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Regional Science Fair Recognizes American Indian Students' Talents


March 01, 2005

MESA, Ariz. – For the last six months, students in American Indian communities from around the state have been preparing for the third annual Arizona American Indian Science and Engineering Fair (AISEF) on March 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the San Marcos Resort in Chandler, Ariz. The exhibits are open to the public from 5 to 8 p.m. during the award ceremony, which will be emceed by KPNX/Channel 12 news reporter Mary Kim Titla.

More than 150 students in grades 5-12 from Arizona and neighboring states will participate in the science fair, hosted by Arizona State University’s American Indian Programs and sponsored by Intel and corporate partners throughout the state.

Prior to 2000, a student living in an American Indian community in Arizona most likely never had an opportunity to participate in a regional science fair. That started to change when Phillip Huebner, director of the American Indian Programs at the Polytechnic campus and director of the science fair, began to work closely with teachers throughout Arizona’s Indian communities to help them learn how to prepare students for a science fair, coordinate local science fairs and compete at a regional level.

"Phil works with some of the most impoverished areas in Arizona , and I believe his efforts are making a difference in improving the education of the students from these areas," said Jerry Jakubowski, provost for the Polytechnic campus. 

A lot of work goes into preparing for the local and regional science fairs, from the upfront training and coordination with the teachers to the coordination of volunteers at AISEF. But Huebner would not give this up for the world because he realizes what an inspiration science fairs and research projects can be for students.

"In the more than 14 years I have been involved in Indian education, I have never seen anything impact an individual student as much as the development of a research project, presenting it at a fair and being recognized for his/her efforts," said Huebner, who also started a similar program while working in South Dakota prior to coming to Arizona.

Huebner believes that the science projects are not only excellent for students, but benefit teachers by providing a format in which to teach science. At the AISEF event, training is also available for teachers along with curriculum materials for grades K-12 and unlimited resources. Huebner adds that four three-day science fair workshops are also provided free of charge annually to teachers at locations throughout the state.

All the students and teachers are recognized at AISEF and some will be invited to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair that will be held in Phoenix, May 8-13, where more than 1,300 students from more than 30 countries compete.

"Six individual and three team projects, including their teachers, from AISEF will be selected to attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, all expenses paid," said Huebner.

In addition, all the teachers will be recognized for their efforts with a bag loaded with educational items from various sponsors, and those teachers whose students place highest in one of three divisions receive a digital camera donated by RICOH.

More than 70 judges from the university and corporate sector are donating their time and expertise. ASU faculty and staff are doing their part by making donations of goods or helping with logistics at the fair as well. Medtronic Microelectronics Center employees will lend a hand as part of the company’s Community Day, where 1,300 employees spend the day assisting 62 community organizations on 80 different projects across the Valley.

For more information about the event, to volunteer or for sponsorship information, contact Huebner at (480) 727-1306 or by e-mail at phillip.huebner@asu.edu.