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Science and Engineering Fair Bringing Elite Teens to ODU

Tidewater Science Fair logo

Students in grades 6-12 from throughout southeastern Virginia will compete Saturday, March 15, in the Tidewater Science and Engineering Fair at Old Dominion University's Webb University Center. This 63rd annual fair is a production of Tidewater Science Congress, and ODU is a sponsor as well as the host.

Members of the ODU faculty and staff will have roles as judges, coordinators and college admissions advisers during the all-day event. Chris Osgood, ODU associate professor of biological sciences, is vice president and a member of the governing board of the Tidewater Science Congress. William McConnell, a doctoral student in STEM education at ODU, is the fair director.

The event will formally begin with an opening ceremony that includes greetings from Mary Patterson, president of the Tidewater Science Congress, and Brian Payne, ODU's Vice Provost for Academic Programs.

ODU President John R. Broderick said he is happy to welcome participants to the university campus once again. "Here at Old Dominion, our faculty and students, along with the facilities we dedicate to research, teaching and academic scholarship, are truly impressive," Broderick said. "Our students have opportunities to participate in space launches at Wallops Island, join top nuclear physics researchers at the Jefferson Lab, work on state-of-the-art equipment in materials and chemistry, take part in botanical experiments in a new conservatory, and participate in the latest modeling and simulation engineering programs in serious gaming, transportation and medical modeling."

All portions of the fair will be in Webb Center. Registration will be from 7-7:30 a.m. in the front lobby. The opening ceremony for exhibitors, parents and teachers will be at 8:30 a.m. in the North Cafeteria.

Judging of the nearly 300 projects expected to be entered in the competition will begin about 8:45 a.m. and the presentation of awards will be from 2-4 p.m. in the North Cafeteria. The public will be allowed to view the projects and displays from 12:30-1:30 p.m. and to attend the awards ceremony.

Through most of the day, ODU personnel, led by Terri Mathews, associate dean of the College of Sciences, Linda Vahala, associate dean of the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, and Jeremy Dickerson, director of undergraduate admissions, will offer special programs for the teachers and families of students whose projects will be competing in the fair. In addition, there will be a special presentation at the Pretlow Planetarium.

Participation in the fair is open to students in public and private schools, as well as those who are home-schooled, from Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Gloucester, Newport News, Hampton, York County, Poquoson, Williamsburg, James City County, Southampton County, Franklin and Accomack County.

Categories for the science fair include animal sciences, behavioral and social sciences, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, earth and planetary science, electrical and mechanical engineering, engineering materials and bioengineering, energy and transportation, environmental sciences, mathematics, medicine and health sciences, microbiology, physics and astronomy and plant sciences.

The fair follows rules of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) and accepts exhibits from the following categories: animal sciences, behavioral and social sciences, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, earth and planetary science, electrical and mechanical engineering, materials engineering and bioengineering, energy and transportation, environmental sciences, mathematics, medicine and health sciences, microbiology, physics and astronomy, and plant sciences.

First place winners in the high school division of the regional fair will qualify for the Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair March 28-29 at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington. The Tidewater fair's two top projects will also compete in the Intel ISEF in Los Angeles in May.

The fair's website is at www.cs.odu/~scifair/RegionalFair/index.html.