Science Fairs and the “A-Ha” Moment

MASTERS finalists puzzling through a STEM challenge.

Watching kids discover the fun side of science and engineering can be a fascinating experience, even if they’re just tinkering with soap bubbles, stain removers, bottle rockets or even a bag of Skittles. Through my work with Broadcom Foundation, I have witnessed a transformation in young people when they experience a science fair, a spark that highlights their gained confidence and aptitude in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math.

Through hands-on STEM learning, millions of kids  have the ability to change the world by understanding how to turn the ideas in their imaginations into something real. And yet, more than 60 percent of middle-school students in the U.S. today say they would rather take out the trash than do math homework, according to Raytheon’s Middle School Students Math Habits Study.

Broadcom Foundation is trying to show kids the fun and exciting side of STEM education. Along with the Society of Science & the Public, the Foundation hosts 30 middle school students in Washington, D.C., for a unique science fair competition called Broadcom MASTERS®.  The finalists, selected from thousands of kids nationwide, will be challenged by  projects that require hands-on learning, but also prepare them to work as a team, which is so important for future careers in STEM fields.

Through their science fair projects, students explore personal interests through the art of experimentation, developing critical thinking skills and evaluating variable solutions to a hypothetical scientific inquiry or engineering project – just as scientists and engineers do in the real world every day.

But it’s more than just science and engineering that makes competitions like the Broadcom MASTERS so successful. It’s also the involvement of adults in students’ lives – the parents, teachers, judges and volunteer mentors who help young people understand the power of STEM education at an all-important critical developmental stage.

The adults cheer students on when they first experience the thrill of creating and executing personal projects. They’re also there when students first encounter those “a-ha” moments, when they realize that by sticking with those math and science courses, they can turn their passions into future careers.

MASTERS finalists experimenting as a team.

Broadcom Foundation is thanking the teachers with a cash gift for the school of each finalist. But it’s also saluting all adults who helped these exemplary kids get to Washington, D.C., for the final round of MASTERS. It’s through their support that we’re all rebuilding the ranks of much-needed engineers and scientists who will help the U.S. regain its competitive edge in a global, technology-based economy.

Through the power of the Broadcom MASTERS, each of these students provides a fresh glimmer of hope that America – and the world – will continue to thrive for generations to come.

Learn more about this year’s Broadcom MASTERS competition, culminating with the Oct. 2 announcement of the winners, by following SSP and Broadcom on Twitter or visiting the Broadcom MASTERS Facebook page.


The MASTERS app has arrived! Teachers and their classes can follow along on the go with our new, free app for iTunes and Android.