Bryant’s 5th Grade Science Fair features small teams of students working with 1-2 scientist mentors from diverse departments at the University of Washington. These undergraduate, postgraduate, and faculty mentors provide insight into their own career paths, as well as leadership, enthusiasm, and expertise as they guide students through unique scientific investigations over 5 weeks. Together they formulate a hypothesis, develop experiments, analyze results, and communicate conclusions.
Promotional information is distributed to University of Washington faculty advisors in the fall to encourage mentor recruitment. Historically, we collaborate with approximately 20 Science Fair Mentors annually representing over ten different University of Washington departments.
After a January orientation by Bryant’s 5th grade teachers, each science mentor meets virtually Friday afternoons with 4-5 Bryant students, guiding them through objectives designated in their science journals and establishing expectations for the week.
In 2021-22, the science fair was re-designed to support a fully virtual partnership. In the classroom, students used personal computers in small Microsoft Teams sessions to interact with their mentors. Each student received a bin containing the materials required to conduct their investigation at home.
The 2021-2022 mentor breakdown by University of Washington department:
• 4 Oceanography & Marine Biology
• 3 Microbiology
• 1 Environmental Engineering
• 1 Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
• 4 Public Health (Genetics/Global Health)
• 3 Chemistry
• 1 Neuroscience/Psychology
• 1 Epidemiology
• 1 Immunology
• 1 School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
• 3 School of Marine and Environmental Affairs (SMEA)
• 1 Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB)
By academic rank/training:
• 1 affiliate professor
• 5 Ph.D. students
• 9 graduate students
• 9 undergraduate students.
The group included one returning mentor from the 2020 Science Fair program; the Bryant Science Fair was not held in 2021 due to COVID.