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SARSEF Fair award winners have been announced!

See the winner list

Meet our High School Interview Day Keynote Speakers

This year, SARSEF Regional Science and Engineering Fair will be hosting a college and career fair during high school interview day. There be exhibits from local companies and colleges, networking sessions with peers, and keynote speakers. We are excited to announce the following keynote speakers:

Track A Speakers

William Hendricks, Ph.D.

From his vantage point as a translational cancer scientist, Dr. Will Hendricks has observed the tremendous positive impact of the human cancer precision medicine revolution of the past 20 years. Motivated by his personal experiences with cancer in pets and the distress that comes with having very little information to help guide decisions on how best to help them, Will has been driven to bring precision medicine innovation to veterinary oncology. Dr. Hendricks is the Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Vidium Animal Health and an Assistant Professor of Integrated Cancer Genomics at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, Arizona. He completed doctoral and postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Cellular and Molecular Medicine under the mentorship of leaders who have been shifting human cancer treatment paradigms. In 2013, Dr. Hendricks established a laboratory at TGen focused on canine and human cancer precision medicine. He has worked with a broad collaborative network to perform seminal genome landscaping studies in dog cancers and drive the development of new treatments and diagnostics for dogs with cancer. He founded Vidium Animal Health in 2020 to accelerate the translation of genomic discoveries into the veterinary clinic.

Meagan Bethel

Meagan is a Wildlife Specialist at Sky Island Alliance and manages the wildlife camera data and teaches the public about wildlife and their identification through communications and graphic design. Meagan was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona and competed at SARSEF through her school days, which fostered her interest in wildlife conservation. Meagan has volunteered with Sky Island Alliance since 2011 and now works with us as a full-time employee. In 2019, she graduated with a B.S. from the University of Arizona’s School of Natural Resources with an emphasis on wildlife conservation and management.

Track B Speakers

Jeannette Maré, Ph.D.

Jeannette Maré, PhD, is the Director of the Science of Kindness Community Collective at the University of Arizona. Her path to becoming a community-engaged kindness scholar was a long and winding one. Jeannette’s world changed drastically after the sudden death of her son in 2002. In the incredible grief of losing Ben, learning and sharing about the lifesaving, world-changing power of kindness became her sole focus. With her heart broken open, she founded Ben’s Bells, a nonprofit that inspires and teaches the intentional practice of kindness. Now, as a research professor, Jeannette is working with university faculty, staff, and students, and with community members and organizations, to develop a theoretically based and empirically informed model that will guide a community-wide effort to create a culture of kindness learning and practice.

Dante Lauretta, Ph.D.

Dr. Dante S. Lauretta, a Regents Professor at the University of Arizona, is a pioneering scientist renowned for his groundbreaking contributions to planetary science and astrobiology. Leading the NASA OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, he successfully collected samples from the asteroid Bennu, offering profound insights into solar system formation. Dr. Lauretta’s research spans solar system origins, Earth’s habitability, life’s origins, and the connection between life and consciousness. His commitment to mentoring the next generation of scientists and establishing the Arizona Astrobiology Center reflects his dedication to scientific excellence. As a passionate science communicator, he engages with the public and collaborates globally, working with a diverse group of researchers to tackle science’s biggest questions.

Join SARSEF at the Tucson Festival of Books

It’s a busy week for SARSEF as we run the Regional Science and Engineering Fair showcasing the work of over 5,000 Arizona students! We will be seeing many of you at the Fair, including the SARSEF Awards and Expo on Saturday, March 9, 10:00 am-3:30 pm at Reid Park, but did you know you can also find us at the Tucson Festival of Books?

Science and reading have always gone hand and hand at SARSEF. We love reading, and we share that love with the students in our programs. Not only that, but we can tell that the student scientists and engineers who participate in the SARSEF Fair are curious about books too. Many SARSEF participants use books for research, and some even ask questions about books or reading for their project!

One project by a preschool class was about whether an A.I. program could successfully create a story that a preschool audience enjoyed. A project by a third grader compared playing video games to reading a book and found that reading a book lowers your blood pressure while playing video games raises it. A fifth grader wanted to read a book without an external light source, so they set out to create a book that would glow.

We look forward to sharing our love of science and books with you this coming weekend, March 9 – 10, at the Festival of Books. SARSEF will be hosting a Science Cafe on the Science Cafe on Sunday, March 10 at 12:15pm. Join us for conversations hosted by SARSEF’s CEO, Julie Euber with former and current International Science and Engineering Fair finalists. Past finalists will talk about their experiences growing up as scientists and engineers and offer their encouragement and advice to current finalists who will have found out that they were selected the day before at SARSEF’s Awards Ceremony and Expo!

