“Why I Hate Science Fair” speech by Jay Chandar

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The 62nd annual State Science and Engineering Fair of Florida STEM Competition, concluded Thursday, March 30th 2017 with the Awards Ceremony in Lakeland .Florida. Jay S. Chandar, Canterbury School, was selected as Senior Division Best of Fair – Grand Award Winner (Ying Scholar) and a First Place Category Award in Cellular/Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. This year marks the seventh and final year Jay has competed at the state event. Jay was also selected to be a JASON Colloquium Speaker (one of seven honorees) and addressed attendees as the final speaker at the opening ceremonies of the state science fair (link to speech is https://www.pscp.tv/w/1djGXvRdEOyxZ?t=9).

JASON Colloquium Speech Transcript (March 28, 2017)

Hello, Everybody. My name is Jay Chandar. I am here to tell you Why I Hate Science Fair. Now, let me just preface this by saying I don’t really hate science fair. I hate the way the students have come to approach it.

Science Fair has always been a huge part of my life. Ever since my first trip to states in the sixth grade, I became addicted. However, it was for the wrong reason. For the first few years, I valued a shiny trophy more than gaining valuable experiences in science. This same competition-based mentality is what has caused me to now hate science fair.

However, everything changed for me as I got older and became involved in more professional research, my perspective on science fair completely changed. I realized that the true purpose of the science fair is to provide students like us, a path to express our senses of innovation and creativity, to have an impact on our respective fields. I was finally able to appreciate the science in science fair. Being able to do research and see the work being done by my fellow peers has been an invaluable part of my life. So, while there are things about the science fair that I certainly dislike, I truly believe that it is a platform that can provide endless opportunities for any student with an interest in science, mathematics, or engineering. It certainly has for me.

This is my 7th year at states. So, as I look out at all of the students here, I know exactly what you all will feel and experience throughout the coming few days. The pressure of judging, the stress of the awards ceremony. Everything is all too familiar to me. However, standing here today, the most memorable parts of my time doing science fair are not the awards I have won, but the people I’ve met and the things I have learned.

So, I want to leave you guys with what I consider is necessary advice to make science fair a truly special experience. I know what I am about to say is something extremely cliché that everyone has probably heard from their parents or teachers, but I hope that hearing it from a fellow student will help you to truly understand it. It’s not about winning, it’s about having fun. Do not worry about competing. Do not worry about awards. The science fair was made to allow bright young minds to develop and express their ideas with professionals and their fellow peers. I implore you all to forget that this is a competition and focus on growing your passion for science. This is an amazing opportunity, and you have all worked so hard to earn it.

You all were chosen to be here because of the amazing work you have done in science. Whether you are curing a disease, developing a way to increase sustainability, or creating a life-changing invention, I sincerely believe that every single person in this room has the power to have a serious impact on science and the world. And I hope that you all do, one science fair project at a time.

Authored by Jay Chandar, 4-time Intel ISEF Finalist, 7-time Thomas Alva Edison Kiwanis RSEF & SSEF of Florida Finalist

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