These fairs were started by Dave and Karen Rodriguez after they moved to Pleasanton from Santa Clara and brought the science fair concept from the schools there. They started at Lydiksen Elementary, where over the years their four children have attended, and in the second year had 4,000 attending the school's science fair. Karen Rodriguez, a well-known Girl Scout leader in Pleasanton, talked the fairgrounds into becoming a sponsor of a district-wide science fair as a community service project, and it's grown every year since. On Monday, more than 3,000 scientists, engineers, technology professionals and other volunteers will interview science fair participants at their schools in Dublin and Pleasanton, giving these students an opportunity to explain their projects, helping them with the presentations they will make to the public on Tuesday and building their confidence. Then on Tuesday, more than 4,000 projects will be transported over to the fairgrounds by parent volunteers, who will also help set up their student's booth and ready the research project for show that night. The two-hour fair begins at 7 p.m. for parents, friends, teachers and elementary school students. For security purposes, the fair is not open to the general public although passes can be obtained in person and with identification at any of the elementary schools.
Just as interesting as the kindergarten through fifth-grade projects are related activities by corporate and nonprofit sponsors of the event, which now number 41. It's a rare chance to see Carl Zeiss Meditec scientists demonstrating some of their latest medical technologies and Clorox will surely have the fair jumping with its energetic bangs and explosions. The Lawrence Hall of Science, Oakland Zoo, ValleyCare Health System and Thoratec Corporation are returning this year with new and innovative displays. First-time exhibitors this year include the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, which will be demonstrating infrared imaging, and the Bay Area Orienting Club, which will teach kids about the science of maps and compass with a mini-orienting course.
Karen Rodriguez also will have some of her Girl Scouts with her at four different booths with displays on malnutrition and nutrition, geology activities and on how all of us can help the environment. Hopefully, they'll also have some cookies to pass out. Also returning to this year's Science Fun Fair will be the Rodriguez' four children who tested their scientific abilities at some of the earlier fairs when they were students at Lydiksen. They are Deborah, now a senior at Chico State; Michael, who is at the U.S. military academy at West Point; his twin sister Michelle who will be a junior at Chico, and Rebecca, now in the eighth grade at Hart Middle School, who will attend Foothill High starting in August.