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Learning about science, exploring our universe, understanding the mystery and wonders of Nature is and should always be a fascinating experience.

The Hands-on Science network (H-Sci) is launching a major European contest on "Ideas for Science Fairs". If you are a student, this is your chance to get involved! You may take part as an individual, as part of a group at School, in a Science Club or just at home.

A Science Fair day is special. After having a fun time experiencing the thrill of discovery, you will present the results of your work to friends, teachers and parents. You will explain your ideas, the experiments you tried, the research you did and what you discovered. You might even discover something completely unexpected, perhaps something no one knew before...

This Science Fair contest covers the entire European Union, so students hundreds of miles away in many different countries will see your work and share theirs with you. There will be also national competitions and you can even participate if you live outside the EU. Projects in all fields of Science and all kinds of presentations will be considered. The contest will run continuously until July 2006 and twice a year (in June and December) we will select the best projects.

There will be prizes and trophies for the most interesting ideas. You might even win a special invitation to present your work in one of our annual conferences! The next Conference will be contacted in Rethymno, Crete, Greece 13 to 16 July, 2005.

The Contest is divided into five age group categories: a) Junior (8-10), b) Elementary (11-12), c) Intermediate (13-15), d) Advanced (16-18) and e) Open (19-) (ages are determined at the date on which you submit your work). You may present your ideas in any format you want (text, diagrams, pictures, computer simulations,). Just try to make them as clear and exciting as possible. Send your work by the 10th of April  by email  (Nektarios Tsagliotis, ntsag@edc.uoc.gr) using the relevant application form (click here to download the application form). A brief description of all submissions will appear on the website. Please tell us the address of your own web site if you have one so that we can make a link to it. Only the application form for the Science Fair Contest must be submitted to the above email. All prospective participants must follow the registration procedures of the Conference. 

So how do you think up an idea? Well, it doesnt need to be complicated or complex (often the best are the simpler ones but its up to you. Let your imagination and the scientist inside you to take control!). Here are just a few ideas: what about a hamster that produces it self the energy needed to run his private jacuzzi?; a story about an ecological bird that recycles others waste; a simulation of a high jump competition in the moon; the distinctive features of the rocks you find in the backyard of your school; how to measure how far is the sun from us; why do we have two eyes or why are birds, usually, so colourful; how to build a solar popcorn machine; a painting made just of natural dyes; a simple, or not so simple, solar watch or a sand one; can you build a simulation of a mirage?; what is a hologram, how does it work, and what is it used for?; were there dinosaurs in Mars?; imagine a sophisticated robot to go try to find their skeletons; or find a way to produce an homemade rainbow; or bouncing balls; an underwater volcano; or a submarine robot to measure the depth of a lake and, why not, the quality of its water; a tsunami; or how to build a home to stand an earthquake; or any other of the so many ideas you will have just by looking at the world that surrounds you.

Remember when you are trying to understand the world, you are doing Science and how exciting and rewarding it might be to explore all those wonders of Nature!

The Hands-on Science network is pleased to invite you to participate in this contest. We are sure you will enjoy it and are looking forward to hearing from you!

Universidade do Minho, Portugal, 5 February 2004. 

Manuel Filipe Pereira da Cunha Martins Costa