Many Ontario schools are dropping out of the science fair scene, but Sarnia-Lambton remains a hotbed for young researchers growing ideas thanks to strong community support.
The 43rd edition of the Lambton County Science Fair is set for April 8 -9. Held at Lambton College, it is open to the public and visitors are welcome.
Local students are really bucking the trend, said media co-ordinator Peter Smith.
Neighbouring Chatham-Kent, for example, has been cancelled this year’s fair because of declining funding and volunteers.
"Unfortunately, budget restrictions and curriculum requirements have made the school science fair a thing of the past. But fortunately, there are still a lot of dedicated and inspiring science and math teachers who encourage their students to take part in the Lambton County Science Fair."
Brad McCabe, of Toronto-based Youth Science, said science fairs are struggling because of “significant issues” in the school system.
For one thing, teacher work-to-rule campaigns in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec regarded fair participation as an extracurricular.
Another factor was the former Harper government’s elimination of funding for science fair programs.
The continued success of Lambton County’s fair is a direct result of citizen participation and Sarnia’s vibrant science community, Smith said.
And the sophistication of the entries makes it challenging for the 75 local judges.
“It’s far more technology-based. These are not the old type of experiments,” he said.
"I'd encourage everyone to visit the science fair and walk around talking with the students. You can't help but be inspired by their enthusiasm and their pride in explaining their project.”
Last year’s 79 entries from 100 participants was up from the previous year.
This year’s fair will see $5,000 in prizes awarded to the best entries. There are four age categories: Exhibition for Grades 3-5; Junior for Grades 6-8; Intermediate for Grades 9-10 and Senior for Grades 11-12.
The best intermediate and senior projects are eligible for the Canada Wide Science Fair in Montreal May 15-20. Local science fair organizers pay the expenses for attending students and chaperones are provided.
Details and registration forms can be found at www.lambtoncountysciencefair.ca. Registration closes April 4.
For more, contact Smith at 519-869-4682, or [email protected].