Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Intel Science Talent Search--get them started young

The Intel Science Talent Search is America's oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition. Think of it as a mega-science fair of the grandest scale. 1600 kids apply, 300 make finalists, 40 get to compete. How do young kids make it into such a program? Start them early. Most elementary schools hold a science fair with participants as young as 6 years old and in first grade.

Li Boynton, a Senior at Bellaire High School in Texas, started doing science projects in fifth grade. She has since accrued $50,000 in scholarships, is a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search, and to top it all off, will sit next to Michelle Obama tonight at the State of the Union...and that's before she even finds out if she wins the competition.

Most STS finalists began their love of science from an early age, and the trend to do so is growing. February has become somewhat of a "Science Fair Season", with the retailers even hopping onto the fair wagon. Visit your local craft or hobby store and you'll see special kiosks with everything your little scientist needs.

Remember to keep science fun and it will hold kids' interest. Not all science fair admissions need to be experiments or erupting volcanoes (though this is a popular one for first and second graders, the messier the better). Research projects on a particular subject with facts and photos on a display board work well too. Just be sure your budding scientist does the work, with your guidance.

Who knows? Perhaps a few of this years elementary level science fair participants will be competing for the Intel prize in 2020?