By Caitlin Jennings, Communications Specialist, Society for Science & the Public
Bethany Vitaris (DCYSCS 2001, Intel ISEF 2004) is the Science Fair Girl.
“I’ve always been really passionate about science fairs,” she says. Thanks to science competitions, Bethany learned to weld, built roller coasters, and met young scientists from across the world. Science fairs also inspired her to pursue both bachelors and masters degrees in engineering. Due to her high school experience doing research, she also received a research and development internship in college.
“I’ve always felt that a lot of the opportunities that I’ve had have been because of my participation in science fairs, and I wanted to pass that on to other people,” Bethany says. That’s why, in 2005, after tutoring younger students on their science fair projects, she pulled her resources together and posted them on http://sciencefairgirl.com/. The site has free lessons and tips to help students start their own research project.
“I’m constantly working on [the site],” Bethany says. “It’s definitely a huge passion of mine.” She is currently putting together a new workbook, based on her own thoughts and the experiences of her parents, to help parents help their kids. “One of the biggest things that parents have trouble with is finding that line between helping and doing it for them, or trying to get the child to want to do it themselves,” Bethany says.
Finding the right project can make all the difference. Bethany recently spoke to a mom whose son was dreading doing his required science fair project. Bethany talked to her about different ideas for projects, ideas that might spark his interests. The mom talked to her son and let Bethany know that one idea excited him so much he just took off with it. “He’s running with it and [his mom] doesn’t really have to do anything.”