Jackson State University hosted the annual State Science and Engineering Fair last week as students in Grades 7-12 competed statewide for scholarships and an opportunity to represent Mississippi in the international contest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
JSU biology professor Dr. Jacqueline Stevens coordinated the event through the College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET). She said each of the seven Mississippi regions sent their top students to the event, which included 13 competitive categories.
Matthew DeLoach, president of the Board of Directors for the Mississippi Science and Engineering Fair, oversees state operations for the fair.
DeLoach said, “We have students from across the state bringing projects from behavioral studies all the way to zoology, engineering, robotics and computer science.”
He said the competition unveils the best and brightest minds that Mississippi has to offer.
“Our two students who place ‘Best of Fair’ will be our finalists for ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair). It will be an expense-paid trip, and they will compete with about 1,900 students from the U.S. and throughout the world.”
DeLoach expects representatives from 97 different countries and territories to assemble in Pittsburgh. “They will compete for vast amounts of scholarships there,” he said.
He said Mississippi students have done fairly well at ISEF. “In 2006, one of our students won one of the top awards and received about $60,000.”
Overall, DeLoach said, “Science fairs in Mississippi provide our students an opportunity to showcase their knowledge gained in the classroom and through their own research. These kids are very interested in what they’re doing. Many directors at the science fairs say they are seeing the future of science and engineering.”
DeLoach said he appreciates the strong support of institutions such as JSU.
Meanwhile, CSET continues to see strong interest in STEM fields, with faculty and staff working diligently to bring greater awareness about the various programs offered at JSU.