SARSEF Fair Shirt Designs from Local Artists

Every year, SARSEF celebrates the SARSEF Regional Science and Engineering Fair by releasing a new t-shirt design. For the last three years, local artists have been commissioned to create a design that captures the spirit of the event from their perspective. Many SARSEF Fair projects center around exploring solutions to local issues or being curious about natural environments or dark skies across Arizona. We wanted our shirt designs to mirror this connection that many students make between science, engineering, and their own lives and community.

In 2022, Julie Bonner took Southern Arizona to space, reminding students to reach for the stars. Her design was the first in our local artist series. Last year, Isaac Caruso featured a robot searching the skies for science-themed constellations. Isaac’s shirt design will still be available in the SARSEF store this year if you missed out last year.

This year, Derrick “Deersinger” Gonzales has created the newest SARSEF shirt that showcases how science can foster community and a connection to nature. Don’t miss the SARSEF Awards and Expo on Saturday, March 9, 10:00 am-3:30 pm at Reid Park, where you can view and purchase this year’s shirt!

More about this Year’s Artist, Derrick “Deersinger” Gonzales in his own words:

Deersinger is the traditional name I was given, but you can also call me Derrick. I’m from the Tohono O’odham Nation. It’s located in Sells, Arizona. To me it’s the motherland, I’m part Pascua Yaqui and Pima Maricopa as well. As a child, I’ve always been fascinated with the world and every living thing within it. Seeing the beautiful landscapes when it’s green to when it’s brown, the wonderful smells of food and rain, hearing traditional songs to modern music, feeling the wind breeze the hot the cold, my family says pencils, crayons or markers seemed to always be in my hand when I was younger.

During seven years of messing around with colors, drawing figures, creating characters and pulling from different elements at the traditional ceremonies helped my foundation. Growing up in the urban culture as I went to high school sparked my attitude. Freethinking had an influence on my art style getting messy with spray paint, paint markers and social adventures. It helped me a lot by understanding who I am and what kind of impact I can make and the voice I have.

Attending an art university just boosted my passion for the important things in life which I always had around me like community, history, culture, and native ecological science. Gathering these main life markers as well as gaining knowledge helped my growth as these factors entered my path. It’s a blessing and brings me joy sharing with others expressing what I’m capable of showcasing skills I learned within art. Because that’s how it was a long time ago. Helping, encouraging, standing with one another comes from the heart.

Being older, having these experiences and the new things I will learn goes to show that nothing’s impossible, displaying myself through images, explaining what I know, what I found out and learned, teaching in a new way, showing examples of what the people did and the skills they had/have. Exercise the mind to push one another for the future of our little ones, on how to take care of mother earth, and show honor and pay respect to the ones that were here before us. Live in the present, learn, have fun, understand, use good communication skills and help one another. Look towards the future and figure out how to sustain what we have.

That is why I’m so excited to be able to express myself in this creative way to be that tool to showcase all the beautiful minds and talents we have living in this world with us. To the people, animals, family, food, plants, ceremonies, tools, traditional homes, games, weapons, songs. Every living thing on this earth. Helping in this good way to be who I’m becoming as a Native human being: an artist, rebel, student, brother, son, cousin, father, friend, classmate, teacher, an individual that helps others, using my skills to showcase my creative spirit. Wanting you to do the same – tap in. Thank you, Deersinger.

Arizona Junior Science and Humanities Symposium 2024 – Results

Congratulations to the Arizona Junior Science and Humanities Symposium 2024 winners!

1st Place: Finnegan McGill, Tanque Verde High School, Tucson, AZ

A-BiRD: Automated Bird Recognition Device — Revolutionizing Ornithological Research for Global Bird Conservation

2nd Place: Julianna Serna, Harvest Preparatory Academy, Yuma, AZ

Year 3 Study: Applications of Antimicrobial Bioplastics Engineered From Invasive Algae and Waste Corn Cobs

3rd Place: Sohini Mallick, University High School, Tucson, AZ

The Function of p53 in Intestinal Epithelial Wound Healing and Monolayer Development

4th Place: Brad Wu, Arizona College Prep High School, Chandler, AZ

A Hybrid Finger Exoskeleton Rehabilitation System (FERS) for Stroke Patients with Motor Impairment

5th Place: Caleb Liu, Hamilton High School, Chandler, AZ

Fairness in Autonomous Driving: Towards Understanding Confounding Factors in Object Detection Under Challenging Weather

1st and 2nd place winners will compete on equal footing at oral presenters at the 2024 National JSHS competition May 1-4, 2024, in Albuquerque, NM. 3rd-5th place winners will also attend the national event and share their research as poster presenters.

