Each year, hundreds of students from across the Mississippi Gulf Coast gear up for their schools’ annual science fairs in hopes of earning the opportunity to showcase their project at the Region VI Mississippi Science and Engineering Fair. The regional fair involves months of planning and leading this charge is University of Southern Mississippi Interim Chief Information Officer David Sliman.
Involved with the regional fair since 1995, Sliman spends nearly eight months organizing the event for students in grades 1 through 12. This year’s regional fair will be held Feb. 29 at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center in Biloxi. Once the regional fair is complete, Sliman continues working with the Mississippi State Science and Engineering Fair the following month, also held at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center.
Yet his work does not stop at the state level. In May, Sliman will travel to Pittsburgh, Pa. to take part in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF). According to the Intel ISEF, the event serves as the world's largest international pre-college science competition, providing an annual forum for more than 1,500 high school students from 65 countries, regions, and territories showcasing their independent research as they compete for over $4 million.
“Science fairs give students a chance to explore topics of personal interest,” said Sliman. “An important part of their projects is actually doing the research and not only learning science. All students will have to conduct research, think and formulate a hypothesis, then write a report which may or may not include mathematics.”
Sliman, who has been with the university since 1997, organizes the fair with the help of dedicated volunteers who see the value of awarding students for getting involved in science. The event requires the help of many volunteers, which Sliman recruits throughout the planning process. “We use all types of volunteers. We have people helping check the students in and out, monitoring who walks the aisles and judges of all ages and backgrounds.”
By the end of the day, Sliman and his team of volunteers are impressed to see the number of new and different science topics presented by students. “We get plenty of repeat topics, but there are always a few areas of research that we have not seen before. We hear every year that the students are so smart, clever or passionate.”
For more information about the Region VI Mississippi Science and Engineering Fair, call 228.214.3404 or visit http://sciencefair.usm.edu/.