2021 GOES-16/17 Virtual Science Fair/Spring Equinox

Today’s blog post features a great opportunity for students from middle-school through early college!

I found myself browing through interesting satellite imagery while brainstorming ideas for this blog post, and I came across an opportunity which parents and teachers may want to share with their children/students. I think we can all concur that learning this school year has been anything but normal, and with that has come positive and negative outcomes. One of the positive results of so much virtual time is the number of online opportunities which students from all across the country can take part in- something that may not have been possible only a year ago. Today I would like to share with you one of those: a virtual science fair.

Raising kids to love (or at least learn!) science from an early age!

Can any parents relate to the picture above? All through elementary school, we would research ideas (weather was the obvious choice for a first science fair entry!), do a project, and make one of these trifold boards. When my son got older it truly became a team effort. Lava lamps, race cars, race car ramps, I think we did it all! The science fair was always an event our kids looked forward to. In addition to student projects which were viewed by several adult volunteers, we also had activities for the kids ranging from biomechanics demonstrations by local college students from RPI, a planetarium exhibit right in the gym, and a reptile hands-on, and more! I have to say that, while it was a ton of work, planning the school science fair each year was something I loved, because I was able to help kids get excited about science by experiencing it.

The mayor made a guest appearance at our science fair for a few years!

Obviously with so many children either hybrid or fully remote now, the whole idea of a school science fair has changed, as it is no longer possible to hold large events like this in-person. So, when I read about the GOES-16/17 virtual science fair, I was so excited to share this event with you.

The Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) is a cooperative parternship between NOAA, NASA, and the University of Wisconsin/Madison to foster collaborative research using satellite technology. As such, this science fair is a little more topic-driven than most- the idea here is that participants must incorporate satellite in some way in their project. The science fair is set up in three categories: middle school, highschool, and grades 13/14 (community college or university).

Participants can enter individually or as teams, so if you are a teacher, you could do this as a class project in conjunction with a unit on weather! The website is very helpful and provides lots of resources and ideas for projects- the CIMMS satellite blog is one great place to start.

GOES-16 True Color RGB images showing dust and smoke plumes over New Mexico and a strong winter storm. Courtesy: CIMMS

Some ideas could include: studying a real-time weather event, looking at a past weather event, or researching a particular natural hazard (such as the dust plumes above) and learning about that hazard through study of satellite imagery. The main science fair website includes some great introductory material on the GOES-R series satellites and what each ABI Band (or channel) can be used for.

All entries must include a poster in power-point or PDF format (they provide a template for you to use), a 2-5 minute presentation in recorded video format (such as a YouTube video), or a narrated power point in which the students describe the poster, similar to what they might do in person for science fair judges, and an optional photo of the student(s).

2020 first-place middle school entry.

One winning team is selected from each age bracket, and each winning team receives $25 gift cards AND official GOES-T launch viewing invitations to Kennedy Space Center (travel support not provided), which is currently scheduled for December 2021. The deadline for project submission is May 22, 2021.

2020 first-place highschool entry.

If you or your student(s) enter the science fair, reply here in the comments and let us know how it went!

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