Even if it's been years since the last time you set foot in a school, the term "science fair" probably conjures up a clear mental image. The competitive world of cardboard triptychs and the scientific method has become part of popular culture. It's played a part in everything from a Pulitzer prize-winning play to episodes of "The Cosby Show" and "Monk."
The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge is like a science fair on a mission. Just like in an ordinary science fair, students research a subject, develop a hypothesis, test it and report on their findings. But there are no man-in-the-moon marigolds, rubber-ball models of the solar system or exceptionally long-lived pet fish in the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge. Instead, this fair focuses on identifying and addressing environmental problems -- it's a science competition with a green theme.
The goal of the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge is to do more than just give kids a chance to formulate an experiment and carry it out. Contestants explore an environmental problem that affects their community. As part of the challenge, students must also put together guidelines for how other communities could repeat the project, and they share those guidelines as part of the contest. The basic idea is to give lots of communities new tools for conservation and sustainability and give students a new way to study science at the same time.
Who can participate in the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, and how are the entries judged? Other than a slew of new conservation programs, what are the competition's rewards? Find out on the next few pages.