Local organizes open-enrollment science, tech fair

LEWISTOWN – Children growing up in today’s digital age use science and technology daily, but how does it work?

Brett Rogers, of Lewistown, said he wants to instill that curiosity in the youth of Mifflin County.

His desire to create a learning experience for local kids has inspired the Mifflin County Science and Technology fair – the first open-enrollment competition of its kind in the county’s recent history. The fair is set to begin with opening remarks and judging at 9 a.m. May 10 at Lewistown Rec Center. The public is invited to view projects from 1 to 3 p.m.

Rogers and his wife, Josie Xanthopoulos, have two sons, Vann and Jaxx. In a written introduction on the event’s Facebook group, Rogers said he organized the competition as a way to inspire his own children, as well as other local youth, to pursue greater understanding in the fields of science and technology.

The theme of the fair is, “How Things Work,” and students are encouraged to use scientific research to complete their projects. Participants are organized in two divisions; students in seventh through ninth grade and students in fourth through sixth grade. Youth may compete individually or in groups of up to four members.

Participants will compete in each division for a top prize of $200, Rogers said. Second prize is $100, and third prize is $50. Honorable mentions may also be awarded. Students will be judged by local professionals or former local students who have pursued professions in science- or technology-related industries. Participants will be judged on their ability to speak about and present their project.

“There are currently 25 youth and 18 projects registered for the event,” Rogers said.

The official registration deadline was in March, but registrations will be accepted through April.

“There is more than enough room for more participants,” he said.

Rogers said he worked together with his wife to organize the inaugural event and received assistance and advice from Jim Tunall and Jenny Barron Landis at the Juniata Valley Chamber of Commerce. Next year, he looks forward to turning over organizational responsibilities to a committee that will coordinate the event, he said.

In addition to participants, the science and technology fair is in need of more volunteers and sponsors.

Rogers said he is seeking volunteers for setup, take down, counting visitors, guiding visitors and serving lunch to students. Setup is slated for May 9 and the event will be held May 10.

Corporate and private sponsors also are needed to ensure the success of the event, he said. Financial sponsorship and donations of services are necessary to cover event expenses, prize money and initial expenses for next year’s competition.

There are four levels of sponsorship available: Friend of the event, $50; silver, $100; gold, $200; and platinum, $300. Based on their level of sponsorship, donors will receive recognition in printed materials and other publicity associated with the event, a table at the event, recognition during the awards ceremony and the opportunity to view projects prior to the award ceremony.

For registration forms, a sponsorship packet or to volunteer, call Brett Rogers at 513-3490 or email brettrogers1996@yahoo.com. Interested individuals may also find information online by searching Mifflin County Science & Technology Fair on Facebook.