• Courses
  • Education Outreach Resources
  • ABET
  • Contact SPIE Education
Print PageEmail Page

Science 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 $65,000 in cash awards since 2001 to over 325 talented students from elementary through high school.

SPIE volunteers are welcome to judge optics or photonics related projects at science fairs. If you are interested in volunteering or 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 2010 SPIE awarded cash prizes totaling over $18,000 to 85 talented students from elementary through high school.

Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

San Jose, California 9-15 May 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Neil Ball, Directed Light Inc.; Breck Hitz, LEOMA; and Sven Prevrhal, Phillips Medical Systems Inc.


From left to right: James Popper, Arjun Aggarwal, Amy Chyao and SPIE Judge: Neil Ball, Directed Light Inc.

Amy Chyao (1st Place), Williams High School, Texas
Project: Lights, Quantum Dots, Action!

James S. Popper (2nd Place), Marlborough College, United Kingdom
Project: Cooker Smart IR Fire Detector

Arjun Aggarwal (3rd Place), Lexington High School, South Carolina
Project: Can Concept of Stereo Vision be Applied in Robotics


California State Science Fair

Los Angeles, California (17-18 May 2010)
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Jeff Güell, Boeing Co., Alex Kazemi, and Albert Okorogu, Aerospace Corp.

Rafael Cosman and Aaron Schild (Special Award, Senior Div.), La Jolla High School
Team Project: Sun in Your Eyes? Electrochromic Sun-Tracking Windshield


From left to right: J. Güell, A. Kuchibholta, T. Alladi, P. Kikla, A. Kazemi, and A. Okorogu.

Tushar Alladi, Parag Kikla and Arun Kuchibhotla (Recognition Award, Senior Div.), Monta Vista High School
Team Project: Real-Time Markerless Hand Computer Interaction

Timothy Le and SPIE Judge Alex Kazemi at the Special Awards Ceremony.
Timothy Le (Special Award, Junior Div.), Sierra Canyon Middle School
Project:Which Wind Turbine Blade Design will Produce the Most Power?

Matthew Wong and SPIE Judges at the California State Science Fair.
Matthew Wong (Recognition Award, Junior Div.), Hilldale School
Project: Searching for Stability

Ohio State Science Day

Columbus, Ohio 8 May 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Rola Aylo, Univ. of Dayton; Georges Nehmetallah, Univ. of Dayton; and Jason Schmidt (Lead), U.S. Air Force.

Michael Gord (1st Place)
Project: Millimeter-wave and Terahertz Radiation for Standoff Chemical Sensing and Threat Detection: Phase IV

Karin Jorgenson (2nd Place)
Project: Vibrational Frequency of Springs

Jasmine Fujimura (3rd Place)
Project: Bright Ideas

New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair

Socorro, New Mexico 9-10 April 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judge: Hector Erives, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Jeongmin Lee (1st Place), Sierra Middle School
Project: Rotation of Light

Mason Fitzgerald (2nd Place), Fitzgerald Home School
Project: A "Jolly" Good Light

Erick Chavez and Amanda Edington (3rd Place), Deming High School
Team Project: Compact Fluorescent: A Bright Idea?

55th Colorado Science and Engineering Fair

Fort Collins, Colorado 8-10 April 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judge: Bradley Cohen, CDQ Enterprises LLC and Rashid Safaisini, Colorado State Univ.


SPIE Special Award winners at CSEF: Lucia Guatney, Garrett Crownover, Kelli Lynch, Jonah Archuleta, Courtney Ensz and Nathanael Ramirez
Kelly Lynch (1st Place, Senior Div.), Rocky Mountain High School
Project: Irradiation Extermination Part II: A Portable System to Eliminate Water-Borne Microorganism

Garrett Crownover (2nd Place, Senior Div.), Plainview High School
Project: Laptop Screens: Entertainment or Energy

Lucia Guatney (3rd Place, Senior Div.), Cherry Creek High School
Project: The Feasibility of Solar Light Pressure as a Means of Interstellar Propulsion
Nathanael Ramirez (1st Place, Junior Div.), Sargent School
Project: The "Light" of Our Lives

Jonah Archuleta (2nd Place, Junior Div.)
Project: Refraction Confection


Courtney Ensz (3rd Place, Junior Div.), Hi-Plains Junior High
Project: Solar Heat

55th Annual Orange County Science and Engineering Fair

Costa Mesa, California 11 April 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Khostrow Bakhtar, Bakhtar Associates; Zhongping Chen, Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic and Vinh Ho, UC Irvine.

