By Darrin Francom, Director, Operations, Power & Engineering
CAP Staff Judges This year’s Arizona Science and Engineering Fair
Each year, Arizona students compete in the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair (AzSEF), which has long been supported by CAP. The AzSEF mission is to “support and provide guidance to students and teachers throughout Arizona to ensure the continued availability and vitality of this statewide celebration of scientific inquiry for the citizens of Arizona.” AzSEF’s focus on supporting science, technology, engineering and math resonated with myself and a group of CAP employees from the Operations, Maintenance and Engineering teams – so much so that we signed up to judge the Elementary and Junior Divisions.
Judging these divisions increased the probability that we would have the technical background to understand the science projects from these gifted Arizona students – but there was no guarantees!
The student’s science projects were placed into categories such as Animal Sciences, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Physics and Astronomy, and Plant Science. Our CAP team of judges was divided across these categories and we were tasked with scoring each project in terms of creativity, presentation and execution.
With the other eight judges in my category, the Environmental Sciences Junior Division, we reviewed the 24 project submissions. I was responsible for judging 12 projects and interviewing the respective student(s). I found the 10-minute interviews to be the best part of the day. The students were well spoken, intelligent and excited about what they had learned and discovered. One of the projects I found most fascinating was a girl who’d analyzed different types of ground cover (sand, mulch, gravel and rock) and their ability to help decrease soil moisture loss due to evaporation. She found that a layer of sand was the best at keeping the soil moist with the potential impact to help us better water our plants and agriculture and, most importantly, to save water.
As we left the event, Jeff Russeau, one of our CAP judges, captured the feeling of our group in one word – “motivating.” We had all engaged with a very impressive group of students and their drive, focus and knowledge was simply motivating. These students and their projects were a celebration of scientific inquiry and will become our future boundless scientists, doctors and leaders.
This was an uplifting experience for me and I was happy to enjoy this volunteer time with my fellow CAP employees. This group, and CAP in general, was happy to donate our time in support of this worthy cause, as we ultimately were rewarded with a great experience and exposure to the talents Arizona’s youth has to offer us. Thank you to Tom McCann, Trang Duong, Jeff Russeau, Phil Rettinger, Jason Dishmon, Scott Bryan and Jeff Ritter for helping make this a successful day for CAP and the AzSEF – count on us to volunteer again next year!