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Preliminary Judging at the CT Science Fair
March 15th, 2012 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

Tuesday, March 13, marked my 12th year participating in the Connecticut Science Fair.  Although my first 10 years brought me the joy of my own students presenting their work, the past two have found me in a new role – judging projects.  Since my leave from the classroom, this is probably the one time of year when I most miss not having high school students.  Their and my collaboration to create meaningful projects, get them done, and present them on posters was a highlight of the year for me.

However this year brought me a new highlight. I was asked to head up a new category: the Urban School Challenge.  As part of my responsibilites, I had to recruit judges and I wound up inviting some that have real significance to me.

First, was Ann – Ann was my high school biology teacher.  She was the woman who inspired me to pursue a vocation in science.  I still look fondly back to my 11th grade year when she mentored me in a year-long independent science project.

Second, was Steve – Steve is a regular commenter here, so I am guessing he will probably read this post at some point.  Steve was a student in my graduate class in Methods in Science class.  A “second-careerer,” Steve was perhaps my most thoughtful and forward thinking student in his class.  I think he really understood the value of having students pursue research, and I was so pleased that he got the opportunity to see the process first-hand.

Third, was Tyler – Tyler, now an undergrad at the University of Connecticut majoring in Computer Science was one of my best research students. He participated in these fairs, now works as an intern for me, and most importantly got a chance to see the fair from the “other side.”

For me, it was a somewhat surreal 3-generation reunion.  Most importantly we were there helping to form the future scientists and engineers of the country.


One Response  
  • Steven Baumann writes:
    March 17th, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Frank,
    Congratulations on not only initiating the successful first year of the Urban School Challenge, but also of being the VP of the entire Fair!
    What a wonderful time, and thank you for reaching out to include me in this event.

    In echoing your comments, it was a real treat to spend time with both Ann and Tyler, 2 genuinely gifted individuals.
    Ann’s background it extremely impressive. A high school science teacher for over 30 years, and still the sparkle in her eye and fire in her belly continues after all this time!
    Tyler is equally gifted: mature beyond his years and obviously engaged with the application of technology in respect to the needs of today’s educators. I fully expect to hear great things about him in the coming years.

    And then there were the 400 plus students who participated in the Fair. I was most impressed with the pure joy that the students showed when interviewed. From the 7th graders (yes there were 7th grade students) all the way through the VERY impressive seniors; all were passionate about their research and presentations. It is good to know that science is alive and prospering in our public schools. And as with any championship season for a scholastic athlete, I do not know, after witnessing this State Science Fair, how one cannot be anything short of a total advocate for spreading the success that these students have achieved.


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