Region’s students to gather at WCU for Feb. 7-8 science fair

Students from elementary, junior high and high schools throughout Western North Carolina will gather at Western Carolina University on Tuesday, Feb. 7, and Wednesday, Feb. 8, as the university hosts the Western Regional Science and Engineering Fair.

Activities take place at WCU’s Ramsey Regional Activity Center. Science projects created for the fair by area students will be available for viewing by the public from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day. Admission is free.

The fair typically attracts 250 to 300 projects created by students from more than 25 schools across the 16-county region. It is the largest STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) event held in the region, said Kefyn Catley, fair director and professor of biology at WCU.

Warren LeMay of Cullowhee Valley Elementary School listens as a contest judge, Western Carolina University’s Brian Kloeppel, comments on his project “Don’t let it go to Waste!” during a recent Science Fair at the university.

Warren LeMay of Cullowhee Valley Elementary School listens as a contest judge, Western Carolina University’s Brian Kloeppel, comments on his project “Don’t let it go to Waste!” during a recent Science Fair at the university.

The 2017 fair theme is “The Daily Impact of Water” presented by the North Carolina Section of the American Water Works Association and the North Carolina Member Association of the Water Environment Federation, said Catley. “Our presenter, Stephen Shoaf, will engage students with his exciting presentation on the vital role that water plays in the life of everyone and everything on the planet,” Catley said.

Many local school groups will be attending the fair to see the science projects. Teachers around the region are encouraged to bring students, including those who will not be presenting projects, to visit the fair, he said. “We are looking forward to a record turnout and sharing the excitement of all fields of science,” Catley said.

Students in the elementary division, grades three through five, will showcase their projects on Feb. 7. Students in the junior and senior division, grades six through 12, will display their projects Feb. 8. Categories in that division include biological science, chemistry, earth/environmental science, physics and mathematics, technology and engineering. Information on each category and registration instructions can be viewed at the event website sciencefair.wcu.edu.

Students from the 16 westernmost counties of Western North Carolina who have placed at their schools’ science fair competitions are eligible to compete in the WCU fair.

Students do not have to submit a project to attend the morning presentation or participate in activities, which will include a scavenger hunt. All students and teachers attending are eligible for prizes. For more information, go to the event website or call WCU’s Office of Continuing and Professional Education at 828-227-7397.