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Monday, February 7, 2011

Science and America


Dick's remarks at the St Charles School Science Fair Awards Ceremony.


On behalf of my colleagues today and the Washington Academy of Sciences, I would like to thank you for inviting us to today's St Charles School Science Fair. Judging new scientists is fun for us older scientists, that's why my colleagues and I keep showing up year after year. Again, thank you for inviting us. 
 
I would like to put our efforts today into a context. Science has always been a source of American strength. Tim Ferris, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, our landlord, wrote a book about America and Science called The Science of Liberty. I remember his detailing that over 60% of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were practicing scientists. You are in good company. 

He also told the story of how James Madison and General Washington, two local boys, on a slow afternoon during the Revolutionary War, took a flatboat out into the swamps of Jersey, and were poling the bottom to determine how swamp gas was formed. That's the American Way. 
 
My friend Enrico Fermi said, “Experimental confirmation of a prediction is merely a measurement. An experiment disproving a prediction is a discovery.” 

So science is inherently messy. Scientists learn early that the best part is figuring out why you didn't get what you expected. 

Science fairs are a most important part of the science process. Learning is good, but professionals know nothing counts until you ship. A science fair is when you put up or shut up. Every presenter here today completed something important today. 

We probably won't know how important for years to come. I hope many of you will continue developing your understanding of these projects for years to come. 

Today we saw some great science and now we would like to tell you about it.
I would first like our judges to come to the podium and introduce themselves, and then we will call up the award winners from today's program. 

Dick Davies is Vice President, Junior Academy, for the Washington Academy of Sciences. Every year the Academy Judges Scholastic Science Fairs in the Washington DC, Northern Virginia, and suburban Maryland. If you are a member of the Washington Academy or our more than 60 affiliated societies, and would like to participate as a judge, please let me know. We need you! If you are an educator looking for professional scientists and technologists to judge your science fairs, we would be pleased to provide resources.  

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