Poster Session Winners:

1st Place: Shubham Kale, Paradise Valley High School, Phoenix, AZ

2nd Place: Luna Ambriz, Harvest Preparatory Academy, Yuma, AZ

3rd Place: Sajani Patel and Maya Mengesha, Paradise Valley High School, Phoenix, AZ

Thank you to our AZ JSHS sponsors Yuma International Airport, Arizona Western College, Elevate Southwest!

Nominate an Education Advocate for an Award at the 2024 SARSEF Regional Science and Engineering Fair

The nomination period is now open for our 2024 Education Advocate Award! We know that so much goes into the education of our young scientists and engineers. SARSEF awards educators and schools that support STEM learning in their classrooms, however, we know that we only see a small portion of the work that goes on behind the scenes to create high quality critical-thinking and problem-solving opportunities for PreK-12 students in Arizona. We wanted to give the community a chance to nominate those unsung heroes – those educators, administrators, paraprofessionals, parents, and caregivers – that make it possible for our young learners to thrive and grow into the thinkers and solvers of tomorrow.

Last year in 2023, we premiered our Education Advocate Award, an award presented to members of your learning communities that YOU nominate. Share with us your stories of commitment and engagement that you see throughout your classrooms and schools. Winners will receive recognition and a cash award at the 2024 SARSEF Regional Fair Awards Ceremony on March 9th, 2024. Nomination deadline is Sunday, March 3rd.

Your Guide to Fair Week 2024

The SARSEF Regional Fair is upon us once again! Registration is now closed for this event, and there are over 1,400 student projects waiting in the wings to premiere at the virtual exhibit hall on Saturday, March 2nd! Consider this you go-to guide of what to expect for Fair Week 2024.

February 26- February 28 – Display and Safety Checks

All projects will undergo Display and Safety checks to ensure compliance with Fair rules. Registrants, students, and parents will be emailed information on how to review project submissions and submit any changes that are necessary. Registrants that have an account may submit changes via their account. Parents, caregivers, teachers, and those who registered as a guest will be given an opportunity to make edits through our public portal. An email notification will go out when the public portal opens for edits. Corrections for project info and files will be permitted until Wednesday, February 28th at 10:00pm.

March 2 – Virtual Exhibit Hall Goes Live

The virtual exhibit hall will go live Saturday, March 2nd, at 12:00p. You can begin browsing the over 1,500 student projects that advanced to the Regional Fair this year! Judges will begin reviewing projects in preparation for judging and interview days.

Tuesday and Wednesday, March 5-6 – Elementary and Middle School (PreK-8) Judging and Interviews

Judging will take place online and over Zoom on Tuesday, March 5, from 10:00a-2:30p. Then, Elementary and Middle School students will have an opportunity to be interviewed by judges over Zoom on March 5 from 4:00pm-6:00pm or March 6 from 9:00am-11:00am. Students must have an adult nearby in order to be interviewed. Interviews at this level are not required and do not factor into grand judging. They are for experience only for young researchers to talk about their science!

Thursday, March 7 – High School (9-12) Judging and Interviews

High School judging and interviews will take place in-person at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Innovation Building from 9:00am-3:30pm. Interviews are required at this level and students should plan to attend the entire day. The day will include interviews with judges as well as category networking sessions similar to those held at the International Science and Engineering Fair. Students will have the opportunity to connect with other students in their category as well as STEM professionals in a related discipline.

Friday, March 8 – Winners List Posted

Award winners lists will be posted on Friday, March 10 at 12:00pm on our Fair website, virtualfair.sarsef.org. These lists will just signify to teachers, students, and schools that an award has been won, but will not specify the name of the award. Students and teachers should plan to attend the Awards Ceremony that corresponds with their grade level to reveal what they’ve won!

Saturday, March 9 – Community STEM Expo and Awards Ceremonies

Regardless of whether a project won or not, everyone should plan on attending the combination Community STEM Expo and Awards Ceremonies at Reid Park from 10:00am-3:00pm on Saturday! All Southern Arizona families are invited as there should be something for everyone. Bring your own blankets and chairs for awards ceremony seating, and enjoy the exhibitors, entertainment, and food trucks!

