Via Video Chat, the Coriell Institute Science Fair Carries On


For nearly 40 years, the Coriell Institute has hosted a regional science fair for students in our area in the spring.  Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year’s fair on Saturday was a little different.

We knew that holding the fair in a packed gymnasium was not possible, but we also knew that these students in Coriell’s neighboring counties have worked for months on their projects. Canceling the fair entirely would mean their work would not be judged, and participants would not be able to move on to the bigger regional competition, the Delaware Valley Science Fair.

Instead, we followed the footsteps of so many workers around the world and chose to hold the fair virtually.

In just a couple of weeks, fair organizers at Coriell worked to completely redesign the fair from the ground up. A video conference platform was selected, conference times were scheduled, online storage drives were set up to house student documents, judges were re-trained and students received instruction on the new plan.

And on Saturday, nearly 100 projects were shown off by students in the safety of their dining rooms, bedrooms and other makeshift spaces. Judges had the chance to see the projects and discuss the work with these young scientists.

Local media took notice of the effort as well. The Philadelphia Inquirer and TAPinto Camden, a local news site focused on Coriell’s home city of Camden, New Jersey, wrote about the revamped event.

"Being able to participate in the Coriell Science Fair has offered me a sense of normalcy,” Lesslie Montiel, an 11th grader at Camden Academy Charter High School, said. “Being able to disconnect from the current global climate and talk about science is just one way I am coping with the situation. I am very fortunate to be able to participate in this year's program and look forward to a great discussion about my project topic--taste.”

While this year’s science fair was a bit different than what we’re used to, we’re grateful for the cooperation of all involved in making it a success nonetheless.

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