Iowa State University


Sande McNabb, Forestry/Plant Pathology, (515) 294-3120
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- A robot that can follow a pre-programmed path, a comparative study of microwave popcorn products and a study of the electromagnetic fields released by household appliances are among the 400 science projects on display at the first Iowa State Science and Technology Fair. The fair will convene Friday and Saturday (March 21 and 22) at Hilton Coliseum.

It is the only statewide general science fair for middle and high school students in Iowa. Fair hours are from 1 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday. The fair concludes Saturday with an awards ceremony at 5 p.m.

"These are the best science projects from all across Iowa," said Iowa State President Martin Jischke. "We are delighted to have them all under one roof in Hilton. I encourage people to come to the fair and see these exhibits. I think they'll be amazed at what these outstanding young people have accomplished."

Projects this year include a fourth-generation project on hybrid poplar trees that are disease tolerant, a study of whether minced onion or garlic can stimulate the growth of vegetables, a comparative study of the benefits of battery energy vs. solar energy, a taste testing project of homemade sodas, and a comparison of the effectiveness of different hand cleansers. Many of the exhibits are quite visual.

The science areas covered are broadly divided into physical and biological sciences at three levels: seventh grade, eighth grade, and senior (ninth through twelfth grades). Students have put in a significant amount of time on these projects, working on them during the preceding summer, fall and winter. Many of the projects are continuations from previous years. For example, there are fourth-generation robot and poplar tree projects in this year's fair.

Prizes are awarded at the seventh- and eighth-grade levels. High school winners also receive prizes with the top three awarded scholarships. Also, many topical awards are given by state, federal, university and industrial groups.

In addition to the exhibits of science projects, there will be several other highlights during the Science Fair:

-- Sheila Widnall, the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force and once a participant in national science fairs, will make a presentation at the fair Friday at 4:45 p.m.

-- There will be a 10th anniversary banquet for ISU's Program for Women in Science and Engineering at the Scheman Building Friday evening. Helen Lane, a NASA nutritionist, will give a presentation at the banquet at approximately 7 p.m. and Widnall will speak at 8:45 p.m.

-- Iowa State's new solar car, ExCYtor, will be on display at the fair.

-- Several Iowa State University departments and colleges will have displays at the fair, and area business exhibitors include Mary Greeley Medical Center, 3M and Monsanto.

The Iowa State Science and Technology Fair is in the first year at Iowa State University. For the past 39 years, the fair was held in Des Moines and was called the Hawkeye Science Fair.

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Diana Pounds, University Relations,
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