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Ideas where others can use the product or research for progress are always highly competitive

Stephen Bismarck,Director,Piedmont Region III Science Fair

Building Future with Science Projects and Research

Good science fair projects require invitation, curiosity, and creativity.  These are all qualities colleges and employers are looking for from recent graduates.  Going through the procedures and requirements for conducting research for a science fair project is also a skill students going into STEAM fields will use in college and their career.

Mentoring & Presenting

The best topics are those that have come from the students’ own experiences or questions.  People are constantly asking themselves questions like, how can that be done better or how can this problem/issue be fixed?  Exciting projects come together when students transfer these questions into action.  Including these experiences and the passion for the project, make the presentation and judging a memorable fun event. 

How to be Active Parents

I have observed that parent involvement in high school science fair projects is drastically different than at the middle and elementary level.  I believe that parents should push their child to become an independent thinker at the high school level.  This is an important stance a parent should make, but they should provide support by having their student discuss the project, research, and results throughout the process.  It is important that the discussion shifts from we (elementary and middle level projects) to I in order to support the student as an independent thinker.  These types of discussions also help to prepare students for judges interview questions.

Past Experience

I am currently an assistant professor of middle level and secondary level mathematics education at the University of South Carolina Upstate. I am New York native, but moved to SC for my undergraduate and master’s degree in mathematics (Coastal Carolina University). I have a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from the University of Georgia. After completing my course work at UGA, I taught high school mathematics in Athens, GA and then moved to Port Orange, FL where I taught mathematics in a middle school. Several years later, I moved to Keene, NH where I began preparing mathematics teacher candidates at Keene State College. In the summer of 2014, I moved back to the South Carolina to take a position preparing mathematics teachers at USC Upstate. The majority of my research involves identifying and testing methods designed to help students develop conceptual knowledge of abstract mathematical topics. As one of my responsibilities at USC Upstate, I serve as the director of the Piedmont Region III Science Fair.

Sophisticated Ideas

The science fair I direct is affiliated with ISEF, so I will comment on those criteria.  Original ideas that try to answer or solve meaningful problems have been well received that the Piedmont Region III Science Fair.  The ideas where others can use the product or research for progress are always highly competitive.

Many times high school projects are a team effort where students experience collaboration with a classmate to develop an idea, conduct research, and clearly present findings.  Learning how to effectively work as a team to generate a product is a critical and needed skill.  Students also get to dig into what it takes to be a scientist and researcher.

Unfortunately, I did not participate in the science fair while I was in school.  At the time, my school district did not have any science fair programs.

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