Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Here Come Da Judge!

It's that time again! The 58th Annual North Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair is taking place today through Friday at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The fair is coordinated and hosted by the College of Engineering at UAH. This will be my third year to serve as a judge in the behavorial and social sciences category. I really enjoy this task. I get to see some interesting science fair projects and talk to kids with great creativity and problem-solving skills. It is amazing to see some of the things the kids come up with, the amount of research and work they put into them, and the neat ways that the projects are displayed.

Here is a bit of official information concerning NARSEF.

58th North Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair
March 7-8, 2012, University Fitness Center
Awards Ceremony March 9, University Center Exhibit Hall

Students in grades 5 – 12 in public and private (including home) schools from Colbert, Cullman, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marshall and Morgan Counties in North Alabama are eligible to participate in the North Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fairs (NARSEF).

While the Fair is a three-day event (see attached agenda), judges are involved only on the second day – Thursday, March 8.
Judges will be assigned into teams of 3/5/7 judges per team. Each judging team will be responsible for judging a category and age group. For example, Botany 9-12 grades, Engineering 7-8 grades, etc. Some teams will be assigned to judge a “Special Award” which is donated by a company or organization (past Special Awards include Toyota, US Navy, Scientific American, to name only a few).

Judging is composed of two parts: interviews and review. During the interviews, each student stands by his or her project and is available to explain the project and answer questions. The judging team interviews each student within the category/age group the team is assigned. Every student must be interviewed by at least one judge.

After the interviews are complete, the Fair is closed to the public from 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm. During this time, judges can and are encouraged to return to the Fair and review the projects they are judging. The judging team then discusses the projects and come up with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, as well as honorable mentions (if applicable), by 4:30pm.

It should be an interesting day. Hmm...I wonder how many of the elementary kids will have experiments on how to build a better trebuchet this year...

In other news, spring seems to be getting well under way here in the Huntsville area. The Bradford pear trees are blooming and that means that my allergies are acting up. Time for Zyrtec or Allegra, I suppose. We've had a bit of stormy weather with tornadoes already. Of course, this has made national news because of the damage that occurred. Thanks to all of you who have inquired about our safety. Unfortunately, we might have another round by the end of the week. There's more warm weather followed by a cold front, so the weather service will be busy keeping an eye out for severe weather. I suppose we'll just keep the TV and weather radios on and be prepared.


  1. Make 'em squirm!

    (I think it's great how many kids work so hard and do so many innovative and creative things but mostly we hear about the slackers, the misfits, those who have no support, and the failure of our education system. I will go to a local High School Science night in April and help present material about plastics in the Oceans - it will be very inspiring to see and hear the kids with their Senior Projects.)

    Trebuchets - there is a big pumpkin-flinging event here in the Fall - groups/teams make some mighty elaborate and capable ones and can toss a pumpkin a loooooong ways!

  2. Sounds like a great event, I agree with Rabbits' Guy, it's so good to hear about these events where young people are able to show andcelebrste their achievements, too easy to criticise them!

  3. should be a good time!! it's nice to hear that these 'fairs' for the achievements of kids still happens!

    be safe over there!!

  4. That is always great to see what kids will come up with for these projects. Fun for you to be a judge!

    I have been so out of it with the weather, all we've had was really high winds so about half my shingles are gone...waiting for some calmer weather before they will repair it for me. So I'm hoping we're not in for lots of rain anytime soon. Nice to have sunshine again and feels like spring!
    Smile today. :)

  5. Good for You on being a judge, so keep up your energy. I'd be exhausted. Fun and good times for the kids.