For the second year in a row, the East Central Oklahoma Regional Science Fair and Oklahoma State Science and Engineering Fair will be funded, thanks to the efforts of East Central University President John R. Hargrave along with Oklahoma State Sen. Susan Paddack and State Rep. Todd Thomsen.
The $100,000 grant doubles last year’s fund, which not only covers these two particular fairs hosted by ECU, but other local and regional fairs across the state.
“STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is vitally important to the education process of our youth and science fairs play a major role in the development of students’ learning and understanding of the world around them,” said Hargrave.
To go from $50,000 to $100,000 was important, due to the continual rise in the cost of living. The original $50,000 grant was provided each year through the 1980s and 1990s, until 2009 when the recession led to the cutting of many discretionary programs, including science fairs. Through the help of Hargrave, Paddack and Thomsen, the funding was reinstated in 2013 at $50,000.
“We had situations where some schools were struggling. Some parents were paying for everything. To have a little extra - so it’s not coming out of the parents’ or even teachers’ pockets - is important,’ said Dr. Rahmona Thompson, professor of biology and director of both science and engineering fairs at ECU. “We had a situation where a teacher went home and built several boards for his students at his own expense. With additional funding, we can use some money to reimburse them for their supply expenditures. Another allotment of the funds will be used for gas money.”
This money will also be applied for teachers’ training workshops before the regional fair, according to Thompson. Plus each regional fair will receive $5,000 to hold the fair and send projects to the international fair.
Facts about the 2014 Oklahoma State Science and Engineering Fair
*13 students from the state science and engineering fair presented 12 projects at the 2014 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
*19 scholarships were awarded as a result of the state science and engineering fair from ECU, Cameron, Connors State College, Northwestern Oklahoma State, University of Central Oklahoma, Tulsa Community College, Rogers State University and Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
*31 category awards were presented
*66 special awards were presented
*242 students presented 224 projects
*Categories and number of participants included biochemistry, medicine and health science (33); physical sciences (40); earth and space sciences (12); behavioral and social sciences (30); engineering (23); mathematics and computer science (13); environmental sciences (30); zoology and botany (30) and microbiology (13).