Junior and senior high-school students from across the state are gearing up to compete for prizes, awards and scholarships during the upcoming State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa on March 30-31. SSTFI holds the Governor’s STEM Seal of Approval. The event is the largest STEM competition for youth in grades 6-12 and will be hosted in person at Hilton Coliseum on the Iowa State University campus in Ames.
Research experience is core to the mission of SSTFI and allows students to gain critical scientific skills needed for postsecondary work, said Alexa Groff, Iowa 4-H STEM coordinator and director of SSTFI. Through participation in the event, students learn about science and engineering processes, problem-solving, and the importance of communicating and defending those findings to others. To compete, participants are asked to prepare a research poster detailing their findings and the data collected.
Students, teachers, families and members of the public are invited to view the exhibits and ask youth researchers questions about their projects on Thursday or Friday.
In addition to the exhibits, youth-led educational seminars will be conducted throughout both days in the biological science and physical sciences categories. Students will submit a paper on a STEM topic of their choice and the top eight in each category will get a chance to present to compete for cash prizes sponsored by Meta.
The 15 award categories are animal science, biochemistry, behavioral and social sciences, biomedical and health sciences, cellular and molecular biology, chemistry, computer science, earth and environmental sciences, engineering, mathematics, energy and transportation, microbiology, physics and astronomy, plant sciences, and robotics and intelligent machines.
“SSTFI is an exceptional way for Iowa youth to participate in active learning and develop skills necessary for postsecondary work by applying the principles of the scientific method,” said Groff. “These experiences are critical for engaging students in STEM and potentially inspiring them to pursue STEM careers in the future.”
More than $200,000 will be awarded at this year’s fair, including over 20 new scholarships to winners and scholarships from Iowa State University, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, Loras College, Iowa Wesleyan University, Northwestern College and Buena Vista University.
This year’s competition will see the return of “Lunch with a Scientist,” sponsored by Colorbiotics, for all senior high and junior high youth. Students will get to ask a panel of STEM professionals about their experiences in their field and potential career options. Another innovative addition to this year’s event is STEM-led educational outreach opportunities put on by different programs at Iowa State University.
The State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa is organized through ISU Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development with support from the following sponsors: Alliant Energy, Broadcom Foundation, Colorbiotics, Corteva Agriscience, Iowa 4-H Youth Development, Iowa State University, ISU College of Engineering, Loras College, University of Northern Iowa, Cargill, ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, ISU College of Human Sciences, NASA Iowa Space Grant Consortium, Foundation Analytical Laboratory, ISU College of Veterinary Science, ISU Program for Women in Science and Engineering, ITC Holdings, Northwestern College, University of Iowa College of Public Health, Ernest Schiller, ISU Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, and Meta.
For more information on the SSTFI, please visit https://sstfi.org/ or contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office.