What You Can Expect

  • Hands-on STEM activities from exhibitors from 11:00am-2:00pm
  • The SARSEF Innovators Hall, where attendees can explore student projects from the 2024 Fair
  • SARSEF Science Mart for all of your STEM swag needs
  • Onstage live entertainment
  • Sweet and savory Food Trucks from 11:00am-2:00pm
  • Plenty of room for outdoor seating on the grass in front of the amphitheater (bring your own blankets, chairs, and umbrellas for shade)

Schedule

  • 10:00a Elementary (Grades PreK-5) Awards Ceremony
  • 11:00am-2:00p STEM exhibitor booths and Food Trucks open!
  • 1:30p Middle and High School (Grades 6-12) Awards Ceremony

The Awards Ceremonies will not be live-streamed. Please plan to attend in-person! If you are unable to do so, unclaimed awards will be delivered to schools in the coming weeks. Full Award list with awards details will be posted on Tuesday, March 12 at 12:00pm on our Fair website, virtualfair.sarsef.org

Volunteers still needed!

It takes around 500 volunteers to make the SARSEF Regional Fair happen! We still have slots open for nearly every background, schedule, and ability. Please share these opportunities with those who can join us to make this exciting Tucson tradition a success in 2024!

Enjoy Fair Week and congratulations to all of our young scientists and engineers!

What’s the Deal with Sponsored Awards?

By Dani Wright, SARSEF Director of Events and Volunteers; SARSEF Fair Director

All About 2024’s Sponsored Awards

For many Southern Arizona students, the first check they ever receive is from the SARSEF Regional Science and Engineering Fair. This might be through the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Place Grand Awards, but there is an additional award designation that provides over 400 additional awards at the SARSEF Fair!

Sponsored Awards are given to students from over 100 individuals, businesses, clubs, and organizations, highlighting the important work these young scientists and engineers are performing. By contributing an award or prize to a student at the SARSEF Regional Science and Engineering Fair, they inspire students to pursue career paths in science, technology, engineering, and math fields that matter to them!

Award sponsors can select the awards they want to give to a student. Whether it be a cash award, merchandise, trophies, or a scholarship, the sponsor determines what they’re able to give and what criteria are important to determine a winner. Sponsors can ask SARSEF to choose the winners for their award — or they can do the judging themselves. Many organizations opt to have their own employees judge projects and/or interview students on judging day and make the selection on the organization’s behalf.

Sponsored Awards encourage students to become future leaders. Many students see themselves for the first time as scientists and engineers as they receive their awards. They start to believe in themselves when someone else shows they believe in them!

Who can give a sponsored award?

The short answer is…anyone! We’ve had a classroom of students give a sponsored award. We’ve had families give sponsored awards in honor of loved ones (including pets) who have passed. We’ve had organizations give to raise awareness about their field and its future workforce. There are so many reasons to be that spark of enthusiasm and confidence in a SARSEF Fair participant’s life.

DaNel Hogan, Chief Learning Officer at the Waters Center for Systems Thinking, is known for being an impactful advocate for students and educators in STEM education, and giving Sponsored Awards is one of the many ways she pursues that.

The Hogan Energy Hero sponsored awards started with support from an energy education leadership award I won back in 2015 from the Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) Initiative. I used some of the $8000 in funding that came with this award to start the Hogan Energy Hero sponsored award. After five years, the funding set aside to support that award was used up but I had to keep it going with my own funds, and it has been worth every penny,” DaNel shared.

DaNel isn’t the only award sponsor who has made the SARSEF Fair an annual tradition. In fact, some of our award sponsors have been giving awards at the Fair since it started in 1955! Consider if this is the year to start a tradition of your own.

DaNel continued to say “sponsored awards are a satisfying way to recognize the creativity and innovation of our community’s young scientists and engineers. Whether $50, $50,000, or anything in between, sponsored awards feed the STEM identities of the brilliant minds we need to develop so they can unleash the creative solutions and ideas locked inside their heads. I am happy to be a small part of what makes the SARSEF Science and Engineering Fair so great – its support and development of our community’s critical thinkers and problem solvers.

Are you ready to give sponsored awards at the SARSEF Fair? This year, we are accepting awards to give at the Fair until March 1, 2024!

