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Valerie Knowles

Fair Director


The Capital Area Science and Engineering Fair will become the venue to connect bright and motivated young scientists with this region’s industry, academia and professional organizations to promote economic development within Central Pennsylvania. Introducing students to the science and technology opportunities within our region will facilitate the cultivation and retention of a tremendous resource – our youth.

Dr. Thomas Bowman Jr., a local physician started the fair in 1957 to teach his 12 year old son, Tom, a lesson. His son considered himself ‘the smartest person around.” Dr. Bowman took him to see the Westinghouse Talent Search (predecessor of ISEF) exhibit in Washington D.C. After viewing the displays, Tom admitted, “Dad, there are some people smarter than I am.” This was enough to convince Dr. Bowman of the importance of science fairs and coordinated with the National Science Fair to establish a local affiliated fair. With the sponsorship of the Patriot-News, the first fair was held at the Zembo Mosque with over 450 projects from students from 50 schools in seven counties. After undergoing several transformations, most recently in 2007 when the Patriot-News relinquished sponsorship, the Capital Area Science and Engineering Fair was formed in partnership with local Higher Education Institutions and businesses has grown to provide the International Science and Engineering Fair affiliated opportunity to public and private school students in grades 7-12 in 41 counties.