When Forsythe Middle School science teacher Dan Ezekiel meets scientists who learn he is the staff contact person for what is believed to be the largest single school science fair in the state, their eyes inevitably light up.
“And they start telling me about their science fair projects, all those years ago,” says Ezekiel, curriculum chairman of the school’s science program.
Forsythe’s annual science fair will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 8 at the school, 1655 Newport Road. Awards will be announced at 2 p.m.
The fair is also open to the public during the school day on Monday, Feb. 9 until 2:30 p.m.
All students in all three grades at Forsythe are required to do a science fair project. These students gain experience in the actual skills and practices of scientists when they participate in the fair, said Ezekiel.
“In the real world, scientists don’t take quizzes and do worksheets,” he said. “They research, do experiments, and share what they learn with the larger community. I like to say no one ever fell in love with science because of a quiz they took.”
Showing their work raises the ante for the students, since they know their work will be read carefully and judged by scientists from the community, Ezekiel said, adding that students also get to see their classmates’ work and show off theirs in a quality setting.
Many of the students have gone on to win cash awards in the Southeastern Michigan Science Fair, which is held in March. Forsythe Middle School, in fact, routinely dominates the awards in the junior division of the SE Michigan Science Fair.
The Forsythe Science Fair was started about 35 years old by parents to showcase student work, and is produced and chaired by a parent committee of the Forsythe PTSO, which depends on about 100 parent volunteers.
More than 75 local scientists judge the exhibits, which cover a wide range of topics.
Ezekiel says the fair represents a model for a “community celebration of learning,” in that students, teachers, parents, and community scientists all work to support and showcase student learning.
The school welcomes students, their parents, grandparents, and siblings to the science fair, as well as any interested community members. Especially encouraged to attend the fair are elementary school children who will eventually attend Forsythe.
“Feeder school students might enjoy coming and seeing the quality of work their older peers are doing and which they will be doing in a few years,” said Ezekiel.