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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

2013 Junior Academy Innovation Leadership Awards

Every Science Fair is different. 

Long term change is difficult, requiring focus, sustained effort, and hopefully building on previous years’ achievements.

The annual Paint Branch High School Science Expo changed half a decade ago. Their problem was, nobody cared. The major reason for their annual science fair was to check off the activity.

The faculty, administration, and student scientists took on a program to make the science fair valuable and memorable for more than the presenters.

They decided to emphasize performance as part of science.

They moved to evening, like an athletic event or school play to get more involvement and support from families and community.

They changed the rules to get more participation. “Everyone does science!”

They went beyond the same old experiments to new, experimenter designed projects. Some worked, some didn’t, just like real science.

And over the years, some that didn’t work in their first year became experiments that paid off, just like real science.

We have seen their annual event turned into a happy, noisy, crowded, excited performance, with original science, competitive events, custom designed and built equipment, matching team uniforms, on-site ice cream making, and this year, a new high school.

The Junior Academy provides Science Awards to the student scientists every year. This year we thought we should also make a special Innovation Leadership Award to the producers and directors of the 2013 Paint Branch High School Science Expo, Pam Leffler and Brian Eichenlaub.

These awards started as an insiders’ acknowledgment, to recognize two people who have held on to a vision since before anyone else could see it. What we saw this year was astounding. The purpose of this post is to show what good is.


Whereas for several years you have been developing a new model of entertaining science fair, and

Whereas, the numbers of enthusiastic student scientists has been rapidly rising every year, becoming triumphantly louder, and

Whereas you have extended the demonstrated practice of science to parents, siblings, team mates, and strangers, while mystifying judges, and

Whereas, said science projects span the breadth of scientific endeavour, from oobleck, to space exploration, to floating bowling balls, tie die, egg drops, rollie bugs, and ice cream,

Be it known that you are hereby awarded the 2013 Junior Academy Innovation Leaderships Awards.

Make Noise!