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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!

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.

From a Board Member: Volunteer for this Year’s SARSEF Fair and Witness Arizona’s Critical Thinkers in Action!

By Casey Carrillo, Board Secretary, SARSEF; Director of Strategic Partnerships, University of Arizona Center for Innovation

My name is Casey Carrillo and I serve on SARSEF’s Board of Directors. I have been involved as a board member for two years. My sister is a fourth-grade teacher, and the passion that she has for education is contagious. I wanted to get involved with an organization that truly supports educators and students in Southern Arizona.

Being involved with SARSEF has allowed me to share my passion to help support Arizona’s critical thinkers. Last year, I had the opportunity to serve as a judge for SARSEF’s science fair and I learned about renewable energy and sustainability projects that high schoolers from all over Southern Arizona completed. It was inspiring to learn about the different projects – they were truly out of this world. Being able to see how passionate students are about renewable energy and sustainability is inspiring for me because it correlates directly with my day job.

I am the Director of Strategic Partnerships with the University of Arizona Center for Innovation, and we work with science and tech startups. I specifically work with renewable energy companies, and to see the pipeline of students in this space was exciting. I encourage you to volunteer for this year’s science fair and witness Arizona’s critical thinkers in action! Sign up today.

2024 SARSEF Regional Fair High School Interviews – What do you need to know?

Projects

High School project requirements remain the same as when we began requiring digital project submissions in 2021. This allows the judges to review projects in advance and judge more thoroughly. Project registration and all uploads are due February 25, 2024 at 11:59pm.  

For information about High School project requirements, please see the high school project checklist:

Interviews

High School interviews are in-person for 202

Interviews are required and will take place at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Innovation Building on Thursday, March 7, from 9:00a-3:30p. The day will include interviews with judges as well as category networking sessions and keynote speakers 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. Lunch will be provided for all students. Please review all of the following information as you plan for this exciting day! 

Time and location 

Thursday, March 7, 2024, 9:00a-3:30p

UArizona Health Sciences Innovation Building (HSIB)

1670 E Drachman St

Tucson, AZ 85721

Parking and transportation

  • Parking is limited at UA. We recommend getting dropped off or carpooling if possible. Dropoffs can be at the HSIB roundabout on Drachman, east of Cherry.
  • If parking is necessary, the Highland Street garage is the nearest parking structure. The cost is $2/hr with a $16 daily maximum.  

Preparation — What to bring

Upon arrival, each student will be provided with a blank tri-fold project board and a color printout of their virtual project slides. During project set-up time, they will locate their board and arrange the printed project on their board using the supplies provided. Additionally, students may bring a laptop with simulations, physical models, prototypes, their lab journal, their project pdf, etc., to showcase and aid in the interview. Students may not print their own presentation posters or create their own project board ahead of time. They also may not bring additional title cards or any other materials to attach to the boards. This is to ensure that the judges are seeing the same project they have already reviewed prior to the interviews.

Note: Project boards are being created for ease of reference only. The digital slide deck will have already been reviewed and is the sole basis of any display score found on the judging criteria sheet. Students will not be marked down if their board is not assembled.  

If students choose to bring in a laptop, physical models, prototypes, etc., these materials must follow all Display and Safety Rules, or they will not be permitted.  

Schedule

8:00-9:00 Check-in, Health Sciences Innovation Building (HSIB)

8:00-9:30 Project set-up (all categories)

All students will check in and then follow the schedule of their appropriate track based on their category.

Track A

Categories:

  • Applied Technology  
  • Behavioral and Social Sciences
  • Chemistry  
  • Environmental Studies  
  • Physics and Astronomy  
  • Sustainability and Renewable Energy   

8:00-9:00 Check-in, Health Sciences Innovation Building (HSIB)

8:00-9:30 Project set-up (all categories)

10:00-12:00 Interviews

12:00-12:30 Track A Open House

12:30-1:30 Lunch/Career Fair

1:30-2:15 Keynote Speakers

2:15-3:00 Networking

3:00-3:30 Attend Track B Open House

Track B

Categories: 

