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Science Fairs | Supporting local, state and international science and engineering fairs

SPIE supports local, state and international science and engineering fairs by providing several Special Awards in Optics and Photonics. Volunteer judges review projects displayed at science fairs and select best projects where students apply optics or photonics related technology to their project.

The Society has awarded over $165,000 in cash awards since 2006 to 789 talented students from elementary through high school.

SPIE volunteers are welcome to judge optics or photonics related projects at science fairs. If you know of a science fair coming up in your area that we should be a part of, contact Ms. Pascale Barnett, Education Services Coordinator, pascale@spie.org.

In 2016 SPIE awarded cash prizes totaling over $17,000 to 88 talented students from elementary through high school.

Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

Phoenix, Arizona (8-13 May 2016)

SPIE Member Volunteers:Bill Arnold, George Che, Shahab Chitchian, Mario Pacheco


Cheng-Pei Lin (First Place), Taipei First Girls High School (Taiwan)
Project: UV-Light Sensitive Transparent Organic Solar Cells

Fabiane Kuhn and Guilherme de Oliveria Ramos (Second Place), Fundacao Escola Tecnica Liberato Salzano Vieira da Cunha (Brazil)
Team Project: Time-Domain Reflectometry Applied to Irrigation Control


Jeremiah Pate (Third Place), BASIS Oro Valley (USA)
Project: Security at the Speed of Light: Countering Cyberattacks via Novel On-Chip Photonic Protocols


Ilke Adalioglu and Cemil Gorkem Tamer (Fourth Place), Takev Science High School (Turkey)
Team Project: Characterization of Blue Fluorescent OLED and Seven Segment Display Application


California State Science Fair

Los Angeles, California (24 May 2016)

SPIE Volunteer Judges: Pamela Blake, Chris Griffo, Yuji Naito

Jennifer Phan (First Place), Desert Junior High School
Project: >Shedding Light on Proteins: The Effect of Scattered Light on Protease Activity


Jennifer Choi (Second Place), Oxford Academy
Project: Entangling Time Bin Qvbits Using an Optical Switch


Spencer Cheleden (Third Place), Pacific Collegiate School
Project: Evaluation of Silver Based Astronomical Telescope Coatings


Anusha Ghosh (Fourth Place), Challenger School
Project: A Device to Detect Diabetic Retinopathy


Cassandra Man (Fifth Place), Woodbridge High School
Project: The Effect of Visible Light Irradiation on Photocatalyst-mediated Decolorization of Crystal Violet in Wastewater


Orange County Science and Engineering Fair

Costa Mesa, California (13 April 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Pamela Blake, Michael Papac


Helen Kang and Jenny Li (First Place), University High School
Team Project: A Java-based Algorithmic Model of Indoor Lighting System for Energy Conservation


Cassandra Man (Second Place), Woodbridge High School
Project: The Effect of Visible Light Irradiation on Photocatalyst-mediated Decolorization of Crystal Violet in Wastewater


Jennifer Choi (Third Place)


61st Annual Colorado Science and Engineering Fair

Fort Collins, Colorado (7 April 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Frank Melsheimer, Akihiro Mochizuki, Lorraine Tighe, Jesse Wilson

Senior Division:


Jaden Hoechstetter (First Place), Fairview High School
Project: Modulation of Laser Beam using a Digital Micromirror Device


Matthew Hilleman (Second Place)


Matthew Radzihovsky (Third Place), Boulder High School
Project: Buffer Gas Cooling in Molecular Spectrscopy


Junior Division:

William Dienstfrey (First Place), Summit Middle School
Project: Optical Illusions: Contrast Induced Asynchrony


Camille Holland (Second Place), Mancos Middle School
Project: Laser Jell-O Reflection/Refraction


Tarra Miller (Third Place), Genoa-Hugo School
Project: Does Different Eye Colors Affect the Way Someone Sees in the Dim Light


Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (5 April 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judge: Garry Brown


Caleb Wong (First Place), Oakville Christian School
Project: Operation Stealth: How an Object's Shape and Material Evade Detection by Light Waves


Kiara Theron (Second Place), Oakville Christian School
Team Project: Spectacular Spectrometers


Minnesota State Science and Engineering Fair

Minneapolis, Minnesota (4 April 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Hari Atkuri, Kaspar Ko, Austin Van Sickle

Senior Division:

Justin Franz (First Place), Cotter High School
Project: A Refined Process for the Synthesis and Examination of the Photoelectrical Properties of Nanoparticles


Ben Chrepta (Second Place), Mayo High School
Project: A Novel Automated Image Processing Algorithm for Crop Health Assessment


Trentin Russell (Third Place), Cloquet Senior High
Project: StratoMonitor: Developing an Android App to Detect Cosmic Rays using an Image Sensor


Junior Division:

Stephen Wu (First Place), Friedell Middle School
Project: Solar Desalination: Designing the most efficient solar desalinator

Angelina Dodge (Second Place), Holy Rosary School
Project:How much Ultraviolet Light is Needed to Fully Kill all Bacteria?