A Day in the Life of A Public Ally at SARSEF: February Edition

By Katerina Guerrero

February is the month that many love, as the weather gets warmer and pinks and reds are spread throughout schools, offices and more to put a smile on your own face or someone close to you. This month I had a big smile, and it wasn’t because of the ‘you are amazing’ Valentine card I received in the office. It was because of Racing the Sun Career Days in Phoenix and Tucson.

Career Days are part of Racing the Sun, a program that challenges high school students to come together as a team to design, build, and race electric and solar-powered go-karts. To see this program in action, join us on April 27th for Race Day at Musselman Honda Track as a volunteer or spectator!

On Career Day, Racing the Sun participants visit companies and universities as part of a field trip designed to inspire them to understand and pursue STEM careers and education. They tour multiple facilities engaged in solar energy, engineering, transportation, and manufacturing. Because of the number of teams across the state, SARSEF hosts Career Days in both Phoenix and Tucson.

During Career Day in Phoenix, I had the amazing opportunity to go to ASU and visit the engineering buildings. I watched high school students get so excited to be on campus and see the many opportunities available to them. They met with ASU students and got to ask questions about their college-going experiences as well as the opportunities available to them in engineering. They went on a tour of the engineering campus and saw labs where they could do research as ASU undergraduates. After they toured the campus, students also had the chance to visit Rosendin and Legacy EV.

I joined one of the tours with Cesar Chavez High School students and their teacher, and I had the best time listening to what the students had to say. The tour was given by Valeria, a senior who came from Mexico City and moved to Arizona to study at ASU. She had the students so engaged and answered as many questions as she asked. Students saw the work ASU students were doing and connected it back to what they were doing in their classrooms. After each building, the teacher and students would huddle just to talk about what they were learning and how it could inform their project of building the go-kart. It was truly an inspiration to see these students so engaged and ready to dive right back into their projects after leaving the engineering campus.

Not only did we have Phoenix Career Day, but Tucson Career Day as well. Students had the opportunity to meet with UA College of Engineering, Musselman Honda, Texas Instruments, CATalyst, EMI, AGM, Howmet, and Creative Machines. Watching these students get involved in engineering happening in their own communities was amazing.

“Seeing our community come together to show our young engineers all they can become has been incredible. I have enjoyed watching the students get engaged with different fields and futures,” shared Anissa Alvarado, Racing the Sun Programs Manager.

This year’s Racing the Sun Career Days were amazing, and now I’m excited and ready for our Racing the Sun Race Day in April!

Living The Best Version Of Yourself – Part Two with Stacey Weiss

By Cynthia Blockburger, Lindsey Intern, SARSEF

Haven’t read part one yet? Find it here!

We wanted to know more about Professor Stacey Weiss and her mentorship with STAR Lab. Stacey shares that she is a faculty member at a small liberal arts college and does not have graduate students. All of her research is done in collaboration with undergraduate students and a wonderful lab technician who helps to keep things moving when she is deep into teaching during the academic year. She goes on to state that “STAR Lab students have been a great addition to my research team. I’ve been a STAR Lab mentor for three years now, and each year, students’ projects have built on those before them. In most cases, their projects help validate new methods being developed by my undergraduate students.”

I asked Stacey, in what ways did your participation in field research encourage and foster your curiosity? (i.e., cultural knowledge, background knowledge). She says, “Surrounding yourself in nature and focusing on observing the life around you…it is easy to stay curious! Why are animals doing this or that? How do their eggs survive in those nests with no parental care?” It was clear to me that Stacey is not only passionate about mentoring the “whole” student but also her love for animals in nature and the biomes that they survive and thrive in.

Stacey shares that her current research study is on the behavioral and microbial ecology of a lizard found in southeast Arizona, southwest New Mexico, and down into Mexico – the striped plateau lizard, Sceloporus virgatus. I was initially attracted to these lizards because they represent an “exception to the rule” re: sexually dimorphic ornamentation. In this species, the females are more ornamented than the males. I’ve studied the function and regulation of this ornament, with a focus on sexual selection theory.

Stacey goes on to share a small slice of her fantastic research journey.

About 10 years ago, an anecdotal observation and casual hallway conversation turned me down a path studying the microbial ecology of this lizard. The females lay eggs into soil burrows at the start of the summer monsoon season. They cover over the nest site and leave, providing no further parental care. The eggs stay in the nest for 6-8 weeks, exposed to all sorts of potential soil pathogens with no apparent protection. My colleague, Dr. Mark Martin, suggested that perhaps bacteria from the mother’s cloaca transfer to eggshell during egg-laying and provide antifungal protection. We have now rigorously tested this hypothesis and found support.