  • Animal Science
  • Cellular and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
  • Data Science and Math
  • Medicine, Health, and Disease
  • Microbiology
  • Plant Science 

8:00-9:00 Check-in, Health Sciences Innovation Building (HSIB)

8:00-9:30 Project set-up (all categories)

9:30-10:15 Keynote Speakers

10:15-11:00 Networking

11:00-12:00 Lunch/College and Career Fair

12:00-12:30 Attend Track A Open House

1:00-3:00 Interviews

3:00-3:30 Track B Open House

Interviews — What to expect 

  • As you enter the project floor during project setup time, locate your project according to the Locator Number that accompanies your project on the virtual exhibit hall. Projects will be arranged by category and then in numerical order. 
  • You will find your board and printed project slides at your Locator Number spot. Using the materials provided, assemble the desired project slides on your board to aid in the interview. You will not be judged on this board. 
  • Arrange any additional physical items you brought, for example, models, prototypes, a laptop, etc. You may not bring a printed poster or a project board you assembled at home. All items you bring must follow Display and Safety Rules or will not be permitted. 
  • A Master Schedule of interviews will be posted. You will know when judges are scheduled to interview you and will be able to see any breaks you may have during the interview period. Additional judges and Sponsored Awards judges may sign up in-person for one of your empty slots, so if you have a break, be sure to check that no one has signed up before having a snack or using the restroom. You won’t want to miss an additional interview! 
  • Interviews are 8 minutes long and will begin every 10 minutes (allowing 2 minutes for judges to move to the next project). 
  • An announcement will be made at the beginning of each interview period, and a chime will sound at the seven-minute mark so that judges may ask any last questions and wrap up the interview. 
  • Parents, caregivers, and teachers will not be permitted on the project floor during the interview sessions. Only judges, students, and staff will be permitted on the project floor during interview sessions.  
  • Open House periods will be open to the public and other students.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, and dress in business casual or professional attire.  
  • Bring a water bottle and snacks.  
  • Lunch will be provided for students.

Parents and caregivers

  • Parking is limited at UA. We recommend getting dropped off or carpooling if possible. Dropoffs can be at the HSIB roundabout on Drachman, east of Cherry.
  • If parking is necessary, the Highland Street garage is the nearest parking structure. The cost is $2/hr with a $16 daily maximum.  
  • Parents and caregivers will not be permitted on the project floor during interviews or in networking sessions. Parents and caregivers may attend the Open House.

Teachers 

  • There will be a Teacher’s area, where educators can network and rest during the event. Light snacks will be provided for educators.  

Registration is open for SARSEF’s first-ever Fair Director conference!

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Science Fair.

For Fair Directors, educators, and administrators

Whether you are new to science and engineering fairs or a seasoned alum, attend workshops that will increase your ability to confidently and easily encourage Science Fair participation at your school and support the next generation of scientists, engineers, and leaders!

Workshop topics include:

  • Project basics
  • Demystifying SRC
  • Data visualization strategies
  • Judging tips
  • Integrating state standards with real-world investigations
  • How best to support student research
  • Addressing common teacher, student, and parent questions
  • How to run a Science Fair at your school
  • Coding basics, using 21st century tools in research
  • How to get the most out of the SARSEF Regional Fair experience

and more!

Conference Details

When? Saturday, September 16, 2023 9:00am-2:00pm

Where? Community Foundation for Southern Arizona 5049 E Broadway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85711

Cost? $25 per attendee All registration fees are being covered by a generous donation from the Broadcom Foundation!

The conference will consist of general sessions, networking, and breakout “elective” sessions. Attendees will receive the full list of electives and submit their choices as we get closer to the conference date. Lunch and light refreshments will be served! Space is limited – register now!

Press Release: Arizona Students Win More Than $100,000 at the 2023 SARSEF Regional Science and Engineering Fair!

(Tucson, AZ)

In March, SARSEF held their 68th Annual Regional Science and Engineering Fair and hosted a Community STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Expo. The fair provided students the opportunity to be recognized and rewarded for their work in science and engineering. 

