New and Improved Science Fair

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The science fair has been a grueling task for many students in earlier years. Although, the school district has made some major changes over the past two years.

The science fair is no longer the science fair. It is now the “Chandler Innovation Fair,” or  CIF for short. Instead of coming up with and conducting an experiment based on a small topic list, students are now able to choose from a wide variety of topics that interests them.

One of the main reasons why the district now uses the CIF is because they want more students to participate in a science-like project.

“We wanted to expand access to everyone,” Karen Hutchinson, an honors chemistry and honors science research teacher, said. “We wanted little kids and we wanted kids that weren’t necessarily science focused.” 

The Chandler Innovation Fair now opens new opportunities and ideas to many students that weren’t interested before. The old science fair was mainly for STEM students as a part of the requirements.

“It’s always been about getting more kids into STEM related fields because the country has a significant need for professionals in that field.” Hutchinson said.

The old science fair had only attracted the yearly winners and competitors, now the hope is to attract more people to a science related field and get more competition. 

Jerry Bell, the Science Department Chair, explained, “I think it’s always an ongoing process of trying to get students involved. High school students are very busy, so adding a volunteering project on top of everything else is hard.”

With the CIF, students can choose from a wider range of topics and experiments. The old science fair only allowed students to choose from a couple topics and create a short experiment. The Chandler Innovation Fair, however, gives students a chance to be more creative.

“They have added the pillars of robotics, engineering, invention convention, problem based learning, [and] they also have a computer software competition,” Stephanie Hawkins, an honors biology teacher, stated. “They broadened the categories that you can compete in to show your specific interest in science.”

In the original science fair, students could only choose from a small list of suggested topics for their experiment. Now, with CIF, students can choose whatever topic they feel best suits them.

Perry competes the most in the HISEF competition, or Hamilton Invitational Science and Engineering Fair, because of the option to move up in the competition.

“Where we still compete the most is HISEF and that is because there is a certain student population who wants the option to move up to AZSEF. They want the recognition and the scholarships. That’s the only pilar that makes it to AZSEF.” Hawkins explained.

The science fair has never been changed until recent years and will not change again for a while. The Chandler Innovation Fair is a requirement of STEM and a volunteer project for any students interested in competing.

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