With STAR Lab students, I am trying to get a better understanding of the mechanism by which the bacteria ward off fungi. One possibility is that they produce chitinases, which are enzymes that break down chitin. Chitin is a primary component of insect exoskeleton as well as fungal cell walls. Thus, bacterially produced chitinases can help the lizard digest its meals as well as kill the fungi invading its eggs.

Stacey shares so much excitement with her research and mentoring students. One unexpected outcome/quality that she has learned about herself by being a mentor is guiding students through the ups and downs of authentic research experiences has not only honed my problem-solving and communication skills but has also deepened my commitment to supporting their growth, fostering a sense of perseverance that extends beyond the laboratory, and cultivating a positive and empowering learning environment for all students.

So, how does Stacey stay motivated to continue “reaching for the stars?” I’m driven by the research questions and find inspiration in continuous learning. There is never an end in sight to the fascinating questions one can ask about nature! I am driven by the relationships formed with students and the impact of a transformational research experience on their lives. They may not all go on to become research scientists – which is just fine! The skills and confidence that come from engaging in research are generally applicable and can help them in whatever career they opt for. Being part of their journey from uncertainty to confidence brings me immense satisfaction and pride.

My last question for Professor Stacey Weiss ended with a mentoring flare! I asked, what is your superpower mentorship strength? Her response…supporting students!

About SARSEF’s Lindsey Intern, Cynthia Blockburger

Cynthia Blockburger is a highly qualified science teacher and mentor and is currently entering the final phase of her Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Arizona. She is also the Vice President of the College of Education Deans Graduate Advisory Board. In 2022, she was awarded the English Language Arts Title One School’s highest teacher-performer award for the Arizona Academic Standard Assessment. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Mathematics from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo and a Master’s in Education from The University of Arizona. She is a passionate educator with over 19 years of experience working with diverse students in grades K-20, specializing in STEM and English Language Arts. Over the years, Cynthia has developed various robust and diverse science curricula by state and national standards. In doing so, she has extended and fostered positive mentor and mentee relationships with students. As a first-generation graduate student, she has worked in various graduate associate positions, such as with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Under the direction of the University of Arizona Dean Berry and Associate Dean Reyes, Cynthia has provided academic and administrative leadership to support programs in the College of Education, liaised between the college and all campus colleges/divisions, and served crucial roles in research. One of her many goals has been to continue diversifying available programs, such as the AACTE Holmes Scholar Program, to meet the needs of the extended community of learners. She has also worked with Dr. David Moore, Dr. Sara Chavarria, and Dr. Corey Knox to survey the UA campus landscape to identify where field-based or experiential programs could be more inclusive and provide a better student experience from historically marginalized backgrounds. Cynthia’s work supports research and commitment to Equal Opportunity, Diversity, and Inclusion, research findings, and possible solutions for raising awareness among mentors and organizers of field-based research, curricula, and academia. As a first-generation college graduate, she aims to empower students to love obtaining knowledge and develop the joy of striving for academic excellence with a solid foundation for learning.

From a Board Member: Explore the Wonders of SARSEF – Become a Judge or Volunteer!

By Maricela Rivera, Board Member, SARSEF; Distribution Engineer II, Trico Electric Cooperative

Hello, I’m Maricela Rivera, a recent addition to the SARSEF Board. Although my title may be new, my connection to SARSEF runs deep. Back in elementary school, I was an eager participant in the SARSEF fair, participating in numerous class and individual projects.

I remember my last individual SARSEF project was in 5th grade. I evaluated the permeability of a birthday balloon using various substances: air, water, helium, and vegetable oil.  Participating in the fair encouraged my passion for science.  I went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Arizona and work as an Engineer at Trico Electric Cooperative.

Fast forward to today, and I’m not merely reminiscing about those early days; I’m actively contributing to SARSEF. Last year, I had the pleasure of judging elementary and high school projects. Witnessing the creativity and enthusiasm of young minds brought back memories of my own journey. Those moments reignited my passion, inspiring me to do more. I found myself volunteering for a board position.

My journey has come full circle, and it’s a thrill to be part of an organization that played a role in shaping my love for science. Reflecting on my experiences, I encourage each one of you to explore the wonders of SARSEF.  Sign up to be a judge or volunteer at the fair. Discover the joy of science for yourself! Your active participation could be the spark that ignites a passion in the next generation of young scientists.