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Released March 6, 2003

SOUTHERN MISS TO HOST REGIONAL, STATE SCIENCE FAIRS

HATTIESBURG - The Mississippi Science and Engineering Fair and The University of Southern Mississippi are looking for a few good judges.

About 1,200 students in grades 1-12 will bring their exhibits to the Region 1 Science and Engineering Fair at Southern Miss's Reed Green Coliseum March 21. Sponsored by the Mississippi Science Teachers Association and Southern Miss, the fair consists of 14 different categories spanning the scientific spectrum.

"Right now we're looking for capable judges for Region 1," said Lawrence J. Bellipani, associate professor of biological sciences at Southern Miss and director of Science Fairs of Mississippi. "We have about 150 judges committed right now, and about 125 of those will probably show. We always need extras."

Judges have the option of elementary or secondary (grades 7-12) competition. The top three winners from each category in the secondary division will advance to the State Science Fair competition March 31, also to be held at Reed Greed Coliseum. There, secondary winners from each of Mississippi's seven regions will compete in 14 categories: behavioral and social sciences; chemistry; engineering; gerontology; medicine and health; physics; biochemistry; computers; environmental sciences; mathematics; microbiology; zoology; botany; and Earth and space sciences.

In the regional fair, elementary students are limited to six categories: behavioral sciences; botany and microbiology; chemistry and biochemistry; math, computers and Earth and space; physics and engineering; and zoology, medicine and health. Both the region and the state competition will begin at 11:30 a.m., with awards ceremonies held in the late afternoon.

Judges will evaluate how well students followed scientific method and detail, Bellipani said, as well as the accuracy of their research and whether experimental procedures were used in the best possible way,.

"Judges look for well thought-out research," he said. "They look at how significant your project is in its field, as well as how thorough you were. Did you leave something out? Did you start with four experiments and finish with only three?"

Bellipani said judges applaud those students who can speak freely and confidently about their work. They are not interested in memorized speeches, he said. Instead, "they simply want to talk with you about your research to see if you have a good grasp of your project from start to finish."

"Besides asking the obvious questions," Bellipani said, "judges often ask questions to test your insight into your projects such as, ‘What didn't you do?' and ‘What would be your next step?'"

For information on how to become a judge for the Mississippi Science and Engineering Fairs, contact Dr. Bellipani at (601) 266-4740.

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July 16, 2003 9:35 AM

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