And yes! I made it to the state science fair! After mono stopped me last year, I was kind of wondering what the follow-up act might be.
This fair wasn’t really any different from the other fairs I’ve done, other than being bigger – and of course, the projects generally being incredibly high quality. Which makes sense, considering these were the winners from the regional science fairs. I think that everyone in my category did a great job and had a lot of enthusiasm for science, which makes me happy.
There were five judges in my group. I was the only woman, and also the youngest by far. The latter isn’t really a surprise; the average age of a science fair judge is pretty high. Probably because science-y people don’t have a lot of volunteering time to use in the middle of the week until they’re long out of grad school or their entry-level industry job. I’m also used to there not being many women in my normal category – Earth sciences – because that’s really what the demographics for older people working in that field look like right now. And all of the guys were really nice, as usual – downright avuncular, truth be told.
The surprising thing was that every student in my category was female. For reals. I think the other judges were a bit shocked, and were kind of wondering where all the boys had gotten to. (One of them made a joke about none of the boys going outside any more because they’re all playing too many video games…) I’m guessing that this was just some kind of fluke, since I have no idea what the makeup of the category looked like last year, or will look like in the future. But it was pretty exciting to see that many young women that enthusiastic about earth sciences.
One difference from the regional fairs was the huge number of “special awards” judges, which isn’t something you normally see in smaller fairs. This was a bit frustrating at times, since some projects were in line to be judged for a lot of special awards, and that made it really hard to get in and actually talk to the student. I’ll have to check tomorrow to see what all of the results ended up being. As soon as we’d done places for our category, I got to go home… our poor team captain has to stay until late tonight, since that’s apparently when the knock-down drag-out fight between judges over best in show happens. Good luck to him.