Results of First-ever “Virtual Science Fair” Online Thursday Night
After the annual Flint Regional Science & Engineering Fair (FRSEF) fell victim to the Covid-19
situation, the Fair Board was challenged to find a way to recognize and reward the months of work
done by students across Mid-Michigan. This was especially true for the Senior Division, whose top
winners gain all-expense-paid trips to the prestigious International Science & Engineering Fair.
“We had nearly 400 students from nine counties just days away from the competition. There had to
be a way to not waste those kids’ hundreds of hours of research and experimentation and
work,” said Mike Mosher, FRSEF Board president. “We thought of ‘bringing the fair to them’ by
sending judges to the individual schools, but then the state-wide school closings stopped that idea.”
The ultimate answer? A “virtual fair” that could allow remote judging of competitors’ projects – all
digitized and uploaded to the FRSEF website. Students’ project reports, data points, photographs,
notes, and other relevant materials were collected and uploaded by the students. These files were
then downloaded and reviewed by the judges – most of whom were set to judge the original Fair.
This first virtual fair included only the Senior Division, because of the time constraints of
naming winners for ISEF. Plus, the senior high students constitute the smallest division, which
made them an easier test of the technology. A similar virtual program is now in the works for
the Junior Division. Instructions for that program will be emailed to all of the Junior Division
Beyond the Senior Division judging for overall prizes, Special Awards were also judged by
representatives of various local, regional, and national organizations. Special Awards recognition
can include everything from gift packages to certificates to admission to summer camps to college
The results for all the judging are in, and the Flint Regional Science & Engineering Fair Senior
Division Virtual Fair Awards will be broadcast live this Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. on a
YouTube live stream.
Senior Division Coordinator Jordan Krell expressed enthusiasm for the results of this experiment.
“In many ways, I think this virtual judging gives us a much deeper dive into the projects; a much
more thorough review of the science itself.” Judging Coordinator John Munsell offered another
advantage: “Being virtual meant we were able to attract highly-qualified judges from out of state –
ones who would typically be unable to attend the Fair.”
The one regret? “The in-person interview process was not possible, and that’s an important
aspect of the judging process. And it’s something that’s important for the students to be subjected
to – a very good learning experience that serves them throughout their lives.”
The awards program will be available on demand on YouTube after the live show. Additionally, a
“virtual public viewing” is possible by visiting the FRSEF website (www.flintsciencefair.org)
and clicking on the News section. PDFs of each Senior Division winning project display board and
abstract will be shown.
The Flint Regional Science & Engineering Fair (FRSEF) is administered by Flint Science Fair, Inc,,
a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Our mission states: “The FRSEF partners with the greater
community of Mid-Michigan to foster student potential by: hosting an annual regional science and
engineering fair; offering educational experiences; extending opportunities for rewards, recognition,
and additional competitions; and providing outreach services to students and all who support