Over 20 exhibitors joined the STEM Expo, igniting passion for science through hands-on experiences taught by real-world professionals such as: Center for Negative Carbon Emissions – ASU, Bisbee Science Lab, and the Arizona Science Center.

The SARSEF Fair highlighted the work of 5,949 students and 1,560 projects from over 140 schools, pre-kindergarten through high school, from all over Arizona. Over $100,000 in checks, scholarships, prizes, and trips were given out to students as well as teachers who went above and beyond to support their students’ work. 

“My participation in the SARSEF Fair helped me to realize that research effort has a true influence that goes beyond making scientific developments. Behind each project, students spent months planning and working diligently for the goal of improving the community by sharing their passion for science with others,” shared SARSEF Winner Andrea Hernandez from Rio Rico High School, “I did not understand how much I had evolved personally and professionally until I presented alongside more than a thousand other projects. I feel like a real scientist!”

Andrea Hernandez, Grade 12, Rio Rico High School

257 volunteer judges determined the grand awards, volunteering over 2,570 hours of their time. Judges reviewed projects and interviewed students to determine who will win a prize. 

Valeria Toscano Pasos, who attends Flowing Wells High School, examined the gut-to-brain signaling pathway associated with maintenance of energy homeostasis and nutrient-induced satiation. She was excited to have had the opportunity to present her research and is excited to continue and explore her scientific journey. 

 “SARSEF changed my perspective on science fairs. Seeing the plethora of projects and everyone’s dedication to their projects made it feel less competitive and more community oriented. I hope that my achievements in both SARSEF Fair and JSHS (Junior Science and Humanities Symposium) inspire Flowing Wells students to engage in science and formulate their own projects.”

Valeria Toscano Pasos, Grade 12, Flowing Wells High School

Over 400 Sponsored Awards were given to students. These awards are contributed by individuals or organizations within the community and nationally, supporting and encouraging students to become future leaders and believe in themselves. For example, Jasper Byerley, who attends Doolen Middle School, won the Coding with Commitment Sponsored Award given by Broadcom Foundation. The award included public recognition by the foundation, a $250 gift certificate, and a Raspberry Pi Foundation Official RP 400 Personal Computer Kit. 

Nine students will continue on to compete at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering fair (ISEF) in Dallas, Texas: Andrea Romero (Harvest Preparatory Academy), Ashley Valencia (Harvest Preparatory Academy), Estefany Regalado and Jorge Covarrubias, (Harvest Preparatory Academy), Hannah Feinberg (BASIS Tucson North), Jimena Uribe Lin (Harvest Preparatory Academy), Jimmy Kwon (BASIS Tucson North), Keona Kuo (University High School), and Serena Rezende Tsao (University High School).

Visit the Virtual Fair and review projects in the exhibit hall: https://virtualfair.sarsef.org/exhibit-hall/

View the 2022 Awards List: https://sarsef.org/2023-sarsef-fair-winners-list/

About SARSEF:

SARSEF was formed in 1955 in an effort to increase student interest in the field of science. The mission of SARSEF is to engage Arizona’s Pre-K-12 grade students in critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through inquiry-based learning and research.

SARSEF accomplishes this mission through a variety of programming including a high school mentoring program, the STAR Lab, SARSEF Fair Week, educational outreach programs with an emphasis on underrepresented populations in the sciences, teacher professional development, ACES Camp for Middle School girls, Racing the Sun, and Arizona STEM Adventure.

To learn more about SARSEF programs and how students, teachers, and families can get involved, visit sarsef.org

Media Contact:

Yvonne Pysher, Director of Marketing and Communications

SARSEF

(520) 525-5230

yvonne@sarsef.org

DOWNLOAD PDF OF PRESS RELEASE

2023 SARSEF Fair Winners List

Congratulations to all of our SARSEF Winners!

We saw so many of you at the Awards Ceremony and Expo, where we distributed awards. If you were unable to collect your award at Reid Park on March 11, we will be delivering all unclaimed awards to students’ schools March 17th-27th. We are so proud of all of the students who showed their work at the SARSEF Fair this year!

