The Special Awards Program is an integral part of the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston (SEFH) that allows organizations, businesses, and individuals to support STEM education by rewarding and interacting with SEFH participants in specialized areas of interest to the sponsoring organization, business, or individual.
Special Awards supplement the Place Awards program by allowing more participation of professionals, scientists, and engineers and by rewarding more students for their outstanding STEM endeavors. Awards may include cash, savings bonds, memberships, subscriptions scientific equipment, computers, internships, etc.
SEFH, which stresses inquiry-based STEM education, is the culmination of STEM fair participation starting in the individual schools and home schools, moving through District/School Science Fairs, and on to SEFH. Outstanding middle and high school students from SEFH are then sponsored to compete at the Texas State Science and Engineering Fair, and the International Science & Engineering Fair.
The goal of the Special Awards Program, in addition to rewarding students for great work in expanding their interests in STEM, is to provide peer interaction with professionals, scientists, and engineers, to peak student interest in STEM fields in which they may not have been aware of and to provide a bridge to further interaction between STEM professional and students.
Participation in the Special Awards Program is determined by the individual professional organization, business, or individual and is coordinated through SEFH. The Special Awards Program is a simple process. Once the organization has decided to participate, they provide an award(s), identify judges to interview the students, and present the award(s) at the Awards Ceremony.
The advantages of sponsoring organizations are many:
- to support science education in the Houston Region;
- to support individual STEM students in their STEM endeavors;
- to interact with the top STEM students in the city and region on a peer-to-peer level;
- to offer advice and help students within their STEM areas of expertise;
- to invite students to further explore the organization’s area of STEM; and
- to invite the winning students to an organizational event.
Through your participation in the Special Awards Program, we can assure you that you will be awed by the science and engineering that these students are producing and will be encouraged to know that quality STEM education is alive and well in the country.
Each year more than 50 professional organizations, representing government, industry, and education across a wide variety of scientific disciplines, affiliate with SEFH as Special Award Sponsors to provide awards from their respective organizations to the nearly 1000 students attending SEFH.
Special Award Agency (SAA) recruits its own judges to choose the winners of their awards. Please note that a judge cannot serve as both a special award judge and a grand award judge.
We recommend that each Special Award Organization provide a minimum of 3 judges, although the number of judges per organization varies with the scope of the awards to be given and the number of Finalists to be interviewed. Coordinators of Special Awards should keep in mind that judging at SEFH takes place over a relatively short period and a sufficient number of judges will make selecting winners a less arduous task.
Special Award Judges receive criteria and coordination instruction through the organization they are representing and its designated judging team leader. This team leader is responsible for establishing the final assignments of their judges.
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The fair and awards ceremony will take place on the same day – Judging in the afternoon followed by the awards ceremony in the evening.