Madison Banker (1st Place), St Anne School
Project: Vision VS Daylight
Flora Chang (right)2nd Place
Project: The Effect of Eye Color on Periperal Vision
Michelle Chen (3rd Place), Troy High School
Project: Study on the Efficiency Droop in Wide Bandgap Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

Kentucky Science and Engineering Fair

Richmond, Kentucky 3 April 2010

Kelly Kleier (1st Place), Notre Dame Academy
Project: Prototype Solar-Powered Liquid Piston Engine: Phase II
Hannah Schmidt (2nd Place), Notre Dame Academy
Project: Energy Production with Nanocrystalline Solar Cells

Megan Mercer (3rd), Ballard High School
Project: A New Solar Energy Search Strategy


Alabama Science and Engineering Fair
Huntsville, Alabama 2-3 April 2010

SPIE Volunteer Judge:H. Philip Stahl, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr.

Nicholas Christensen (Senior Div.), Wetempka High School
Project: 1 Sun + 8 bits - H2O: Digitally Optimizing "Smart" Photovoltaics for a Water Distillation Application
Nicholas developed a system to distill drinking water from contaminated water using photovoltaics as the power supply to drive the electronics and heater system. He also developed the electronics and software to control the system. He licensed this entire system to a company in Taiwan which is field testing it at an industrial site.

Emily Duke (1st Place, Senior Div.), Jefferson County International Baccalaureate
Project: The Germicidal Effects of Ultraviolet-C Light on Coliform Found in Pond Water
Emily studied the efficacy of different exposure times of UV-C for killing Coliform contamination in water.
Stephen Leahy (2nd Place, Senior Div.), Catholic High School
Project: Construction of a Variable-Angle Photovoltaic Meter and Measurement of Solar Power at Different Times of the Day and Different Angles of Declination
Stephen placed a solar cell onto a camera tripod and using a protractor measured the produced output as a function of angle from level. He also observed that the angular dependence only existed on sunny days and went away on cloudy days.
Jonathan Brande (3rd Place, Senior Div.), Alabama School of Fine Arts
Project: Effects of Simulated Martian Dust Storms on Solar Cell Output
Jonathan built a dust chamber with two optical systems. First was a solar cell and light bulb. The secondd was laser beam and detctor. He measured the simultaneous degradation of output signal from the illuminated solar cell and laser beam detector as a function of dust being blown about the chamber.
Nick Simerly (1st Place, Junior Div), Westminster Christian Academy
Project: Smart Wireless, Energy Efficient Motion Sensor
Nick used a wireless motion sensing system to trigger a video camera to observe objects in the field of view. He studied the strength of signal to noise of his system as a function of the objects size, distance and velocity.
Abigail Smith (2nd Place, Junior Div.), St. John the Baptist Catholic School
Project: Suck Up that Solar Power
Abigail studied the output power of a solar cell as a function of pointing it directly at the sun versus pointing it directly south as a function of time of day. She did a trapezoidal integration of total power output from her solar cell for the duration of the day.
Hanna Brown (3rd Place, Junior Div.), Glenwood High School
Project: Solar Power: Does Distance of Light Affect Current?
Hanna measured that output current from a solar cell is non-linear with distance from the light source.

62nd Georgia Science and Engineering Fair

Athens, Georgia 31 Mar - 3 Apr 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judge: Peter Kner, University of Georgia

Karen Anderson and Nathan Pearson (2nd Place), McIntosh High School
Team Project: Light Intensity Versus Heat and Energy Efficiency in Light Bulbs
Kaj Hansen (3rd Place), Carrollton High School
Project: Investigating Photo-Induced Proton Transfer in Associated Liquids

South Central South Dakota Regional Science Fair

Mitchell, South Dakota 31 March 2010

Tom Harris, Plankinton High School
Project: Burning Lasers

North Carolina Science and Engineering Fair

Raleigh, North Carolina 27 March 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Michael Escuti, North Carolina State Univ.; Russell Philbrick, North Carolina State Univ. and Jeff Xu, North Carolina State Univ.

