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The Vermont State Science and Mathematics Fair

Page history last edited by pinkhamc@... 11 years, 10 months ago

Carl is the co-director of the Vermont State, Science and Mathematics Fair.


He became interested in science fairs after his first entry in the Junior Vermont State Science Fair in 1957, when he was an 8th grader in Northfield, Vermont.  The fair was held in different Vermont towns back then and that year, the fair was held in Northfield, so it was easy for him to enter it.  What he entered for his project, is not allowed in today's Fair: his shell collection.  Carl's first remembered thoughts were of butterflies and flowers and other things of nature.  Since he spent his exploratory years (through the second grade) in Melrose, MA, the ocean was nearby and one of the natural items that it regularly produced was sea shells.  He thus developed a keen interest in collecting and learning about sea shells at an early age, so he entered his collection (and the knowledge that he had, which was rather sophisticated for an eighth-grader).  It took one of the few first places.  The next time the science fair played a role was as a senior in High School, 1961.  That year, it was held in Springfield, Vermont.  Once again, he entered his shell collection, which had grown considerably (especially thanks to a huge box of shells from around the world that was gifted to him in the estate of Mrs. Plumb, a teacher at Leland and Gray Seminary in Townshend, Vermont, where his father (Vernon) had been the principal), and his equally expanded knowledge, especially of the fascinating animals that secreted such natural wonders of art.  Again, he garnered one of the few first place awards. In those days the fair lasted two days: Friday evening (which was mostly set up and other administrative procedures, Saturday was the day of judging, and Sunday (I think) the day of awards.  This was before the interstate so many students from distant sites (Northfield to Springfield was about a four hour to five hour drive back then) were housed by local families.  Carl was fortunate enough to be housed by a family (whose name he can't now recall, much to his chagrin and regret) who heard about his success and gave him a huge shell (the gastropod - snail - with the largest recorded shell in the world: Syrinx aruanus.  This specimen was about two feet (60 cm) long.  They also gave him an 1825 First Edition of Index Testaceologicus by W. Wood.  See below for a cover and a couple of the plates.  It remains to this day one of the most cherished books in his library.


later that spring, as one of the finalists of the Vermont Science Fair, ,he went on to compete in the Northern New England Science Fair, where his collection didn't hold a candle to the projects that featured real scientific inquiry.  In graduate school, he judged in the Illinois State Science and Engineering Fair at Urbana-Champaign (approximately 1966-70).  After graduate school, he judged in the Utah State Science and Engineering Fair in Salt Lake City (approximately 1974-81).  It was in Utah that he also was invited to be an Army judge in the International Science and Engineering Fair.  Carl continued in that role for 25 years, until his retirement from the Army in 2003.  In the last five of those years, he was the senior Army judge, having responsibility for nearly 30 Army judges.  When he returned to Northfield, Vermont, to teach at Norwich University, in 1982, he began judging at the Vermont State Science and Mathematics Fair, which by then had permanently landed at Norwich University in Northfield.  As the years went by, he knew he had to introduce ISEF to the VSSMF, but he also knew it wouldn't happen until he was free of his military obligations.


In 2005, as he had promised himself and Mary Hoppe and Martha McBride, the then co-directors of the VSSMF, he affiliated the fair with ISEF and with the exception of 2007, we have been affiliated every year since.  In 2006, Mary and Martha retired after about thirty years of service as co-directors.  Carl stepped in as one co-director and was fortuitously joined by Tricia Finkle, a prior middle school teacher who had an equally strong conviction that science fairs could have a profound impact on the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) preparedness of our youth.  It is not easy.  It takes an average of 15 hours a week for each of the co-directors to raise the funding, and make all the other behind-the-scenes arrangements necessary to pull off a fair that is becoming Vermont's lead STEM Competition.  Go to Vermont State Science and Mathematics Fair to find out more.


Title page                                                                                   A page from Pelecypod (et al) section                   A page from gastropod section


Syrinx aruanus.


This is the shell I was given at the science fair my senior year.  Note the quarter for scale.


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