Pictured from left are Danielle Zapata, Samantha Gonzales and
Truman Bell. Zapata and Gonzales' project, "The Fertilizer Effect on
Vegetables" advanced to compete in the Discovery Channel's
Young Scientist Challenge.

UTSA, ExxonMobil host science and engineering fair

By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist

(April 1, 2008)--UTSA will host educators and students from across Texas for the ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair, April 10-12 at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in San Antonio. The competitions started Oct. 21 for the event, and judges are needed for qualifying events to represent education, industry and the military.

It's the fourth consecutive year that UTSA will host, and the event draws crowds of more than 4,000 friends, parents and grandparents hoping to see their child take one of the top three prizes to advance them into larger competitions.

In 2001, when state funding for the fair ended, ExxonMobil stepped in to offer financial support and continues to so.

"It's a great investment because it gets all those young people interested in math and science," said Truman Bell , ExxonMobil senior program manager for education and diversity. "With baby boomers retiring soon, there is going to be a great need for engineers and scientists in this country to replace them."

The quality of the student projects at the middle school level has been top-notch with all five Texas representatives (hailing from the San Antonio area) competing in the Discovery Channel Young Scientists Challenge. The fair also sends six high school students to compete each year at the international level.

Stuart Birnbaum , UTSA associate professor of geological sciences, is instrumental in organizing the event and draws great satisfaction from it.

"If you walk through the exhibit halls and talk to the students, you'll see these kids are fired up about science and engineering," said Birnbaum. "Anything I can do to encourage it and further their interest is well worth it to me."

To participate as a judge, contact Stuart Birnbaum at (210) 458-5467.

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