewing the students with presentations that struck me as interesting and insightful. I wish that I had had more time and battery life. My recorder gave out before I did unfortunately.

In the senior division, the students were consistently well-spoken , and had very well organized posters. The projects ranged from immunology to medicine to computer science. Above all though I was impressed by the knowledge that the students had for their subject matter. They hadn’t simply been told what to do, and memorized what some adult had told them. They had learned and integrated knowledge about their topic, and very often come up with original ideas as a result.

the ability to think for oneself is essential for success. And, in a time where we are looking at statistics that tell us how far behind the rest of the world we are falling in science and math, it is reassuring to have spoken with the future of our country’s scientific workforce. These kids are really smart, hard-working, and fully capable of maintaining the US’s position as a technological leader.

The students came from very different schools, cultures, and economic backgrounds, but the one trait that they all had in common was support. They had supportive teachers and parents who pushed them to do more than what is simply required to graduate. They had people standing behind them willing to help them find mentors in the research community, to drive them to internships, to help them learn how to use computer programs for data analysis, talk to them about their research projects and ideas, to help them lbelieve in themselves.

I have a couple of hours of audio recording to go through before finishing my final story on the fair. I look forward to listening to my interviews again, and maybe even learning a thing or two from the experiences that were shared with me.

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