The 2024 Experimenta fair-contest promotes scientific dissemination and STEM work in secondary schools

The 2023 Experimenta fair-contest.
The 2023 Experimenta fair-contest.
The Faculty of Physics of the University of Valencia has called the XIX edition of the Experimenta Fair-Contest for demonstrations and experiments, in which students from ESO, Baccalaureate, Vocational Training and intermediate level training cycles work on experimental STEM projects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) that will be exhibited and explained in a festive event open to the public on April 21 at the Science Museum of Valencia. Registration to participate with projects is free and is open until January 29 at­infoferia.

This fair aims to actively involve students, helping them develop fundamental skills in science and technology through projects and also supporting scientific vocations. Experimenta is aimed at all ages and will include fun activities for girls and boys. The initiative is sponsored by the FECYT (Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology - Ministry of Science and Innovation) through a competitive project in the category of Science fairs, and the collaboration of numerous public and private entities, in addition to recognition as a project of social interest, beneficiary of patronage from the Valencian Government.

The participating groups, made up of a maximum of 4 people and with the help of their tutor, will develop experimental projects in the STEM field and at the fair they will present and explain them in one morning to the visiting public, made up of up to 5,000 people in previous editions.

Proposals can focus on any science and technology topic that shows or reveals some physical phenomenon and principle or its practical application. About 80-90 groups usually participate each year. The organisation takes special care of the participation of women in a physics and technology initiative in which, for some years now, they constitute 50% of the approximately 400 contestants.

The fair-contest has two categories depending on the nature of the project (physics demonstrations and experiments; or technological applications projects), although the objective in both cases is to work through projects on the relationship between science and technology with an important experimental component. In addition, it is broken down into Compulsory Secondary Education and Baccalaureate/intermediate training cycles. Thus, the jury awards four cash prizes and the public awards an additional one based on the votes of visitors, and there are also different honourable mentions in all categories.

As a novelty, this year the financial allocation of the prizes is increased: the four jury prizes amount to ¤600 for a group of 4 participants (¤150/participant), and the public prize amounts to ¤400 for a group of 4 members (100 ¤/participant). These awards will be presented at an event that takes place in the Museum’s Santiago Grisolía auditorium at the end of the fair on the morning of April 21. Among the recognitions, gifts will also be given to teachers with winning projects and the Department of Education recognises this extraordinary dedication to its students as hours of scientific school research projects.

On a date after the fair there will be an exhibition of the projects that have won a prize or mention, in which videos of the participating students will be recorded explaining the proposals. These videos and the files of the winning projects can be viewed openly online and will be part of the catalogue of teaching materials that disseminates science to an even wider public.

The organizing committee of the event is formed by the Faculty of Physics professor Chantal Ferrer as coordinator and Jordi Vidal, Miguel V. Andrés and Amparo Pons. The bases emphasise that proper functioning, correct understanding of the work by the participating groups and clarity of explanations are highly valued aspects.

Experimenta was born in 2005 with the aim of involving students in the World Year of Physics in an active and creative way. The extraordinary enthusiasm of contestants and visitors in that first call helped turn it into an annual event that has grown over the years and has become a reference and tradition as a science fair in the city of Valencia and the Valencian Community.

Along with the sponsorship of FECYT - Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, this initiative has the collaboration of the Valencia Science Museum, the Valencia City Council, the Institute of Corpuscular Physics (IFIC), the Royal Spanish Society of Physics, its Division of Teaching and Dissemination of Physics or the Group of Women in Physics, as well as the Area of Women in Optics and Photonics of SEDÓPTICA or the Sapiència awards and the IMP-Bio project. Also, the Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit- UV Chair of Science Dissemination, the Delegation for Incorporation into the UV, the Training and Quality Centre, and the Equality Unit of the UV, the Working Group of Physics Archimedes, the ScienceFlows research group, and external entities such as APTCV or companies such as Analog Devices, Prodel and Ventus.­enta/feria