- During the last 30 years, Dr. Larry Bellipanni, associate professor
of biological sciences at The University of Southern Mississippi,
has witnessed the evolution of the science fair. Gone are the days
when a "tornado-in-a-jar" or a plaster volcano could bring
a smile to the judge's face and a ribbon to its owner. These days,
students are more likely to stand in front of flow charts and computer
monitors, grilled by judges wanting to know every intricacy of their
three local high school students can expect next week when they
travel with Bellipanni and team of students from Mississippi to
the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Cleveland,
a weeklong competition featuring about 1,200 of the world's most
promising future scientists.
we're bringing as great a group of kids as we've ever brought,"
said Bellipanni, quite possibly the nation's leading expert on science
fairs. The author of the only existing dissertation on science fairs,
Bellipanni was recently used as a source on a story in the New York
Times detailing the changing face of the competitions.
these kids are very scientifically literate, and they're going to
be competing against some of the toughest competition they've ever
faced in their lives," he said. "It just keeps getting
better every year."
a sophomore at Presbyterian Christian School, was the overall winner
at the State Science and Engineering Fair held at Reed Green Coliseum
in March. Messer, whose father is a local cardiologist, will present
his study on the "Effect of Body Habitus on the Reliability
of Cardiac Nuclear Imaging."
using a computer to see how effective nuclear images are in seeing
heart problems," Bellipanni explained. This is Messer's second
year to attend the international competition, which runs from May
11-17 and features students from South America, Mexico, Canada,
Germany, Russia, England and Ireland.
a junior at Oak Grove, designed an electronic polling system using
a sophomore from Hattiesburg High School, will compete as an alternate.
Goertzen will defend her presentation on the "Effects of Wing
Aspect Ratio and Wing Shape on Glider Flight."
her own wings out of balsawood to find out their effects on a glider,"
categories ranging from math and computer science to medical health,
botany and gerontology, the competition offers thousands of dollars
in scholarships and cash prizes.
holds seven regional fairs, which send their winners to the state
science fair. Fourteen individual winners from the state fair, including
three teams - 23 students overall - will take a furnished bus to
Cleveland. There, contestants will set up their presentations for
the 1,200 or so judges who will interact with the students on a
who was recently appointed to a three-year council on the international
science fair, said that presentation is only one part of the competition.
"Scientific imagination, scientific input - all the things
you do in the scientific method," are all part of the test,
set up where all of the judges in that category can go by,"
Bellipanni said. "They may see anywhere from 150-200 judges,
so they've got to be able to go and talk. It's going to be the toughest
thing they've ever done."