Expert Judges and Volunteers Needed - Arizona Science & Engineering Fair

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
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A lot has changed in science fairs since baking soda volcanoes and ant farms. Today’s science fairs highlight the growing interest of this generation in the well-being of our planet with topics ranging from sustainability, better nutrition, computer science and more.  Since 2007, the best of the state convene once a year at the Arizona Science & Engineering Fair (AzSEF) with this year’s event to be held at the Phoenix Convention Center from April 1-3, 2013. Volunteers are currently needed for an array of roles. 

With over 1,300 projects entered into the competition and thousands of kids in attendance, the event also serves as a catalyst for hope.

“Our volunteers walk away with a sense of hope,” said Phillip Huebner, director of the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair. “A sense that our students are going to make a difference in the world in the future.”

Volunteers play an integral part of the event as it depends on a number of experts in their fields to provide insight and opportunities to the young scientists. From this interaction with the experts, students also learn how to take their project or the results from their research and put these into a business plan and marketing model. 

“One of the things we instill in the judges is the importance of the kids being able to answer a simple question, ‘so what?’,” says Huebner. This helps participants focus not just on the science behind the research but also on the practical applications of it. 

There are no models or predetermined topics to follow and students work off their own interest and conduct their own research. The fair is divided into elementary, junior high and senior high school divisions with areas encompassing behavioral & social sciences, biochemistry, earth & planetary science, engineering, mathematical sciences, physics & astronomy among others (see a complete list of topics here).

For many students, participation in this event is a big part of the learning process.

“Regardless of the topic, the students learn a life skill when they have to go through the research process,” says Huebner. “One of the things we teach students is that being a scientist means you are never wrong. Because whether you prove or disregard your hypothesis, you still proved something.” 

Those who are interested in participating as judges can find out more by visiting:

A number of general volunteering opportunities are available in areas such as display and safety, student and judge check-in, general office help and more. For more information, please visit

The pinnacle of the science fair arena is the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), with over 50 countries participating. This year, the ISEF will take place in Phoenix from May 12-17 and volunteers are needed for this event as well! All are encouraged to participate, but volunteers must be over 18 years or older. Student participation is encouraged. Opportunities are available for general volunteering as well as for science judges.

Winning students from AzSEF and their teachers will be selected to attend ISEF, with all expenses paid. 

The Maricopa Community College is a turquoise-level sponsor at the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair. As such, the Maricopa Community College District will have a table at the event with recruiters representing the colleges.