By Staff Sgt. Julio Nieves, 326th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentMarch 31, 2013
READING, Pa. -- The 326th MPAD presents awards at the 61st Reading Berks Science and Engineering Fair hosted by Albright College here, March 12, 2013.
To say that 61 consecutive years conducting a regional science fair is a long time is an understatement, yet Reading Berks Science and Engineering Fair Inc. organizers, sponsors and volunteers stay present once again.
"This is the 7th year that I'm invited to judge in this science fair on behalf of the Army," said Jeffrey Dietrich the 326th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment unit administrator. "Every year the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy support this event by providing certificates, medals and backpacks."
"This year we have over $10,000 in cash prizes and numerous awards," said Michael Gerhart, the Fair Director of Reading Berks Science and Engineering Fair Inc. and retired Wilson School District Science Educator.
"This is a great opportunity for students in Berks County," said Dietrich. "The Grand Champion and Champion will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Ariz. Later on this year," he added.
The winners for Medical and Health was Stephanie Keller from Conrad Weiser High School; for Chemistry was Chloe Farmer from Governor Mifflin High School; for Botony was Isabelle Stull from Tulpehocken High School; for Physics was Chloe Stump from Wilson High School; and for Math and Computers was Dylan Thomas from Wyomissing High School.
"I was very impressed," said Dietrich. Referring to perhaps the biggest award of the fair that is presented by Harrisburg University of Science and Technology who offered a one year full tuition scholarship for showing strong interest in science as exhibited by involvement in the Reading Berks Science and Engineer Fair.
"This goes to show that the Fair's Best project is not necessarily the top winner of the fair," said Dietrich. "Receiving a full one-year full-ride scholarship valued at more than $23,000 alleviates some of the financial hardships that parents and students bear upon entering college," he explained.
"Over 400 students are participating this year," said Gerhart. "This is great! There was a time when the amount of participants was declining and it seemed as if students were no longer interested in science," he added.
"It's difficult to interest young people in Science and Engineering when role models are few and far in between," said Dr. Roger Minear, a retired electrical engineer and one of the many Judges of the fair representing AT&T Bell Laboratories. "The truth is that most of the people in this field make a lot more money elsewhere rather then teaching, so finding a mentor is a difficult task," he added.
"Over 1500 students from over 50 countries will participate at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair," said Gerhart. "It's through the Berks Reading Science Fair that we are able to represent our County at the highest level possible during the International fair."
"At the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, you can find representatives from major companies, universities, research centers, NASA and our Armed Forces looking for the brightest of our young men and women to recruit and offer a life time opportunities," said Gerhart.
"Not to long ago, one of our winners who competed at the Intel International fair didn't win 1st place, but did receive a full ride at the U.S. Naval Academy for his outstanding Engineering skills," said Gerhart. "So it goes to show, that the potential is endless with these types of events."