The fourth annual Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair (EWRSEF) will be held on March 18, 2020. Once again, the WSU-Health Sciences campus will be hosting the event. This event transcends the briefness of a single-day event because of its importance to the long-term future of the region and its students, businesses and community.
The EWRSEF is a 501(c)3 made up of 100% volunteers who work throughout the year for one purpose. To provide an opportunity for entrance into world-class STEM education for all grade 6-12 students from Spokane, Lincoln, Whitman, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. Thanks to Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman, over the last three years we have been able to send 11 winning students to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Eight of those 11 winners have been female. Students have come from Lewis and Clark, Ferris, North Central, Mead, Central Valley, Wilbur and Odessa. The largest and most prestigious pre-college science fair in the world, ISEF brings together 1,800 high school students from 80 countries and regions. There are millions of dollars of scholarships and cash that can be won at ISEF. For high school students from eastern Washington, there is simply no greater opportunity in their STEM education and future.
Working with judges, STEM professional mentors for students, volunteers and infrastructure support from the region, the fair continues to grow in both quantity and quality of projects. With efforts on inclusion and diversity, there are equal numbers of females as there are males who participate. In addition, more and more students, teachers and schools are participating from rural, poorly supported, counties and school districts within NEWESD101 and outside of Spokane County.
EWRSEF is the fifth regional feeder fair into the only Society for Science and the Public sponsored Washington State Fair that exists. The Washington State Science and Engineering Fair (WSSEF) awards over 1.5 million dollars in scholarships and other awards each year to the 600-700 WA students who attend at the end of March. Every EWRSEF student who competes in Spokane, whether or not they win anything in Spokane, are eligible to compete at the state championship and win awards if they are able to find a way over to the west side of the state.
While this is all well and good, EWRSEF cannot continue without support from the local business community. And without the support, thousands of students will be denied the opportunity to further their STEM education which would greatly impact the businesses and community of Spokane and the entire region. STEM education and support for the Eastern Washington Regional Science and Engineering Fair is not an expense. It is an investment, in the students, businesses and region and all their futures.