Stephen Carpenter and Dalton Williams (1st Place), Ashbrook High School
Team Project: LASER Transmitters

Ashley Caison (2nd Place), Northwood High School
Project: Pigments and Photosynthesis



Tamra Fisher (3rd Place), Greenleaf Center for Classical Studies
Project: An Objective Analysis of Detergent Efficiency

Washington State Science and Engineering Fair

Bremerton, Washington 27 March 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judges: David Bajorins, Orb Optronix, Inc. and Robert Mathews, R Mathews Optical Works Inc.

George Lejnine (1st Place), Mercer Island High School
Project: Human-Computer Interaction Using Optical Technology

Mitchell Lund (2nd Place), W.F. West High School
Project: An Investigation into the Ability of a Solar Powered Stirling Engine to Produce Electricity

James Reis (3rd Place), Sequim Middle School
Project: Solar Sails


Badger State Science and Engineering Fair

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 27 March 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Kaushik Patel, Sigma Aldrich and Jungtae Rha, Medical College of Wisconsin

Ethan Ardern
Project: Exploring the Role of Angles in a Solar Cell


Minnesota State Science and Engineering Fair

St. Paul, Minnesota 26-28 March 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judge: Gregory Whaley, Lockheed Martin

Brandon Onopa (1st Place), Breck School
Project: Engineering J-Aggregate Thin-Films for Implementation in Organic Photovoltaic Devices

Gavin Mai (2nd Place), Friedell Middle School
Project: Using Mathematical Algorithms to Identify Minor Image Differences


Nathanial Davies (3rd Place), Winona Middle School
Project: Can the Output of a Solar Cell be Increased by the use of Mirrors or a Magnifying Glass?

Oklahoma State Science and Engineering Fair

Ada, Oklahoma 25-27 March 2010

Larod Snyder (1st Place), Westville High School
Project: Determining the Concentration of a Substance in a Solution by Measuring the Loss in Intenstity of a Light Beam that Contains Suspended Particular Matter

Hanna Huling (2nd Place), Ada High School
Project: Chemical Oxidative Treatement of Soil-Screening Method and Effects of Iron Concentration and pH

Paige Parrack (3rd Place), Southmoore High School
Project: Heavy Metal Bioremediation: Relief for a Ravaged Land


Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada 25-27 March 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Andrew Knights, McMaster Univ. and Jianwei Mu, McMaster Univ.

Joy Liu (1st Place), Westmount Secondary
Project: A New Focus: Reflecting Towards Higher Power Output of Photovoltaics
Steven Beltrano (2nd Place), St. Catherine of Siena
Project: Laser Beats
Dorian Sciamanna (3rd Place), St. Ann's Ancaster
Project: How LEDs are Brighter and Safer

55th San Francisco Bay Area Science Fair

San Francisco, California 22-25 March 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Cynthia Darling, UC San Francisco and Breck Hitz, LEOMA

Anastasia Reshetikhin (1stPlace), El Cerrito High School
Project: Optics of a Fishbowl
Todd Porter (2ndPlace), Holy Spirit School
Project: Solar Charging Your iPhone or iTouch for Dummies
Kevin Nguyen (3rdPlace), St. John School
Project: Does the Angle at Which the Sun’s Rays Fall on a Solar Panel Affect the Power that’s Produced

North Suburban Cook County Regional Science Fair (Region 6)

20 March 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judge: George Magerl, Optical Society of Chicago

Scott Albaum (1st Place), Lincoln Hall Middle School
Project: What Color Absorbs Heat the Best

Rishi Thakkar (2nd Place), Plum Grove Junior High
Project: Heat Absorption by Color


Chicago South Suburban Area Fair (Region 9)

