Tucson Electric Power has been a longtime sponsor and supporter of the Southern Arizona regional science fair, encouraging the next generation of engineers and scientists.
The Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation, or SARSEF, holds the annual K-12 regional science fair at the Tucson Convention Center. This year, registration is open from Jan. 10 to Feb. 20, with the fair itself and judging taking place from March 9-14.
“We want to encourage kids to get excited about science and math,” said Betsy Bolding, TEP Manager of Consumer Affairs. “The things the kids do are amazing. We identify talented students while they’re young and encourage them to keep going.”
Individual schools hold their own science fairs and send the winners to compete with other top students across the Tucson area and the region, raising the level of competition and achievement.
In 2014, more than 75,000 students participated in SARSEF at the school level. Of those, the top 10 to 15 projects from each school were selected to compete at the regional fair.
More than 4,000 students competed in the regional fair, either individually or as part of class projects. Nearly 55 percent of the students were female, and almost half of the students were from minority groups, showing the success of education efforts aimed at bringing more diversity into science, technology, engineering and math fields.
“The important thing is for kids to learn the scientific method and to help them understand that even if their hypothesis doesn’t prove out, they still learn,” Bolding said.
The SARSEF board this year is chaired by Rick Burrows, Director of Transmission & Distribution Engineering at TEP. Bolding herself served on the SARSEF board for many years and now remains on the advisory board.
About 20 TEP employees each year serve as judges. At the middle and high school level, the judges interview students about their projects, an important opportunity for students to practice communicating about their work.
In addition, the last two years TEP has hosted SARSEF Honors, a dinner and awards event. Approximately 30 top students from different grades are invited to display their exhibits for sponsors and guests to view and critique.