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Science Fair

March 26, 2020

These have to be the smartest kids in the history of the world. This is amazing.

What in the world? *author sits in silence – stunned*
I consider myself a fairly intelligent person. I did all those nerdy things you’re supposed to do in school. Honor roll. Academic teams (State Champion Fine Arts and Spell Bowl – thank you very much). Mathcounts. Band. I was even in the Spelling Bee for one year until I went out on the word synagogue. But I’m not good at spelling things out loud, meaning one and done was enough for me. I also work at a library. That is consistently in the Top 10 Nerdiest Jobs in the World. (It’s ok – all the librarians I know are very proud of this fact.)
So how is it that I had NO IDEA that a world of competitive science fair exists? The only science fair project I remember doing was testing potatoes with iodine for starch (they turned blue - I thought it was cool). ISEF, which stands for the International Science and Engineering Fair, is held every year and the winner receives a $75,000 grant to further their research. And we’re not talking stupid potatoes. These students are reengineering wings and developing better stethoscopes for developing nations and studying neural networks linking teenagers with risky behavior.
What? I mean…WHAT?
Who are these kids? 
This is so far from anything I ever experienced in high school that I am completely flabbergasted. To be fair, science is not now, nor has it ever been, my gift. And yet, as I sat on my couch watching this movie unfold, I’m sure my mouth was agog. Total and complete agogness. 
In addition to interviewing current competitors, the film directors also interviewed past ISEF winners – all of whom have become respected doctors in their chosen fields. My only moment of pique occurred when one of these winners – who is now a rocket scientist for NASA complained that the US is not supporting and standing behind its scientists. 
Exsqueeze me…a baking powder? Try being a musician or an artist. I’ve never heard of a science program being cut in favor of jazz band. But I digress.
In order to compete in ISEF, students have to qualify by winning a local ISEF-approved science fair. Did you know we have one here in Middle Tennessee? On March 27, Belmont University will host the Middle Tennessee Science and Engineering Fair, or MTSEF if you will. Winners will be chosen to attend the 2020 ISEF which runs from May 10-15 in Hollywood. It’s too late to sign up this year, but you’ve got plenty of time to start getting your projects ready for next year. 
So throw those potatoes in the pot and let’s get coding. Or solving world hunger. Or whatever other socially aware genius scientist thing you can come up with.
Just ask yourself – what would Sheldon Cooper do?
Happy Smart-peopling…
:) Amanda

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Amanda is a classically-trained pianist who loves to read. Like any good librarian, she also has two cats named after Italian cities. Amanda spends her free time sitting in Nashville traffic, baking, and running the Interlibrary Loan office at the Nashville Public Library.

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