March 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judge: George Magerl, Optical Society of Chicago

Yoshin Govender (1stPlace), Gregory Middle School
Project: Spectrum to Solar
Angie Verdial (2ndPlace), J. Sterling Morton West High School
Project: How Does Color Affect Heating by Absorption of Light

Chicago Public Schools Student Science Fair

19 March 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judge: George Magerl, Optical Society of Chicago

Leah Wallach (1st Place), Edison School
Project: Cooking with the Sun
Lauren Lee (2nd Place), Von Stuben High School
Project: The Mirror Effect: Voltage and Current
Jessika Gaughan (3rd Place), Cassell School
Project: Roses R Red, Violets R Blue, Y is This True?

Northeastern Ohio Science and Engineering Fair

Cleveland, Ohio 15-18 March 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judges: Rafat Ansari, NASA Glenn Research Ctr. and David Fischer, NASA Glenn Research Ctr.

Melanie Carolin (1st Place), Strongsville High School
Project: Eqvine Night Vision
Julia Barbur (2nd Place), Hudson Middle School
Project: The Blue Light of Luminol
Ben Wozniak (3rd Place), Hudson Middle School
Project: The Effect of Color on Solar Cells

Southwest District Science and Engineering Expo

Cincinnati, Ohio 13 March 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judge: Ernest Hall, Univ. of Cincinnati


From left to right: Michael Di Mascio, Bornali Rashmi Borah, and Afua Ansah.
Afua Ansah (1st Place), Fairfield Middle School
Project: Spin to Light

Michael Di Mascio (2nd Place), Waynesville High
Project: Viability of a Photoinduced Electron Spin Alignment Creating a Magnetic Event in a Polymer

Bornali Rashmi Borah (3rd Place), Sycamore High School
Project: Enhancement of T1O2-Coated Nanocrystalline Solar Cell Efficiency Through Organic Dyes


55th North Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair

Huntsville, Alabama 3-5 March 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judge: H. Philip Stahl, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr.

Kendall Bane, Robert Sexton, and Zachery Jones (Senior Div.), Westminster Christian Academy
Team Project: Constructing an Unmanned Ground Vehicle From Off-The-Shelf Components
The team integrated a video targeting camera, a robotic finger to pull the trigger on a pellet gun and a pellet gun onto a radio controlled mobile platform. They calibrated the video targeting system and demonstrated the ability to hit targets with the pellet gun.
Sophia A. Burkhardt (Senior Div.), Catholic High School
Project: How do Certain Variations Affect the Output of a Solar Cell
Sophia did a wide ranging study of the electrical output from her solar cell as a function of different weather conditions and different inside lighting conditions. She is an enthusiastic proponent of solar electric power.
Craig A. Conner (Junior Div., Monrovia Middle School
Project: Integration
Craig integrated a GPS sensor, accelerometers and LED lights into a skate board. He then programmed the LED lights to direct him (turn right, turn left or go straight) from a starting position to an ending position (as detected by the GPS sensor). The accelerometers determined his direction of travel.

Pictured are Phil Stahl (SPIE Judge), Nick Simerly, and NARSEF's Emcee, Phillip Farrington.
Nick Simerly (Junior Div), Westminster Christian Academy
Project: Smart Wireless, Energy Efficient Motion Sensor
Nick used a wireless motion sensing system to trigger a video camera to observe objects in the field of view. He studied the strength of signal to noise of his system as a function of the objects size, distance and velocity.

Seminole County Regional Science, Math and Engineering Fair

Sanford, Florida, 20 February 2010
SPIE Volunteer Judge: Carl King, Northrop Grumman

Kaley Smith (1st Place), Lake Howell High School
Project: Rapid Detection of E-Coli using Strepravidin Conjugated Quantum Dots as a Biosensor by Fluorescent Microscopy


Nancy Z. Lu (2nd Place), Seminole High School
Project: Cancer Killers: New Photo Sensitizers for Two-Photon Phototherapy

Nicholas Walterhouse (3rd Place), Rock Lake Middle School
Project: Refraction Density Did It


USA Science and Engineering Festival