Rikhil Seshadri (Third Place), Math and Science Academy
Project: Suitable Light Sources for In-Home Photoelectric Generation


North Carolina Science and Engineering Fair

Raleigh, North Carolina (2 April 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Russell Philbrick, Herman Towles

Senior Division:

Ashley Yang (First Place), NC School of Science & Mathematics
Project: Use of a Gallium Nitride Array to Increase Photoexcitation in a Molybdenum Disulfide Device


Kevin Jin (Second Place), William Amos Hough High School
Project: Modeling a Nano-scaled Multilayer to Optimize Solar Panel Efficiency

MaKenze Craver (Third Place), Dalton McMichael High School
Project: Thrifty as Efficient as Professional


Junior Division:

Ana Ratanaphruks (First Place), Sterling Montessori Academy
Project:Grading Olive Oil Using a Low-Cost Laser Induced Fluorescence Spectrometer


Jake Bleck (Second Place), Morehead Middle School
Project:Infrared Car Detector 2


Alexia Cash (Third Place), Southlake Christian Academy
Project:Lighten Up


Washington State Science and Engineering Fair

Bremerton, Washington (2 April 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Utku Baran, Alan Stewart


Eshika Saxena (First Place), Interlake High School
Project: A Portable Optoelectronic Molecular Identification System for Non-Invasive Medical Screening and Food Quality Assessment using Machine Learning


Gurleen Gill, Kanae Lancaster and Gabrielle McDaniel (Second Place), Tesla STEM High School
Team Project:Bio-Photovoltaic Solar Panels from Micro Photosynthetic Power Cells Using Blue-Green Algae


Annika Dawley (Third Place), Holy Family School
Project: Total Solar Meltdown


Alabama Science and Engineering Fair

Huntsville, Alabama (1 April 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Tommy Cantey, H. Philip Stahl

Senior Division:

Adam He (First Place), Alabama School of Fine Arts
Project: Investigation of the Orbital Stability of Circumbinary Planets in the Habitable Zone of the Double-Star System Kepler-16


Rohan Badve (Second Place), W.P. Davidson High School
Project: Natural Oils Protect Human Skin Cells Against Harmful UVB Radiation: Effective as Sunscreen Agent


Connor Reed (Third Place), St. John Paul II Catholic HS
Project: Ultrasonic Levitation


Junior Division:

Jordan Reynolds Gleason (First Place), Grace Lutheran School
Project: Can a Graphene Capacitor be 3D Printed with Higher Surface Area in Order to Increase Energy Storage Capacity?


Jacob Spence and Zachary Tribble (Second Place), East Limestone Middle School
Team Project: Keepin’ it Cool


Ella Michael (Third Place), Huntsville Junior High School
Project: Radiant Absorbency of Different Colors and Materials


12th Annual Science and Engineering Expo

Cincinnati, Ohio (19 March 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Robert Trusty

Adval Shivakumar (First Place), Nagel Middle School
Project: Absorption and Emission by Different Colors

Conor Bohrer (Second Place), All Saints School
Project: LED Brightness and how it Varies with Current

Suvan Adhikari (Third Place), Walnut Hills High School
Project: Which Light Bulb Is Most Efficient?


Badger State Science and Engineering Fair

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (19 March 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Mehdi Azimipour, Hao Jiang

Arundhati Pillai (First Place), University School of Milwaukee
Project: Next Generation Surgical Tool using Three-Dimensional (3-D) Printing for Cerebral Aneurysm Treatment


Daniel Glazer (Second Place), University School of Milwaukee
Project: Galaxy Clusters: Filling in the Gaps with New Discoveries


Alexander Diebold (Third Place), Evansville High School
Project: Classification of Cosmic-Ray Pariticles using a Machine Learning Program


Chicago Public Schools Student Science Fair

Chicago, Illinois (18 March 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judge: George Magerl, Optical Society of Chicago


Kaitlyn Mullins (First Place), Kellogg School
Project: Which Wavelength Will Charge a Mobile Phone


Andrea Martinez (Second Place), Franklin School
Project: The Effect of Temperature on Solar Panels


Joseph Palomares (Third Place), Amundsen High School
Project: Effect of Ultraviolet Light on E.coli K12


Northeastern Ohio Science and Engineering Fair

Cleveland, Ohio (15 March 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Marc Chappo, Anthony Roberts, Qi-Huo Wei


Carter Zimmerman (First Place), St. Ambrose Middle School
Project: Laser Strikes


Lauren Clar (Second Place), Beachwood Middle School
Project: How Does Light Wave Frequency Effect the Growth of Plants?



