On January 31st, Portola Highly Gifted Magnet (HGM) hosted its annual science fair for its seventh and eighth graders. Nearly 200 students participated and presented the projects they had worked on for almost 5 months in front of judges with advanced degrees in sciences, including parents, college professors, scientists, etc. Although it was my first time participating in a science fair, I really hope that it won’t be my last, considering that I had learned and developed so much in the process of making my project.
During the science fair, each participant was judged by around 3 to 4 judges, whether by 4 at once or one at a time. Furthermore, to make this process organized, there was an announcer who would tell everyone when the “round” of judging would begin, how much time was left, when it was time for comments and questions, and when it was time for the judges to move on to their next student.
Additionally, as supervisors and science teachers walked around taking quick peeks at students getting judged, they also came by to fellow students who weren’t getting judged and encouraged them. I was able to feel the tremendous amount of love and support that was present in the room, being emitted by fellow classmates, supervisors, teachers, and even the judges. This helped students calm their nerves down before presenting their projects in front of the judges.
Even though having to present my project to incredibly intelligent judges was utterly terrifying, I would never trade that experience for anything. The feeling I was overcome with when I received compliments from my judges, about how interesting my project was and how well I conducted my experiment, is something that I will never forget. As I thought about how my project and I had been complimented by brilliant scientists and professors, I discovered that I never would have felt so confident in myself if it weren’t for the science fair.
Furthermore, Portola HGM student Michelle Dorn commented, “Science fairs are so beneficial and crucial to our [educational] lives because they allow us to find hidden talents and discover interests in fields we never imagined we would like.”
Science fairs also allow students to develop social skills and help build their confidence. Some may contact colleges to ask for permission to perform their experiments there and others may ask countless people, including family, friends, teachers, etc. to review their projects. This enables students to develop the skill of comfortably talking to others, even if they may not know them. Furthermore, by getting complimented by brilliant scientists and professors, some of whom have achieved great things, it helps students realize how great they are and how much potential they have.
Although I didn’t manage to advance to the County Science Fair, I still had so much fun and challenged myself throughout the project. I was able to force myself to dig deeper in fields I never thought I would be interested in and was able to learn from the many mistakes I made. Although I faced countless problems, each of which had me stressing and panicking, this project was one of the best experiences I have ever encountered, so I hope that this year’s science fair will not be my last.
Sabrina Mo, Grade 8
Portola Middle School