School science fair projects are like a window to the intellect of a child.
How does air pressure in a soccer ball affect how far it travels when kicked? Which brands of shoes have the longest-lasting soles? Do some types of wood burn faster than others?
These are but a few of the thought-provoking questions posed by elementary school finalists in the 2015-16 Canyons District science fair. They, along with their middle and high school peers — a total of about 120 Canyons students — now advance to the regional Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair where they’ll compete against hundreds more students from surrounding districts and private schools.
Students in grades 5 through 12 are eligible for half-a-million dollars in scholarships and cash prizes — and it’s a fiercely competitive field. Middle school projects are quite sophisticated and varied in theme, ranging from a study of the affects of elevation on air pollution to a survey of mathematic models for predicting panda populations. And by high school, poster titles such as,“FIhA: An Integral Membrane Protein Involved in Flagellar Protein Export,” are indecipherable to most lay audiences.
But rest assured, the science these teens are doing is as relevant as it is sophisticated, says Instructional Supports Specialist Leslie Allen. The project cited above, conducted by Hillcrest High student Nityam Rathi— who has already published some of his work in peer-reviewed journals — examines the mechanisms of transport for proteins in cells, which could yield important clues for combatting disease.
“Some of our students are contenders for competing at the international level and could end the season having won hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in scholarships,” Allen says.
What: Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair
When: March 15-17
Where: University of Utah’s Rice Eccles Stadium.
When You Go:
There will be a public open house on Wednesday, March 16 from 10 to 11 a.m. for the elementary division and on Thursday, March 17 from 9 to 10 a.m. for the junior and senior divisions. The floor is closed to the public during judging.