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Aspiring Scientists to Compete for Prizes in DC STEM Fair on March 24

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Aspiring Scientists to Compete for Prizes in DC STEM Fair on March 24

8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Hundreds of students from dozens of schools across the District will display projects and compete for awards and prizes in the DC STEM Fair scheduled Saturday, March 24, 2012, at Wilson High School.

In its 66th year, the fair will give DC Public Schools, public charter, private, parochial and homeschooled students in grades 6-12 a chance to showcase their research skills in 16 categories that cover everything from microbiology to astronomy.

“For students across the District, the DC STEM Fair marks the culmination of months of hard work that involved research, experimentation and revision,” said DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “The fair also gives educators and parents an opportunity to see what happens when students take what they learn in the classroom, use their imaginations, and apply their knowledge.”

More than 240 students from 37 public and private schools have submitted projects for the DC STEM Fair. And 105 judges and more than 60 volunteers from a variety of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professions and backgrounds will be on hand to interact with students and evaluate projects. 

Each project will be judged by a panel of three judges. Students will present their projects to the panel and then participate in a brief question-and-answer session before being dismissed. Students are encouraged to submit projects in a PowerPoint format – as opposed to cardboard, tri-fold displays – in an effort to be more environmentally conscious.

The fair also will feature the DC STEM Expo, which is an exciting way to highlight STEM-based community organizations to fair participants, parents and community members. Organizations including industry partners, nonprofits, local museums, higher education institutions, federal agencies and military partners will participate and can request space for a booth to provide materials and/or demonstrate STEM-based resources. 

CHANGES FOR 2011-2012

This year, District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) has taken back ownership of the fair, re-branding this school year’s competition as the DC STEM Fair. The DCPS Office of STEM Initiatives sees the fair as a strategic priority for our students.

A key component of the STEM vision for DCPS is to increase both achievement and engagement in STEM subjects. Participation in competitions, such as the DC STEM Fair, and after-school experiences will help accomplish this goal. Of the 37 schools participating, 24 are DC Public Schools.

Last year’s science fair (DC Science and Engineering Fair – DCSEF) was open to students in grades 3-12. This year, the DC STEM Fair will be open only to students in grades 6- 12, with a separate elementary school science event tentatively planned for May 19, 2012, for students in grades 3-5.

This move will help focus the secondary-level projects on more rigorous research and hopefully lead to higher levels of student engagement and achievement at the middle and high school levels. The change also directly addresses requests from many elementary school leaders for a later fair date to accommodate the DC-CAS testing schedule.


The DC STEM Fair follows another successful STEM initiative for DC Public Schools: the DCPS STEM Stakeholders Summit. Held in early March, the summit generated support for science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and computer science/IT education in DC Public Schools.

Participants from academia, government, industry, professional societies and nonprofits convened for a full day to engage in interactive, collaborative sessions to identify short-, medium- and long-term goals for supporting students and educators.

They also brainstormed ways for the community to coordinate efforts to support these goals and nominated members to form a DCPS STEM Advisory Board that will meet quarterly to evaluate progress, identify best practices and monitor progress toward meeting collective goals.

The fair also precedes another prominent STEM event: The FIRST Robotics DC Regional Competition. On March 30, 11 teams from DC Public Schools will join 52 other East Coast high school teams to compete at the Washington DC Convention Center.

This year, the dishwasher-size robots have to scoop up basketballs from the floor, shoot them at three different heights of basketball hoops, and then balance on a see-saw.  Each three-minute match is between six robots split into two teams; red and blue. The matches are played on a field the size of a basketball court with real-time scoring.

Contact: Melissa Salmanowitz | 202.535.1096