Plano District Science Fair
Students who are thinking and acting like scientists have already mastered the first step to science fair success. Science fair is in-depth learning on a project of interest to each student scientist. With 22 categories, "We can find a category for your interest," says Secondary Science Coordinator Karen Shepherd. Students are excited about the challenges and even say "it's a passion." That passion all begins with a questioning mind. Plano ISD is proud of its tradition of winning in science competitions from district through international levels. At the junior level Plano ISD students bring home 50% of the regional and 33% of the state awards with 50-75% of the grand prizes. At the senior level, Plano ISD students bring home 90% of the regional and 50-75% of the state awards. The district science fair began in Plano in 1984 with 40 projects and in 2018 had 401 projects by 509 students. At the heart of our program are our science fair judges.
Celebrating 35 years of student research!
In 1984, The Plano District Science Fair began its legacy of science achievement. The first science fair was hosted by Clark High School and included fewer than 40 projects. The 2018 fair took place at the Plano Centre on February 8, 2018 and included 401 projects presented by 509 students! Who could have anticipated our current level of success and the growth of the local science fair back in 1984? Community support has always been instrumental in our success. Community volunteers and sponsors make this event possible. Without this type of support, we would not have been able to achieve the level of success that Plano students experience year after year.
A Tradition of Winning
At the regional level in 2018, Plano ISD high school students earned 84% of the category awards including 89% of the first place awards; middle school students earned 54% of all category awards including 56% of the first place awards. At the State Science Fair, Plano ISD junior level students captured 17% of the overall awards including 23% of the 1st places, 14% of the 2nd places, and 23% of the 3rd places. Senior division students captured 25% of the overall category awards including 23% of the 1st places, 27% of the 2nd places, and 18% of the 3rd places. Junior division brought home 75% of the Grand Prizes and Tanaz Muhammed, Otto Middle School, captured Best in State Award
At the International Science and Engineering Fair, eight Plano ISD projects brought home numerous awards in cash, scholarships and travel opportunities. Participating in these competitions encourages students to pursue science related careers and realize their dreams.
So, how does a student begin the journey to the International Science and Engineering Fair?
Students begin by entering the Plano District Science Fair. They then move to the Dallas Regional Fair where the senior students (grades 9 – 12) compete for a spot at the International Science and Engineering Fair. Currently, more than 1600 high school students representing over 70 countries, regions and territories attend the International Science Fair. Top young researchers compete for over $4 million in awards. Over the years, 167 projects from Plano have qualified and competed at the Intel ISEF capturing over 190 awards and scholarships.
First in Category awards were earned by Stefan Block (1999), Kathy Li (2000 and 2001), Ryan Alexander (2009), Amy Chyao (2010), Ria Chhabra(2014), Nicky Wojtania (2016), Tiasha Joardar (2016), Nicky Wojtania (2017), Burzin Balsara and Malav Shah (2018). The next level of award, Best in Category, was awarded to Kathy Li (2000 and 2001), Ryan Alexander (2009), Amy Chyao (2010), Ria Chhabra (2014), Nicky Wojtania (2016 and 2017), Tiasha Joardar (2016) and Burzin Balsara and Malav Shah (2018). The highest award at the Intel ISEF is the Gordon E. Moore Award for Best in Fair. This award was presented to Amy Chyao in 2010 for her work in cancer research, specifically her work in targeted drug delivery.
Senior level students are also invited to present their work in the Regeneron STS (formerly the Westinghouse Science Competition and the Intel STS). Since 1995, Plano has had 46 semifinalists. Each year, students enter the Intel STS and compete for $1.25 million in awards. Only 300 students are announced as semifinalists. From this select pool, 40 finalists are invited to participate in the final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable scientists, and compete for the top award of $100,000. Since 1995, 41 Plano ISD students have been awarded the scholars (semifinalists) designation and 9 scholars (semifinalists) have been selected as finalists. The finalists include Deborah Yeh (1995), Stefan Block (2000), Jimmy Yang (2005), Alex Huang (2008), Elise Lin (2010), Rounok Joardar (2011), Amy Chyao (2012), Lisa Michaels (2014) and Krithika Iyer (2017).
Students in grades 11 and 12 are also eligible to compete in the Siemens Science Competition. In the last four years, 38 Plano ISD students have been awarded the semifinalist status. In 2016, Shriya Beesam and Adhya Beesam were national team finalists and captured the first place, $100,000 award.
Volunteers are the heart of our program. If you are interested in volunteering as a judge, you will find more information by contacting: Karen Shepherd (firstname.lastname@example.org)