Most kids love science fairs. They get to use their brains and hands to create something out of thin air—often something that grows, whirrs, glows in the dark, flies, conducts heat or light, freezes, or explodes. The only thing that gets more fun than that is winning a prize for their creation.
High school science fairs have evolved, though. Kids these days whip up actual solutions to real-world problems, courageously tackling even the biggest—from global water usage to alternative fuels to eco-friendly and abundant food production. The Intel International Science & Engineering Fair, taking place this week in Los Angeles, California, is host to the best of the best high school scientists. Contestants have already won their local and regional science fairs, and have been sent to Los Angeles to win not only glory but also a share of the over $4 million in prize money and scholarships. Some of those winning projects are bound to be biophysics-related.
Training these young scientists by supporting them and critiquing their work is a crucial responsibility of established scientists. Most importantly, they need to be taken seriously. This means taking time out of your science to check out their science. When you volunteer as a science fair judge, you are perfectly positioned to influence a burgeoning scientist’s career. Point them toward opportunities to choose from. Show them how rewarding a career in biophysics can be. Help them see that making a difference in the world today is possible, and that the drive they already have to do so can turn into a rewarding, socially responsible career.
Thank you to BPS members who volunteered to judge the best biophysics projects this science fair season! Stay tuned for a list of Biophysics Award winners and their BPS judges.