OKLAHOMA CITY – It’s an event that attracts thousands of Oklahoma students to compete in the field of science.
From robotics, medicine, engineering, even drone studies, the students go head to head for awards and scholarships in the Oklahoma State Science and Engineering Fair.
But after 45 years of support from the state, its funding has been cut.
“It was due to the budget cuts we had last year. There was a loss of $38 million to that fund and that line item really required deep cuts and decisions,” said Joy Hofmiester, State School Superintendent.
Around $50,000 of money cut, funded the fair.
“This is one of the sad notes when it comes to what happens when we have a loss of funding or when we see budgets that are smaller than they have been in the past. Decisions have to be made and unfortunately this is the way cuts came down,” said Hoffmiester.
State representative Mickey Dollens says the failure was on the part of leadership in the majority party to provide additional revenue for the state.
“Think about the opportunity we are cutting from the next Einstein or the next Steve Jobs. For a lot of kids who don’t play athletics, this is their time to shine. A lot of students excel in science and math. This is the competition they look forward to all year,” said Dollens.
For now, the future of the state science fair is unclear. But if it were to end for good, some fear the move would mean the end of all science fairs in the state.
Elizabeth Allan is part of the Regional Science Fair held annually at the University of Central Oklahoma.
“It will be very hard for me to argue to a ninth grader to do really well and take part in a science fair, when you can`t take part in a state competition and you have no hope of being recognized for all that effort,” said Allan.
The state superintendent says once funding is restored, the science fair would be able to apply to the state for funding again.
But that doesn’t help with this year. So, students are getting involved.
They are hoping to get a corporate sponsor and try other ways to raise funds.