Winning Projects

(listed by school)

Teacher and School Awards

Education Advocate of Science and Engineering

  • Ann Peterson, Satori Charter School, Teacher
  • Anna Heyer, Flowing Wells Unified School District, Science Specialist
  • Cristina Hernandez, Sonoran Science Academy, Teacher
  • DaNel Hogan, Waters Center for Systems Thinking, Learning Officer
  • Jule Abeytia, Homer Davis Elementary, Fair Director
  • Karen Maninang, Harvest Preparatory Academy, Teacher
  • Kate Schladweiler, Homer Davis Elementary, Fair Director
  • Paula Sotelo, Innovation Academy, Teacher
  • Rachelle Ferris, Innovation Academy, Teacher
  • Savannah Fuqua, University of Arizona Fellow in Rural High School Research Program

SARSEF Champion Educator of Science and Engineering

  • Andrea Lopez, Lineweaver Elementary School
  • April Spencer, Homer Davis Elementary School
  • Feven Afewerki, Mary Belle McCorkle Academy of Excellence K-8
  • Gavin Lehr, Sahuarita High School
  • Nova Kline, Drexel Elementary
  • Patricia Garcia, Cibola High School

SARSEF-Endorsed Teacher Award

  • Alfred Santos, Harvest Preparatory Academy
  • Jessica Jankowski-Gallo, Emily Meschter Early Learning Center

SARSEF-Endorsed School Award

  • Winifred Harelson Elementary School
  • Willcox Middle School 
  • Sahuarita High School

Top Schools for the 2023 SARSEF Regional Fair

  • Helen Keeling Elementary School
  • St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School
  • BASIS Tucson North

Your Guide to Fair Week 2023

The SARSEF Regional Fair is upon us once again! Registration is now closed for this event, and there are 1,500 student projects waiting in the wings to premiere at the virtual exhibit hall on Saturday, March 4th! Consider this you go-to guide of what to expect for Fair Week 2023.

February 26- March 3– Display and Safety Checks

All projects will undergo Display and Safety checks to ensure compliance with Fair rules. Registrants 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.

March 4 – Virtual Exhibit Hall Goes Live

The virtual exhibit hall will go live Saturday, March 4th, 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.

Monday and Tuesday, March 6-7 – Elementary and Middle School (PreK-8) Judging and Interviews

Judging will take place online and over Zoom on Monday, March 6, from 1:00p-4:00p. Then, Elementary and Middle School students will have an opportunity to be interviewed by judges over Zoom on March 6 from 4:00pm-6:00pm or March 7 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 judging. They are for experience only for young researchers to talk about their science!

Wednesday, March 8 – High School (9-12) Judging and Interviews

High School judging and interviews will take place in-person at the University of Arizona Student Union Grand Ballroom from 9:00am-3:00pm. 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 10 – 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 11 – 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

  • Dozens of hands-on STEM activities from exhibitors from 11:00am-3:00pm
  • The SARSEF Innovators Hall, where attendees can explore student projects from the 2023 Fair
  • SARSEF Science Mart for all of your STEM swag needs
  • Innovators Hall where any student that has done research this year, teacher, or Fair judge can claim a gift
  • Scavenger Hunt for families to explore the exhibitors and claim a prize upon completion
  • Onstage live entertainment
  • Sweet and savory Food Trucks from 11:00am-3:00pm
  • Plenty of room for outdoor seating on the grass in front of the amphitheater (bring your own blankets, chairs, and umbrellas for shade)

Schedule

  • 11:00am-3:00p STEM exhibitor booths and Food Trucks open!
  • 10:00a Elementary (Grades PreK-5) Awards Ceremony
  • 1:00p-2:30p Live Performances
  • 3:00p 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 14 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 2023!

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

Press Release and Media Alert- You’re Invited!- Over 6,500 Students Will Compete at the SARSEF Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair and Be Awarded Over $100,00 in Scholarships, Prizes and Awards

(Tucson, Arizona) On Saturday, March 11, 2023, SARSEF will host its 68th Annual SARSEF Regional Science and Engineering Fair Award Ceremonies and Community STEM Expo. Over 6,500 students (PreK-12th grade) will compete at the SARSEF Regional Science and Engineering Fair and will be awarded over $100,000 in scholarships, prizes and awards. The top high school students will move on to international levels of competition.

