The COVID-19 pandemic made the need for scientific research clear. Students of today could become the future’s leaders in research.
So when it was time for the annual Ozarks Science and Engineering Fair (OSEF), administrators decided to convert the event into a virtual one.
What is OSEF?
OSEF supports high school and middle school students’ science and engineering research.
Through the regional competition, student participants complete original research projects. Then they present their work to experienced judges, local scientists and other professionals.
Michelle Norgren, executive director of OSEF, explains how OSEF managed presentations virtually.
About the changes
OSEF moved the competition’s events from March to the end of April. They also scheduled high school and middle school competitions for separate weeks.
The shift in format also required a new approach to presentations.
“Participants used Dropbox and Zoom to share their display boards and project abstracts,” Norgren said. “Each student then engaged in a 15-minute discussion on Zoom with a panel of judges.”
About the advantages
OSEF traditionally welcomes participants from 16 Missouri counties.
With the virtual format, OSEF could also welcome students from other regions with canceled fairs.
“It was an honor for OSEF to provide students at Camdenton High School, Camdenton Middle School and Eldon High School with presentation opportunities,” Norgren said.
The new platform also opened the fair to the greater North American continent.
“The online Zoom platform allowed students to discuss their research projects with judges from the U.S. and Canada,” Norgren said. “It was a unique opportunity to connect students with scientists, researchers, engineers and educators from across North America.”