From start to finish, and at all levels of participation, the science fair experience is one not only of competition but also of camaraderie, creativity, cooperation, and education. This is the essence of the San Luis Valley Regional Science Fair.
Established in 1949, the San Luis Valley Regional Science Fair, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization, which holds a regional competition each year. More than 800 students from the San Luis Valley and Chaffee County, participate in Science Fair at their school. The purpose of the fair is to stimulate student interest and encourage them in science and engineering by recognition of their abilities and achievements.
In addition to receiving the rare opportunity to speak with working scientists, SLV Regional Science Fair students participate in three grade-level divisions for awards in a number of categories: Behavioral and Social Science, Biomedical Science, Botany, Chemistry, Consumer Science, Earth and Space Science , Engineering, Environmental Science, Mathematics and Computer Science, Physics and Zoology.
Participating in Science Fair is one of the few activities that expects students to integrate virtually all areas of their academic development. The use the library for literature reviews, history and research; the students execute experimentation and generally complete mathematical analysis; they write reports; they utilize artistic styles in the preparation of their presentation boards; and they are expected to orally present their projects to the judges. Awards are also given for technical writing, oratory skills, display, originality, and overall projects. Winning Junior and Senior division projects are awarded trips to the Colorado Science & Engineering Fair, which is held in Fort Collins, Colorado. In addition, the two senior division students with outstanding overall projects are awarded all-expense paid trip to the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair. In 2013 the Intel International Fair was held in Phoenix, Arizona, where Colorado students competed with their peers from nearly 60 countries, regions and territories to showcase their independent research projects.
Many educational experiences are made available to students who participate in the San Luis Valley Regional Science Fair. Recent programs have included Science From CU; the Alamogordo Space Center; Mobil Ed Productions; Physics is Fun; the Denver Museum of Nature and Science; Visible Productions and Mike Mullane (Ret.), NASA Astronaut. Last year’s program was “Marine Biology”, where students discovered the watery world of jellyfish, sea horses, sharks, and other ocean creatures. They learned about the characteristics of several groups of marine vertebrates and invertebrates by seeing and touching museum specimens. There was focus on adaptations, behaviors, and habitats of many marine animals as well as other ecological importance. Xcel Energy sponsored the educational programs for the students.
The judges’ interviews and the educational programs allow the students to interact with professional scientists and engineers and with each other. Many students have said that having the chance to meet and speak with their peers about their science projects is the most beneficial aspect of the SLV Regional Science Fair.
Scholarships from Adams State University and other organizations are also presented. Adams State University awards $3,000 in scholarships for outstanding science fair participants who have a desire to further their education at ASU. The San Luis Valley Research Center – Colorado State University, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture – offers a $900 summer internship to a San Luis Valley student, in grades eight through twelve, who shows excellence in the field of potato research, from the Botany category. A new family scholarship was established a couple of years ago that is awarded to a graduating senior student that will be attending Colorado State University and majoring in a field of science.
The San Luis Valley Regional Science Fair is devoted to increasing the academic involvement and excellence between all fourth through twelfth grade students in our region. All participants at the San Luis Valley Regional Science Fair receive a ribbon and a certificate of participation. Student winners from each category are presented monetary awards. There are also many local and national awards that are presented to deserving student participants. With the help of our local sponsors and contributors, the San Luis Valley Regional Science Fair is able to present $24,000 (either in monetary awards, scholarships, all-expense paid trips to the international fair or material awards) to the outstanding students of our region.