Co-founded in February 1958 by Dr. Edgar Franz and Dr. John Brodmann, the science fair is welcoming some 70 competitors again this year. Franz was a C-SC professor of mathematics who has since retired and Brodmann, although retired from Culver-Stockton, serves as professor emeritus and works from his C-SC office in the Science Center three days a week, tutoring chemistry students for free. “We began the science fair for two reasons that year,” recalls Brodmann. “The first reason was to give young people from the tri-state area an opportunity to exhibit their personal talents in the sciences. And I can’t lie; that wasn’t the only reason. We wanted to introduce high school students to Culver-Stockton and the science program here as a form of recruitment. We wanted these kids to come be our students!”
Through the first years, the Quincy Industrial Association (QIA) provided financial help to the fair. Also, each year, a business that was in QIA would create “Honorable Mention” plaques, which ranged from blocks of wood with words etched metal attached, to steel-engraved blocks. Today, the college is the sole financial support for the fair.
True to science fair stereotype, Brodmann proclaims he has “judged more volcanoes than any other person in the universe.” Although volcanoes may be a typical science fair project, Brodmann has come across many others that have astounded him in more ways than one. “One year, I was doing my job as director and out of nowhere I began to here screeching and screaming from across the room. One entrant’s exhibit got loose. He had hamsters crawling all over the room!” explained Brodmann.
Brodmann’s one regret over the years is that he “wishes he could’ve seen them all.” As director of the fair, he was more concerned with running the fair properly rather than judging exhibits or visiting with contestants.
Eventually, Franz left Culver to continue his teaching career at Illinois University in Jacksonville, Ill., leaving Brodmann to direct the fair himself. After Brodmann retired, he left the fair for another faculty member to direct.
“Here is where things get interesting,” says Brodmann. “The first fair was 51 years ago, so why are we celebrating the 50 this year?” Somewhere between Brodmann retiring and Mike Jones, a current Culver-Stockton professor of biology, taking over as director 10 years ago in 1998, “there was a glitch in the planning that caused the fair to be canceled that year.”
Nothing like that is happening this year. With a new director taking over for Jones who is about to retire after serving for a decade, the fair has passed on to Dr. Indiren Pillay, Culver’s associate professor of biology and chairperson of the Natural and Mathematical Science Division.
The fair, which is open to junior and senior high students from the tri-state area of Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa, had 122 projects in 2007, representing young scientists from Canton RV, Palmyra, Highland, Mark Twain, Hamilton, La Plata, Southeastern (IL), and Central Lee (IA). Categories include projects in behavioral science, botany, chemistry, environmental science, medicine and health, physical science, zoology, and many others.
“Culver serves as the host for this event, and coordinates the judging and awards,” Pillay said. “Many of our judges are Culver-Stockton science students and faculty volunteers who dedicate their time to doing a great job.”
The fair kicks off at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 23, in the C-SC Science Center. Judging begins at 9:00 and goes until 11:00 a.m. From 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., the fair is open to the public to view the entrants’ exhibits. At 3:00 p.m., the awards ceremony will take place in Merillat Chapel and Recital Hall, located in the Robert W. Brown Performing Arts Center at Culver-Stockton College.
For more information, contact Pillay at 573-288-6563 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To register, contact Carolyn Phillips, science fair registrar at email@example.com.
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