Orange County Branch Newsletter

February 2017

K-12 Outreach Committee

Volunteering at the McPherson Magnet School Science Fair


By Nathan Forrest, P.E.

On Monday, February 13th, Josue Vaglienty and I had the opportunity to volunteer to help judge students' science projects at the McPherson Magnet School science fair. We learned about this opportunity and need through the ASCE OC K-12 Outreach Committee. This committee works hard to allow civil engineering professionals to have a classroom presence in Orange County as well as helping educators to present engineering concepts in their classrooms. 

There was a group of volunteer judges from a number of scientific disciplines present, including a genetics researcher, an environmental scientist, a physics professor, a computer language developer, and many more that I didn't get a chance to talk with. There were approximately 40 volunteer judges present.

There were about 80 students in each of 3 sessions to have their science projects judged. The projects were highly varied; some of which were related to our field and several that were not at all but that were still very interesting. The judging criteria included items like how well the scientific process was used, hoe the data was presented, whether the data led to useful conclusions about the experiment and an area I did not expect - a score for acknowledgements for the friends, family, volunteers, etc. that helped with their work. We were also asked to make note of any projects that were particular standouts and to recommend that they move on to a county-wide competition.

On the whole, it was a very fulfilling volunteer experience. Seeing the thought, work, and pride these students put into their experiments was a refreshing change of pace from the day-to-day work of an engineer. If you can find a time that fits your schedule, I would encourage you to sign up for some of the opportunities offered by the K-12 Outreach Committee. While this particular event took up most of the day, many of the volunteer needs are only for a few hours and several are in the evenings or on the weekends.