Science fair slated for home-school kids

Posted: Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Interior Distance Education of Alaska home school education program (IDEA) will host its fourth annual science fair May 16. Debbie Mackie, IDEA field representative, said the fair is for any IDEA student in the Seward, Kenai, Soldotna and Homer region (IDEA Region K).

"Having the science fair is important because it gives kids the opportunity to show what they know and compete with kids their age," Mackie said.

Students may enter one project which covers research done during this school year. Competitors must have been home-schooled for the duration of the projects. The science fair is students in grades kindergarten through 12. Steve Hackett, coordinator, is looking to get more older kids to stay up with doing science experiments and register for the upcoming fair.

"We get a lot of younger-age kids who get involved. We're shooting to get more high school-age kids this year. I think that once they get the science bug, it stays with them. We've designed it to be compatible with other science fairs" Hackett said.

Final registrations are due Jan. 10 at the IDEA Kenai field office. Packets containing rules and suggestions are available in the IDEA office at 43335 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite 31, or can be found on the Internet at

General guidelines from the packet say the exhibitor should include detailed explanation of how the scientific method had been applied.

Students must give an oral presentation to the judges with a self-supporting visual display and a logbook or scientific notebook. The science fair packet lists many more rules and suggestions.

The aim of the fair is to promote science education, understanding, creativity and exploration. Hackett said children of all ages can benefit in many ways from putting together a science fair project.

The packet explanation said, "The process of designing, implementing, and presenting a science experiment results in a much deeper understanding of the specific science topic and of the scientific process in general. Students also learn broader skills such as time management, report writing, graphic / artistic display, and oral presentation, which have applications in many areas of life."

Participating in a home-school science fair gives sixth- 12-grade students additional opportunities to practice presenting their science projects before entering a more competitive, statewide science fair. Any improvements recommended by the judges may then be made prior to a state fair.

Hackett said due to recent reorganization, the IDEA science fair will take place in the IDEA office in the Red Diamond Center.

For a complete packet, contact coordinator Steve Hackett at IDEA at 260-7555 or by email at

Students also can be involved in other science opportunities in order to compete for scholarships.

Professor Gary Laursen of the University of Alaska fairbanks department of biology and wildlife coordinates the Alaska Statewide High School Symposium.

"This competition offers tuition scholarships to five students who go on to compete nationally for $2,000, $6,000, and $16,000 to UAF," Laursen said.

There also is the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Anchorage on March 11 and the UAF Consortium of Oceanic Research and Education (CORE) in Seward from Feb. 18 to 20. Phyllis Shoemaker, coordinator, said the event was set up like a science quiz bowl.

"There are teams registered from Ninilchik, Skyview, Soldotna and Homer. We have 18 teams registered from around the entire state and those winners will be eligible for UAS and UAF tuition waivers. They will also compete at the national competition in Beloxie, Miss.," Shoemaker said.

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