Judging at a school science fair

On the 3rd of August 2019, The School and Science Bridge Academy in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia organised a Science Fair themed Magic and Science.

Students from 10 schools from all around the Klang Valley (and a couple beyond) showcased their creative presentation skills and scientific knowledge. Students were aged from 7 to 16 years old.

I was originally a volunteer helping behind the scenes. I was also manning a booth to teach kids about instant snow (superabsorbent polymers), taking the opportunity to also teach about how real snow forms.

When one of the judges was running late, I was given the opportunity to stand in – what an especially enjoyable afternoon it turned out to be!

It was just as much a learning experience for me as it was for the students. It was particularly insightful to see how the students were able to mix science, creative storytelling and showmanship. The added element of magic was effective in capturing the interest of the audience. Their perspectives were fresh and their presentations were playfully entertaining – what a deviation from the academic conferences I have become accustomed to!

Science concepts covered included acid-alkali neutralisation, friction, magnetism, sound and resonance – all presented through the guise of themed storylines including a haunted house, a “chemical bar”, a Jumanji-safari, and Harry Potter witches.

Click here for photos from the event

After each presentation, we the judges would ask the school teams questions pertaining the scientific concepts used in their performances. It was clear that most teams, through the process of creating their presentations, were able to learn the scientific concepts well.

At the end of the day, I felt extremely happy to see students getting excited and engaged with science.

A highlight was during a performance involving the use of acidic fruits as a source of electricity. Just as the judges had completed asking the team their questions, a small hand tentatively raised behind us – a Year 1 student also wanted to ask a question! “Does this mean that if we have a giant lemon, we could power an entire city?” Everyone present was floored and impressed by the young student’s inquisitiveness.

Congratulations to all schools that participated in this year’s Science Fair!