Yifan Amy Wang (Third Place), Solon Middle School
Project: How does exposing the seeds of pea plants to microwave radiation affect their growth

Alameda County Science and Engineering Fair

Pleasanton, California (12 March 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Brent Bergner, Jingmin Leng, Jochen Straub, Richard Yang, XiaoMin Yang


Erika Yang (First Place, Senior Div.), Granada High School
Project: Developing a Nanoscale-Field-Effect-Transistor (NanoFET) Biosensor based on MoS2 2D Material for Detecting Low Concentration Illness-Related Biomarker Molecules


Vinkat Krishnan (Second Place, Senior Div.), American High School

Rachel Guo (Third Place, Senior Div.), Irvington High School
Project: Globular Star Clusters in the Outer Halo of the Virgo Cluster's Central Galaxy

Arnav Gupta (First Place, Junior Div.), Stratford Fremont Middle School
Project: Time to Wake-Up the World of Drowsy Drivers



Aaron Ruiz (Second Place, Junior Div.)
Project: How does the temperature of a multicolored LED flashlight affect the light intensity it produces?



Samantha Ma and Helena Mekuanint (Second Place, Junior Div.), Chinese Christian School
Team Project: Solar Oven vs Conventional Oven



South Suburban Student Science Fair

Chicago, Illinois (12 March 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judge: George Magerl, Optical Society of Chicago

Alexander Martin (First Place), Hinsdale Central High School
Project: The Effect of Mirrors on Solar Panel Power Output


Jake Klimek (Second Place), Clifford Crone Middle School
Project: How Does Exterior Color of a Box Affect Heat Absorption


North Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair

Huntsville, Alabama (11 March 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Tommy Cantey and H. Philip Stahl

Connor Reed (First Place), St. John Paul II Catholic High School
Project: Ultrasonic Levitation



Riley Laurendine (Second Place), St. John Paul II Catholic High School
Project: Follow the Sun



Brianna Morgan Wells (Third Place)



North Suburban Student Science Fair

Chicago, Illinois (3 March 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judge: George Magerl, Optical Society of Chicago

Ronje Roy (First Place), Quest Academy
Project: Can Light Refraction be used to Determine Sugar Content of Various Drinks?


Rushi Bhatt (Second Place)
Project: Light Absorption Behavior in Sunscreen Chemicals for Solar Cell Applications


Penn Hills School District Linton Middle School Science Fair

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, (25 February 2016)
SPIE Volunteer: Jelena Janjic, Linda Peteanu, Haiyin Sun


Browndon Wafo (First Place), Linton Middle School
Project: Dark Secret


Lillian Gamache (Second Place), Linton Middle School
Project: Plant Photonics - Artificial UVA/UVB vs. Natural Sunlight


Thomas Senge (Third Place), Linton Middle School
Project: PIzza Box Solar Oven


Region V Mississippi Science and Engineering Fair

Mississippi State, Mississippi (23 February 2016)
SPIE Volunteers: Jenny Q. Du


Joseph Davide (First Place), Kosciusko High School
Project: Blue Energy


Miguel Garcia, Nicholas Pope, and Ilse Padilla (Second Place), Kosciusko High School
Team project: Radio Telescope

Ayan Taylor (Third Place), Choctaw County High School
Project: Light with Lead

Seminole County Regional Science and Engineering Fair

Sanford, Florida (13 February 2016)
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Gerald Holst and Carl King

Rafi Hessami (First Place, Senior Div), Lake Mary Preparatory School
Project: A Study of the Percent Transmission and Electrical Resistance of Reflection as Functions of Temperature


Matthew Lunn (Second Place, Senior Div)
Project: The Effects of Radiation on Seed Germination and Growth


Ethan Dolbear and Cooper Valentine (Third Place, Senior Div), Crooms AOTT
Team Project: Piezoelectric Palooza


Haley Galvis (First Place, Junior Div)
Project: Let it Glow


Antonio Crespo (Second Place, Junior Div), St Luke's Lutheran School
Project: The Best Angle of a Solar Panel


Molly McNamara (Third Place, Junior Div), St Luke's Lutheran School
Project: The Effects of Different Light Wavelengths on Penicillium Italicum

Akron Science and Technology Expo

Akron, Ohio, 30 January 2016
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Gerald Holst and Carl King

Anthony Mendoza (First Place), National Inventors Hall of Fame
Project: Does the color of light affect the growth of the plant


Tricia Trump (Second Place), Miller S School for the Visual and Performing Arts
Project: View from Below Seeing Colors Underwater


Dawson Bunner (Third Place), National Inventors Hall of Fame
Project: Wire Wilt: How Light-Emitting Diodes Fade as Temperature Increases