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UTSA to host Texas science, engineering fair

By Amanda Beck
Communications Specialist, College of Sciences

(March 16, 2009)--For the fifth year, UTSA will host the ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair (EMTSEF) March 27-30 at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in downtown San Antonio. Judges for a range of areas and other volunteers are needed. More than 1,000 middle and high school students from across Texas will compete in 19 science project categories.

"These are the best and brightest students from across the state," said Stuart Birnbaum, EMTSEF director and UTSA associate professor of geological sciences. "They work really hard on these projects, sometimes for more than one year, and participating in this fair is a huge honor for them and their families. UTSA is happy to host them in San Antonio for this weekend."

To participate, students must have won at regional science fairs. At the fair, Friday and Saturday are devoted to registration and project set-up. Each project is examined by the Display and Safety team to ensure it meets international fair guidelines. Then, each project abstract is reviewed by the Science Review Committee to ensure the work was conducted safely.

Judging is Sunday, March 29. Judges meet participants and learn about the projects, which are judged on creativity, scientific thought, thoroughness, technical skills, display and teamwork (for team projects). Judges are volunteer experts in the science and engineering fields and are university professors and working researchers.

In addition to awards given at the fair, participants are eligible to receive awards from external organizations. The special awards judges choose these project winners. More than 5,000 participants, family members and teachers are expected to attend the awards ceremony.

Winners go on to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, this year in Reno, Nev. First- and second-place winners will be invited to the second annual Governor's Science and Technology Champions Academy (GSTCA), a residential summer camp conducted at UTSA.

The debut GSTCA in June 2008 was hosted at UTSA for nearly 20 students from across Texas. Students learned about fluids in Earth's crust, participated in field trips around San Antonio, and traveled to the ExxonMobil training facility in Houston. This year, organizers expect more participants and a multidisciplinary theme highlighting the departments in the UTSA College of Sciences.

For more information, contact Stuart Birnbaum at (210) 458-5449.

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Judging volunteers

Judges are needed in all categories; faculty and graduate students are eligible to judge. Faculty can judge high school projects, and graduate students can judge middle school projects.

>> For all judging and volunteer categories, sign up at the at the ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair Web site.

Science Review Committee

Advanced undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty members can help with the Science Review Committee (SRC). This group reads the student packets to determine if research was conducted safely and according to rules set by the fair; training will be provided. Pre-fair SRC meetings will be in Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering Building Room 1.110 on the UTSA 1604 Campus at these times:

  • Thursday, March 5, 6-9 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 7, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 1, 6-9 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 14, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 19, 6-9 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 21, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Display and Safety Committee

This committee examines student projects to determine that safety conditions are met. Training will be provided. Judging is conducted the days of student registration (Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28) at the convention center. Undergraduate students, graduate students, staff and faculty can help.

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