The event will take place at Georges DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center in Reid Park from 10am-5:30pm.

In conjunction with the Awards Ceremonies, we will also host a Community STEM Expo filled with fun STEM activities, where kids will engage in hands-on science, have the opportunity to mingle with professional scientists and engineers, and celebrate the research conducted by thousands of Arizona students this school year, speech by keynote speaker and award distribution ceremony. 

“If you want to feel hopeful about the future, this is your event! With SARSEF, students don’t have to wait to become scientists or engineers,” Julie Euber, CEO of SARSEF, shared. “With curiosity as their guide, they can start asking questions they care about and use science and engineering to find solutions that are meaningful to them, and even, the world. Being witness to their enthusiasm, dedication, and innovation can be truly awe-inspiring.”

Event Date: Saturday, March 11, 2023

Event Time: 10am-5:30pm

Event Location: Georges DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center in Reid Park

What You Can Expect

  • Dozens of hands-on STEM activities from exhibitors from 11:00a-3:00p
  • The SARSEF Innovators Hall, where attendees can explore student projects from the 2023 Fair
  • SARSEF Science Mart for all of your STEM swag needs
  • Innovators Hall where any student that has done research this year, teacher, or Fair judge can claim a gift
  • Scavenger Hunt for families to explore the exhibitors and claim a prize upon completion
  • Onstage live entertainment including three awards ceremonies for the Fair
  • Sweet and savory Food Trucks from 11:00a-3:00p
  • Plenty of room for outdoor seating on the grass in front of the amphitheater (bring your own blankets and chairs) 

About SARSEF:

SARSEF was formed in 1955 in an effort to increase student interest in the field of science. The mission of SARSEF is to engage Arizona’s Pre-K-12 grade students in critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through inquiry-based learning and research.

SARSEF accomplishes this mission through a variety of programming including a high school mentoring program, the STAR Lab, SARSEF Fair Week, educational outreach programs with an emphasis on underrepresented populations in the sciences, teacher professional development, ACES Camp for Middle School girls, Racing the Sun, and Arizona STEM Adventure.

To learn more about SARSEF programs and how students, teachers, and families can get involved, visit sarsef.org

Media Contact:

Yvonne Pysher, Director of Marketing and Communications

SARSEF

(520) 525-5230

yvonne@sarsef.org

DOWNLOAD PDF OF PRESS RELEASE & MEDIA ALERT

From the SARSEF CEO: Why Should You Judge or Volunteer at the SARSEF Science and Engineering Fair? Here are just a few reasons out of thousands.

By Julie Euber, CEO, SARSEF 

Did you know? Last year, SARSEF Regional Science and Engineering Fair showcased the work of 6,558 students. What better reason to judge or volunteer than to impact the confidence level and career trajectory of thousands of students? 

At this year’s fair, you will have the flexibility to select the volunteer or judge opportunity that best fits your interests and scheduling needs. But before I share more on that, here are just a few other reasons you should sign up to judge or volunteer: 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10.8% increase in employment in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations from 2021 to 2031 compared to a 4.9% increase for non-STEM careers. And – the median annual wage for STEM careers is more than double that of non-STEM careers (BLS data). 

Every student should feel confident when considering their options in STEM fields. Not only does this open up a diversity of high paying, quality career possibilities for them, but it also supports the future of our growing STEM-based industries in the state. Unfortunately, less than 30% of students view themselves as a “science person,” and that number is even lower for groups underrepresented in STEM occupations. 

It’s been shown that educational programming can turn that statistic around and help students see themselves as the rock star scientists and engineers they truly are. SARSEF is no exception. In fact, 85% of last year’s SARSEF Fair participants said that completing their Science and Engineering Fair project encouraged them to think about a STEM major in college and/or a career in STEM fields. 

