Calling student scientists: still time to enter competition

As the Towson-Timonium Kiwanis club prepares for its 60th Baltimore Science Fair, organizers are hoping to recruit a few more student scientists to submit their research.

The competition, which will be held March 21-22 at Towson University, is open to students in grades six to 12 who live in Baltimore, Harford, Carroll, Cecil or Howard counties. Polytechnic Institute students are also eligible, according to Bob Bufano, the science fair's organizer for the past five years. Other Baltimore City students participate in a city-sponsored fair held at Morgan State University, he said.


"We are a regional fair to find candidates for the international fair," Bufano said. The Kiwanis pays for the grand-prize winners and their teachers to take part in the international competition. "We can send up to three," he said. "Some of the students are amazing with what they're doing."

The fair is still in the planning stages but Bufano is hoping to bring back participants from the past 60 years during the awards ceremony on Sunday to speak about what they have done since their own science fair days.

Nearly 2,000 students from around the world attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, sponsored by the Society for Science and the Public, according to SSP's website. It is the world's largest international pre-college science competition.

In addition to the grand prizes awarded during the two-day fair, up to 60 or 70 awards will be given by local industries and government organizations, Bufano said. Representatives from NASA, the armed forces, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman are among those who will be on hand, he said.

Entries are reviewed for a whole range of criteria, to be sure the projects are ethical and not dangerous, for example, Bufano said.

High school winners in the categories of biological and physical sciences go on to the International Science Fair, which this year will be held in Pittsburgh in May.

"It's a pretty sophisticated competition at that level," Bufano said.

The Towson Kiwanis, and now the Towson-Timonium Kiwanis, have sponsored the annual competition since the 1950s at a time when science was gaining a new emphasis, according to Bufano. It's one of the original regional fairs, he said.

The organization is completely volunteer-run and relies on contributions from local industry, such as Becton Dickinson, as well as a grant from the Kiwanis.

"It's a great experience," Bufano said.

Registration continues until March 6. Go to http://www.baltimoresciencefair.org/student-registration-for-2015-fair for rules and registration.