Jennifer Hellier,Associate Director of Programs,University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Science Projects to Gear up for the Future
Science fair experiments can be the initiating factor for a student’s interest in science as a career. Furthermore, by discussing one's experiment and results in a college application personal statement can set a person apart from other applicants. This shows that the student has a true interest in science, knows the scientific method, and will work outside of class. These characteristics and skills are important to colleges and/or universities and may be the deciding factor for admittance.
Parental Support to Nurture Science Dreams
The most important support a parent can provide is to ensure that paperwork is properly completed and in a timely fashion. Most of the paperwork needs to be completed, signed, and dated PRIOR to the beginning of experimentation. If a student’s research includes humans or animals, then an Institutional Review Board (at the student’s school) must review the procedures, human informed consent form, and other pertinent forms/documents PRIOR to experimentation. These forms are required to ensure that the student researcher, experimental animals, and/or human participants are safe and that all local, state, and federal laws are followed. Incomplete or missing forms could make the project fail to qualify for a regional, state, and international science and engineering fair.
A Brief Biography
Jennifer L. Hellier, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Family Medicine and Cell & Developmental Biology, the Director of Colorado Health Professions Development (Co-HPD) program, the Associate Director of Pre-health Programs in the Colorado Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program Office and the Director of the Denver Metro Regional Science and Engineering Fair. Dr. Hellier earned her doctoral degree in Anatomy and Neurobiology from Colorado State University, and completed her Baccalaureate of Science at the University of Southern California in Biomedical Engineering. Previous to her leadership and development of the Co-HPD pipeline programs, Dr. Hellier performed peer-reviewed scientific research in schizophrenia, olfaction, and epilepsy in a neuroscience lab on the University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus. Earlier in her career, Dr. Hellier was an instructor in the Neurology Department at Harvard Medical School, and a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Colorado Health Science Campus. Dr. Hellier is the lead editor and author of two ABC-CLIO’s encyclopedias, the first is entitled: The Brain, the Nervous System, and Their Diseases (December 2014); and the second is titled: The Five Senses and Beyond: The Encyclopedia of Perception (release date fall 2016).
Knowing What It Takes!
Generally science fair projects that have a focus on 1) developing new types of energy, 2) developing engineering products or computer programs to improve a person’s or community’s life, 3) designing products to improve health, or 4) research about a disease tend to have a better chance of advancing to a national or international fair.
Eye Not the Prize, Eye the Future
I believe the best thing that students get out of competing at a science fair is learning how to describe their research and results to another person (e.g., judge, other student scientists, member of the general community). This is an invaluable skill — public speaking — that many research scientists need to constantly perfect. Getting a head start on learning how to tell others about one's research during science fair competition will make it easier for the student in the future. Nonetheless, public speaking is a skill that can be important in many aspects of a person's life.
Why Science Fairs are Good
Yes, in fact I participated and competed at the regional science fair of which I am now the director. I won each year I competed and advanced to the state science fair. I truly believe it was this experience that led me to my research career.
Marion Zeiner,Director of Scientific Research,Episcopal School of Jacksonville
Amy Schauer,Program Coordinator,West Linn-Wilsonville School District