Notes from the Science Fair Circuit
The universe is full of magical things, patiently
waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
— Eden Phillipotts
Just a reminder — the second annual SF Political
Trivia Contest is on Wednesday, March 2 at Dylan's, 2301 Folsom (@ 19th)
from 8 to 10 p.m.
The purpose of this free event is to encourage
absentee voter registration. Celebrity MCs are Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi
and Chris Daly, School Board Commissioners Sarah Lipson, Eric Mar, and
Mark Sanchez, and activists Calvin Welch, Lisa Feldstein, Michael
Goldstein, and Terry Baum.
Laughter, knowledge and a better
than-cash-value-prize are all part of the mix. Hope to see you there.
Some people look forward to the NASCAR races. Some
look forward to the Super Bowl. Some look forward to the World Series.
I look forward to San Francisco's Science Fair.
Each year, I am one of the first judges on the
premises to do the written evaluations. I get to see the research of our
future Booker T. Washingtons, Marie Curies, and Albert Einsteins.
Currently, they are doing research as 6th through 9th graders in the
private and public schools of San Francisco.
The next day is even more exciting. We get to
interview the first and second place winners to see if they really did the
research. I have learned about liquids, memory, airplanes, and sound. I've
learned about water testing, recycling, biomass, and fluid dynamics.
I've been a science fair judge in Denver, Memphis,
Atlanta, and San Francisco. I even wrote a book about organizing a science
fair along with water-related science fair ideas.
My favorite memory of a science fair is the young
woman I met who had created a fascinating exhibit on improving the
aerodynamics of airplanes. It was obvious that she had done the work
herself and her enthusiasm is still fresh in my memory 12 years later.
Another image comes from another judge. Each year,
the Louisville (Ky.) Science Fair has exhibits by K-6 students. One year,
my friend from the Louisville Water Company took a picture of two
students. One of them, a kindergartner, is intently talking about his
science experiment, which consists of three wooden pencils in a wooden
pencil holder. Now most people would not take the science skills of a
kindergartner very seriously. But the listener in the picture, a third
grader, was rapt, taking notes on the younger student's experiment.
At the end of the day, the results of the Louisville
Science Fair were announced. For the first time in its long history, the
winner was not a sixth grader. It was that third grader who was so
intently listening to the kindergartener. He obviously knew the first rule
of science — "Listen to the world around you with your ears and your