On Saturday, September 28, hundreds of people came out to meet the finalists of the Broadcom MASTERS. Visitors had the chance to meet each of the finalists and discuss the projects that qualified them as one of the 30 finalists in this national STEM competition for middle school students.
In particular, the Society was thrilled to welcome teachers and students from the Washington, DC community who we hope will become inspired to participate in their upcoming science fairs. To further support students in our community, the Society will soon launch the Broadcom MASTERS Junior Varsity program. This pilot effort is aimed at increasing and diversifying the pool of students participating and succeeding in science fair.
Several of the teachers and students who visited the Broadcom MASTERS Science and Engineering Project Showcase also attended an outreach event the Society hosted earlier in the day. Rick Bates, Society's interim CEO, described the event as an opportunity to “share your ideas about how to reach students and provide inspiration for them to focus on STEM projects.” He added that the Society's goal is to increase not only the amount of students participating in science fair, but also the quality of their projects and to develop the talent pool in our own backyard.
The event included an opportunity for student attendees to build their own roller coasters out of assorted supplies, with the goal of having a marble travel all the way through the track without needing additional assistance. Teachers and parents also had a chance to join a round-table discussion about how to get both students and adults more motivated and involved in STEM activities, such as science fair.
Issues that were raised included the importance of teacher involvement (and administrative support for such involvement), learning how to find the resources to take the step between an in-home project and one that requires more sophisticated materials and/or expertise, exposing students who don’t have family members involved in STEM to the reality of science by having them meet real scientists, finding class time to spend on science fair along with all the other required materials that need to be covered, and providing opportunities for students to participate in more hands-on experiences.