To run a fair as large as ours, we need hundreds of volunteers and judges to step up and volunteer their time and talents to the incredible youth of Southern Arizona. As one of those volunteers or judges, you could be the one who helps a student recognize their own potential.

Julie learns about 2022 ISEF finalist Yaritza Durazo’s research project

The power of a supportive adult that takes a student’s science and engineering project seriously should never be underestimated.

Think back to a time when a supportive adult took notice of you and your potential. When someone took a simple moment to let you know that you just might have a knack for something. Supportive relationships with others are important to our health and well-being no matter our age or background. 

At the SARSEF Fair, you get to actively listen to a student talk about a project that matters to them. You can encourage students while still giving constructive feedback that shows you are taking them and their work seriously. You can be proof that they do have connections to an exciting STEM field and that they can work in or care about science and engineering just like you do. A single judging interview, a single interaction with a volunteer could be the inspiration a student needs to reach for their goals. 

IT’S FUN

If you want to feel hopeful about future, this is your event! With SARSEF, students don’t have to wait to become scientists or engineers. With curiosity as their guide, they can start asking questions they care about and use science and engineering to find solutions that are meaningful to them, and even, the world. Being witness to their enthusiasm, dedication, and innovation can be truly awe-inspiring. 

I remember my first experience judging at a science fair. Some students eagerly sought my eye contact because they were so excited to tell me all about their work. Others were shy, but once they started talking, their enthusiasm shone through. Once I get through the phase of the interview where students are shaking off their nerves, I find that conversation gets easy and that it’s a privilege to get to learn from them. 

Julie co-chairing the Biomedical and Health Sciences Category at the 2017 ISEF in Los Angeles, California.

You can make a difference in a week, a day, or less. 

Depending on your schedule and goals, you can volunteer with us for a few weeks, a day or a few hours. There are so many ways to participate! Here’s the rundown:

Elementary School and Middle School Judging: Elementary School judging and interviews for the 2023 SARSEF will be held virtually over Zoom. The schedule is as follows: 

  • Attend a virtual training Tuesday, February 28 at 6pm or Wednesday, March 1 at 8:00am. 
  • Review your list of projects through our online project floor. The project floor opens at noon on Saturday, March 4. 
  • Determine winning projects with your caucus over Zoom on Monday, March 6 (Elementary: 1:00-3:00pm; Middle: 2:00-4:00pm). 
  • Plan on attending at least one interview session with students over Zoom. They will take place from 4:00-6:00pm on Monday, March 6 as well as 9:00-11:00am the following day. 

High School Judging: High School judging will take place in-person in the grand ballroom at the Student Union on the University of Arizona campus. The schedule is as follows: 

  • Attend a virtual training Wednesday, March 1 at 6:00pm or Thursday, March 2 at 8:00am. 
  • Review projects in your category ahead of time through our online project floor. The project floor opens at noon on Saturday, March 4. 
  • Interviews and caucusing to determine winners will take place on Wednesday, March 8. Timing depends on your category, so please refer to the link below to find out when you would judge. 
  • Judges at the high school level should be professionals in their fields (at least three to five years of experience is preferred) and/or be in the process of obtaining or hold advanced (master’s or doctoral) degrees. Middle school judges should hold a bachelor’s degree, and have some experience in their field, or teach in the selected area. Elementary school judges must have a high school education, with some experience with the age level selected, and/or interest in the field selected. 

Register to judge at the SARSEF Fair: https://sarsef.org/volunteers/judges/ 

General Event Volunteering: Beyond judging, we also have a great need for general event volunteers who can ensure all goes smoothly for our student participants and their teachers and caregivers. In the week before the Fair (February 27 through March 3) we’ll need volunteers assisting us virtually to confirm projects follow our display and safety guidelines. During the Fair, you can support in-person high school interviews on March 8 or our Community Expo and Awards Ceremony March 10 through 11. 

Register to volunteer at the SARSEF Fair: https://sarsef.org/volunteers/general-volunteers/ 

Don’t have the time to give? Plan to volunteer but want to do more? You can also consider giving a sponsored award or donating directly to our fair efforts. 

See you at the SARSEF Fair!