Bette McFarren

Brainy kids from all over the Arkansas Valley were streaming into Otero Junior College on Thursday evening. They set up their projects for judges to evaluate without their presence. The exhibit room was open until 10 p.m. and all day Friday for this preliminary judging. On Friday, the judges paired up again for oral interviews with the students at their exhibits.

This year's fair features kindergarten through 12th grade students from Otero, Bent, Crowley, Las Animas and Huerfano Counties. It was held in the OJC Student Center on Feb. 20, 21 and 22. The manager of the fair is Wayne Beadles, Otero Junior College math teacher. The judges, from all over the valley, have backgrounds in science or the scientific method.

For many students, the science fair is the highlight of the school year. They work hard, and many accomplish the real goal of the science fair: they learn to think objectively, to consider the options and to be accurate reporters of what they have observed. It is also a chance to work closely with a parent, a teacher, other mentors, and peers, in the case of a group project. Discoveries are made. Parents and teachers are proud. During the interviews, the students learn grace under pressure.