Cora Beth Abel, Executive Director of the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair, recently shared her perspective on the value and challenges of science fairs with Heather Goldstone of WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station.
During the nearly half-hour-long interview, Abel emphasized the importance of mentors in the science fair process. “Scientists can really help a student experience and understand how ‘real’ science gets accomplished,” she said. “The student gets to ‘own’ the research project and will probably have to overcome some obstacles, which demands curiosity. Science fair projects are more relevant than ever before given our high-stakes innovation economy.” MSSEF’s Curious Minds initiative takes a multi-pronged approach to engaging every Massachusetts middle and high school student in inquiry-based learning, including professional development opportunities for teachers leading to the STEM Certificate in Inquiry.
Of her own science fair experiences, WCAI’s Goldstone says, “…science fair was clearly a memorable learning experience. Perhaps that’s what experts are talking about when they refer to the power of student-driven, inquiry-based learning.”