9th Annual City-wide Science Fair Dedicated to the Memory of Yale Professor Robert Apfel

The 9th Olin-Yale-Bayer Annual Science Fair, set for March 11 at Yale University’s Commons Dining Hall, corner of Grove and College streets, is dedicated to the memory of Robert Apfel, professor of mechanical engineering and former chair of the Yale Council of Engineering.

Apfel, a co-founder of the fair nine years ago, was an active member of the steering committee up until last August. The fair will feature 118 science projects by students from 40 New Haven public schools. The faculty of the Yale School of Engineering is a sponsor of this event and among this year’s mentors are engineering graduate students Sven Ude and Jaimee Don.

Exhibits are open for judging in the morning, followed by public viewing from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Yale Commons. The awards ceremony is set for Battell Chapel from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Olin-Yale-Bayer-New Haven Public Schools Science Fair Program started in 1993, with participation by seven schools, and has expanded to include nearly all schools in the public school system. About 1,000 students will compete in the fair, utilizing more than 160 volunteers for mentoring and judging. For the first time, four schools will send pre-K students with exhibits, further expanding the scope of the fair.

A new feature has been added for parents who attend awards night to get to and from Battell Chapel: electric trolleys. The Greater New Haven Transit District/Clean Cities and the city of New Haven are providing this service as part of its educational mission about how alternative fuel vehicles promote energy security and environmental quality, as well as to demonstrate a practical experiment.

Trolleys will provide transportation to and from Battell Chapel where Apfel’s former graduate student, Rene Williams, will speak about Apfel’s inspired mentoring and his vital role in the fair. Yale has donated the use of parking lot 51 on Temple St., so attendees will be able to take the trolley to the awards ceremony and back to the lot that night.

New Haven is home to New England’s first high-tech electric trolleys, secured with $1.2 million in federal funds. The trolleys circle State, Chapel and Elm streets, Broadway, and the Audubon Arts District from Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Funding for their operation comes from New Haven Savings Bank, United Illuminating Co. and a city partnership with Pro-Park.

The science fair’s goal is to work with children and teachers from kindergarten to 12th grade, helping them carry out investigative hands-on science projects in order to promote skills in critical thinking, the scientific process and communication. This approach is part of New Haven public schools’ science curriculum.

In 2001-2003, the New Haven Science Fair Mentor Program received the Presidential Award in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, the only K-12 program in the county to receive this prestigious award. Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program/Discovering the Powers of Math and Science (CPEP) is the educational non-profit agency that administers the program.

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