The annual Colorado Science and Engineering Fair (CSEF) is a platform for students from Colorado to present a scientific research project that they designed and conducted in school/homeschool. The goal is to nurture interest in science and technology, and foster professional skills, high ethical standards, diversity, and continuing intellectual development among the young generation. The participants are typically students in 6th-12th grade in a public, private, parochial, home, or online school. To qualify for presenting at CSEF, students must first present their work and get selected by the Science Fair of the region/county they belong (aka Regional Science Fairs).
The CSU Department of Chemistry sponsors two awards (of monetary value) every year for junior and senior division chemistry-focused projects at CSEF, and Professors Joseph Diverdi and Panduka Piyaratne serve as judges for choosing the best projects for those awards. Colorado ACS too sponsors several awards, and Professor Debbie Crans and her graduate students evaluate and choose student presentations for those awards. According to the CSEF website, each year, the CSEF hosts over 350 students from around the state, hands out about 350 individual awards to those students, sends approximately 25 students to the International Science & Engineering Fair, and nominates 24 projects for the Broadcom MASTERS competition.
Panduka believes CSEF truly is a very rewarding experience, especially for middle and high school students. He says, “I personally find it very fulfilling to listen to their presentations, see their approaches to solving a problem with the aid of the scientific method, learn how they developed and refined their thought processes, and perhaps most importantly, hear about the joy they had with the engagement in those activities.”

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