By Jason Chen

Every year, the Irvine Unified School District hosts a science fair for students across the county to demonstrate their scientific minds. The 32nd Annual IUSD Science Fair took place this year on February 26th, 2013, at Woodbridge High School.

The Science Fair is an annual event for students in sixth through twelfth grade. Sponsored by the Broadcom Foundation in collaboration with the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, this competition encourages participants to investigate different science topics and conduct experiments to test their hypotheses. It provides an opportunity for students to use the creative sides of their brain as well as utilize their knowledge of the scientific method. This year, approximately 380 science projects were displayed at Woodbridge High, coming from over 400 elementary, middle, and high school students. These students come from thirty schools in the Irvine Unified School District.

Participation in the Science Fair involves finding a question to investigate and research further. Students must come up with this investigative question as a basis for their experiment, which forms the backbone of their project. Examples of some topics covered by this year’s competitors include “The Effectiveness of Water Filtration Systems,” “Weight Held by an Electromagnet”, and “Different Shapes & Sinking”. Every project included various details about the scientific process taken as the experiment was conducted. Displayed on each board were the materials used, procedures taken, background research, observations and data, and the purpose of the experiment. In addition, many of the projects included visual and tangible models for judges and the public to see. With so many different areas of science to cover, each participant produced a unique demonstration of their research and experience through their projects.

Each student was also expected to go through a personal interview with a judge. The judge discussed the processes of the participant’s experiment, as well as the science behind it. Not only does this test the student’s knowledge of their researched topic, but it also demonstrates the student’s skill in scientific problem solving. Scoring is based on a 100-point system, using the knowledge of the subject area, evidence of problem solving, accuracy, and neatness of the project as criteria. At the awards ceremony, awards are given to the participants who have met those criteria most effectively.

For winners at the district level, the competition doesn’t stop there – select students can take the extra step and register to participate in the Orange County Science and Engineering Fair. Even though not every participant was a winner, every student in the Science Fair is proud to have taken part in the competition. Paula Golden, executive director of the Broadcom Foundation, hopes that when students look back at the Science Fair they “will remember this day as one that put [them] on [their] way to an exciting and fulfilling career.”