Flint’s first major science fair was the brainchild of Richard M. Harbeck, a science teacher at Flint Technical High School. The first fair, known then as the Flint Area Science Fair, was held in the Ballenger Field House over April 6-8th, 1957, with Mr. Harbeck as the first Fair Director.
The event was widely publicized and attracted more than 5,000 visitors! Dr. Wernher von Braun, one of the fathers of modern rocketry and a leading figure of the U.S. space program, was the special guest and keynote speaker at the first fair.
That first fair had only Junior and Senior divisions. One of the participants, a 7th grader named David Hill, is currently a Flint Science Fair, Inc. board member (he signs your award checks). He continued each year and went on to earn awards at the International fair.
In just a few years, the Flint fair was attracting as many as 1,400 student entries a year. The Elementary Division was added. Over the past few years, participation has extended beyond the Flint community to surrounding counties, prompting the name change to the Flint Regional Science Fair. Most recently, recognizing the many engineering projects entered each year, the name has again changed to the Flint Regional Science & Engineering Fair.
From the start, our fair affiliated with others so that our winners could compete for further prizes and recognition. Then, it was the National Science Fair. In 1958, Flint hosted the very first National Science Fair – International, with students from Canada, Germany, and Japan attending. Today our students aim for the International Science & Engineering Fair, as well as Broadcom MASTERS. We have also worked with our state fair over the years.
Today, our fair continues to grow, with new outreach to area schools, additional invitations to more out-county areas, and an all-new look our organizational and promotional materials, and we’re looking forward to many more years of exciting student-driven events.