Posted April 4, 2023

Temple hosts Philadelphia students for Carver Science Fair

One of America’s longest-standing urban science fairs returned to Temple’s campus this

Judges and a student at the science fair
Photography By: 
Joseph V. Labolito
Students' projects cover a range of scientific domains.

Temple University has a long-standing history of providing a variety of programs, events and initiatives to support and uplift our North Philadelphia neighborhood. This story is one example of many that illustrates the work we do in our community.

In early March, 41 teachers and 291 middle and high school students representing 36 schools from across the Philadelphia region gathered on Temple University’s campus for the annual George Washington Carver Science Fair.

This is not your average science fair. It is a 40+ year collaboration between Temple University and the Philadelphia community. Topics of students’ projects ranged from traditional sciences such as chemistry and biology, to computer science and psychology. Students tested windmill efficiency, crafted their own bath bombs, measured the effects of anxiety on lung capacity, designed roller coasters and more.

The elementary fair hosted fourth and fifth graders who showcased science projects and participated in science demonstrations on the subjects of chemistry, earth and environmental science, physics, biology, computer and information sciences, and more. The secondary fair hosted middle and high school students encouraged to compete for placement in the regional Delaware Valley Science Fair.

“Any kid with any interest can find an area to study,” said Sue Jansen-Varnum, tenior
associate dean for undergraduate affairs and science education at Temple University’s College of Science andTechnology (CST). “Almost every area of science you can think of is covered, and students can work individually or as a team.”

“The Carver fair is one of the longest-running urban science fairs in the country,” said Sarah Wengryniuk, associate professor of chemistry  who has volunteered for the fair since 2015. “It gives opportunities to hundreds of elementary through high school students to hypothesize, experiment and develop a love for STEM.”

The fair also aims to foster community between Temple University and the broader Philadelphia area. The event is put together by CST and the Temple University Office of Community Affairs and Engagement. The fair was started by the late Tom Anderson, and his legacy is carried on by Dean Michael L. Klein who continues to support and expand CST community engagement. Klein has served as the dean of CST since 2013.

“Temple has a long-standing commitment to meeting the needs of the Philadelphia community, particularly children and families residing in North Philadelphia, by providing experiences and opportunities that are designed to achieve educational equity,” said Val Harrison, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

"Seanna Monroe, a senior math with teaching major at CST, volunteered at the fair to give words of encouragements to participants. She explained that the Carver Science Fair does not simply teach the procedure of science but bestows a lesson of curiosity amongst its participants, something that all students can benefit from.

“When it comes to science fairs, it gives them a chance to facilitate their own learning and give them a ‘eureka moment,’” said Monroe. “I hope that I can do what my math teacher did, which is instill a sense of confidence in the next generation of STEM students.”

Noelle Smith, a 10th grade student of Hill-Freedman World Academy in Northwest Philadelphia, presented a chemistry project in which she refined rosasite (a mineral containing zinc and copper) into a powder and used it to clean lake water. Inspired by her chemistry teacher, she chose to use the Carver Science Fair as an opportunity to tackle a real-world problem. Smith hopes to continue studying chemistry beyond high school and was excited to be on Temple’s campus for the fair as she considers her plans after graduation.

“I want to do science or engineering [in college], but I also want to do something with music,”
Smith said. Smith is determined to merge her interests in STEM with her creative side and sees Temple as a potential place to accomplish that.

- Remy Andrea