Community pulls together to make science fair happen

North Lake Tahoe Bonanza:   Not all of us are born with natural athletic talent. Yet those who are will probably receive all kinds of accolades whether it is notoriety in the local paper or scholarships to various colleges who are chomping at the bit to draft the best of the best. Academic achievement can also attract the same enthusiasm and this year the Incline Elementary School will enter the Nevada Science Fair as it has for so many years in the past.

The school’s long and successful history with the science fair has had its fair share of winners, some even leading to participation in the Western Nevada Regional Science and Engineering Fair which draws students from even the most remote towns to compete with fellow student inventors and scientists.

This year the fair almost didn’t happen. During a PTA meeting early in the school year parents wondered if there were enough students interested in entering the fair to make it worth all of the hard work it takes to pull this event off. Luckily Larry Swick, concerned parent of a third grader stepped in. He felt that "It isn’t right to give up the science fair. It allows kids to show off their ingenuity and creativity in a fun and inspiring environment." Mr. Swick took the reins and thanks to nearly two dozen parent volunteers, PTA members who collectively raised $350 and community businesses who also donated $650, the show will go on.

Students from grades K-5 can choose between the science/engineering competition and the Lemelson Young Inventors challenge. Dorothy Ginsberg, wife of the late Jerome Lemelson, inventor and creator of over 550 patents, established a foundation which funds many programs to promote invention and entrepreneurship. His work inspired such inventions as the ATM, bar code readers, cell phones and countless other inventions that the modern world uses on a daily basis. This challenge encourages students to design innovations that are realistic, yet outside the mainstream.

Assistant Science and Technology professor Suzanne Gollery at Sierra Nevada College is putting together a panel of judges from the local science community and will bring an elite credibility to this year’s fair.

This mind-stimulating contest will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 in the multi-purpose room. Students can still register for the science fair and should contact their teacher for entry forms. Each grade will receive two separate awards for first, second, and third place, one for science projects and the other for the invention challenge. First place winners will receive a science experimentation kit and may earn a chance to compete in the Western Nevada Regional Science and Engineering fair March 20-22 in Reno.

Parents may assist budding scientists by helping with the display portion of the project but only at the students’ direction. So while we observe our children in the midst of this creative process, we can let their enthusiasm remind us of the wonder we felt when we made our first exploding volcano in class, or watched the space shuttle rocket into space and thought "I want do that someday too."

To learn more about the science fair please visit

Naomi Freidus writes this column for the Incline Elementary School PTA.

Naomi Freidus
Special to the Bonanza