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Supplement to “Science Fair Whiz Kids”

In schools throughout the state, efforts to interest young people in math and science are on the rise. But teachers and school administrators are not the only ones taking up the initiative. Specialists with expertise in everything from anatomy to zoology have formed a network to help students and their teachers get a handle on all things scientific.

Their assistance is free and it’s accessible on the Internet.

“These are scientists and engineers who believe in promoting science and math in Kentucky,” says Karen Kidwell, science consultant for the Kentucky Department of Education. “And they volunteered to make themselves available to answer questions online, that’s how committed they are to this.”

Here’s how it works: Students and teachers who are scientifically curious can log on to the Kentucky Science Support Network at and choose from a menu of topics that also include robotics, genetics, and Earth and space science. Via e-mail, and sometimes phone, visitors to the site may ask network member specific questions within their specific disciplines. Answers are also delivered by e-mail.

According to Kidwell, science consultant for the Kentucky Department of Education, the network was formed three years ago through a grassroots effort on the part of directors of the Kentucky State Science and Engineering Fair. The notion was to help teachers and students research science topics for classroom study, but also to help students work their ways through science fair projects.

“We recruited people from our personal networks of scientists and engineers and asked members of the Kentucky Science Teachers Association to encourage people they knew to join the network,” Kidwell says.

At last count, Kidwell says, more than 200 scientists—including some from Kentucky’s colleges and universities—were active in the network.

“And teachers have commented on how nice these people were and how willing they were to share the information,” she says.

Though promoted to teachers and students within Kentucky school systems, anyone can log on with legitimate queries for network scientists.

To read the Kentucky Living September 2007 feature that goes along with this supplement, click here: Science Fair Whiz Kids

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