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Science Fair Season: Twelve Kids, a Robot Named Scorch . . . and What It Takes to Win

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  224 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews

This is the engaging true story of kids competing in the high-stakes, high-drama world of international science fairs. Every year the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair brings together 1,500 high schoolers from more than 50 countries to compete for over $4 million dollars in prizes and scholarships. These amazing kids are doing everything from creating bion

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 19th 2011 by Hachette Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jul 23, 2011 Minli rated it really liked it
Recommended to Minli by: Christina
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was recommended to me by a teacher friend of mine, and as I'm always on the hunt for good non-fiction with a soft spot for education and science, I picked this up immediately. I'm so glad I did. Dutton chronicles the stories of six students at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair 2009 in detail, and also on profiles a half-dozen more famous science fair winners. Her thesis is simple--science fairs are the beacon of hope in American education, given how American kids test in science o ...more
Nov 07, 2011 Megan rated it it was amazing
I don't remember science fairs at all as a kid. Either they were nonexistent in the schools I attended, or it was optional and my teachers weren't very enthusiastic about it. So my concept of science fairs was pretty much stereotypical - baking soda volcanos and trifold displays full of clip art.

To say I was amazed by the accomplishments of the kids in this book is an understatement. These kids are doing some incredible stuff. This book does a great job of showing how incredible science can be a
Rosemary Titievsky
The students and mentors presented in this book are awe-inspiring. The science is real and relevant. This book made me want to go back in time with adult confidence and embrace geekdom. It also made me realize how important it is for me to support, encourage, and inspire my children, any child. Just imagine what may be accomplished by smart people of any age when they have a little more self-esteem, a whole lot less self-consciousness, and open-minded, adult mentors who respect and reassure.
Read this book! I truly loved it. I laughed, I cried, I rooted for these kids and I was nervous with anticipation. This book is so uplifting - about the number of motivated, bright kids our country has, about the power of a single teacher or mentor to change a life and the infinite possibilities of homeschooling. This has catapulted onto my list of favorite books ever!
Tammy Mannarino
Aug 15, 2013 Tammy Mannarino rated it really liked it
this was a fun read in the spirit of documentaries on spelling bee, ballroom dancing or crossword competition contestants. Having attended the Virginia State science fair this Spring, it was fascinating to find out what goes on behind the scenes and at the higher levels.
Beth G.
Fact: I was never part of a Science Fair. It's one of those things that I'm a little sad to have missed out on. But Dutton offers a chance to live vicariously through some kids who are really part of the Science Fair scene. Twelve students are profiled in individual chapters, which alternate between a student (as of the book's writing) headed for the 2009 Intel International Science Fair after winning a qualifying local competition and a participant in a previous year who has become Science Fair ...more
Aug 01, 2011 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nook, arc
Product Description
Odd. Incredible. Innovative. Not Just Another Baking Soda Volcano.

In the way that Word Freak exposed the hidden world of competitive Scrabble players, now Science Fair Season pulls back the curtain on the highly competitive and high-stakes world of high school science fairs.

Each year, the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair brings together over 1,500 of the most talented students from more than 50 countries, with over $4 million prizes and scholarships at stake.
Melanie Goodman
I have to admit that I was not a fan of science fairs as a kid. I made the obligatory poster boards, filling my trifolds with boring results from insignificant studies on how various beverages influence tooth enamel. I was by no means revolutionizing the world of science, nor were my classmates. Our science fairs were a far cry from those described in Judy Dutton’s Science Fair Season. At the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair students are engaged in real science from astronomy t ...more
Feb 24, 2011 Felicia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
I loved this book, I'm so glad a read it. It isn't one I would normally pick up, I was never a science lover myself but these stories were amazing. There was a kid who was into radioactivity, a girl with Leprosy, a pretty actress who falls in love with science and more amazing stories of real kids who are really smart. The projects that the kids came up with were amazing, I never knew so much went into preparing for and competing in a science fair. I love the emphasis on help from teachers and p ...more
Jul 10, 2011 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This captivating book held my interest from cover to cover. Read it in two days and had difficulty putting it down!

In the style of the movie, Spellbound, in each chapter, Judy Dutton profiles the extraordinary stories of twelve high school students competing in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). She alternates between six legends from science fairs past and six students who are heading toward the 2009 competition. Each story is more engaging and incredible than the next
Laura de Leon
Jul 21, 2014 Laura de Leon rated it it was amazing
I'm already thinking about all the people I know that need to read this book.

Science Fair Season strikes a wonderful balance between the stories of the 11 competitors it follows, each with a different set of challenges to overcome and support to get there, and the research and science of their projects.

It's the story of a science fair, but not one like what you would see at your local elementary school every year. This contest is nationwide, and has exhibits from teens that take their science v
Dec 28, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it
Kids+Science+Awesome=This Book. Judy Dutton tells the story of kids whose lives were profoundly changed by science and science fairs in an engaging, fun manner. Even without literary flair, these stories would be heartwarming and incredible. I mean, who doesn't want to hear about a kid who built his own nuclear reactor? Dutton compiles these stories and a level of personality with her nonintrusive first person narration. Perhaps the best thing is how nondescript her perspective is, yet it adds a ...more
Mar 13, 2011 Alison rated it really liked it
This was a really fast and engaging read. The author profiles several high school students who made it to the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in 2009. At their best, these profiles give us a sense of how the students were changed by engaging with science and also teach something about whatever the student's topic was. The weakest profile spent too much time on the student's personal life and not enough on the science (despite having won a regional fair in order to get to the I ...more
Oct 01, 2014 Eric rated it it was amazing
Wow, what a great book! This follows a set of high school students as they go through the Intel science fair. The author does a great job of telling the story of each student she writes about, and makes each child very compelling. I love the way the author describes how the students have changed over time, going into their childhood and describing how they got to where they are. One of the few books I found so engaging I could not put it down and completed reading it in a day. Loved it!
Jun 05, 2011 Christina rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book on a whim. It was sitting on the shelf of NEW books at the library, and its bright colour simply called out to me. Boy am I glad I picked it up.

I absolutely loved this book! As both a science teacher and a past science fair participant (though I never made it past regionals!), I thought it was charming, funny, thought provoking... and totally spoke to my inner geek! I liked that the students profiled in the book came from all walks of life, and that their projects really r
Adrienne Bagnato
Jul 07, 2014 Adrienne Bagnato rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this foray into the world of the Intel Science fair and a select group of young people who participated in 2009. The author selected a diverse group of youngsters to feature in her book and by the end of the story you were cheering them on. I was impressed by how many of them had much to overcome in their journey to the Intel competition. Great inspirational book for budding scientists.
Jun 09, 2011 Ruth rated it really liked it
Most people don't win. Even the super smart, super dedicated, hard workers. Most of the people at the Intel Science fair don't win any prize, and most people don't even make it to the national science fair. But this book chronicles kids who DO make it to the big leagues (whether or not they win the big prizes in the end would be spoiling the ending). It presents a world where if you follow your dreams you will win, at least to some degree. And sometimes I just think it's not quite as clear as th ...more
Jul 14, 2013 Lisagoegan rated it liked it
I liked the stories of the individual kids, but the overall pattern felt a little too manufactured. I guess that's a good thing because it was well crafted and readable in a narrative sense, but I wanted there to be more meat and more mess. Blurbed by Mary Roach, it has a similar style, but I think Roach allows herself to be led more by the tangents, which is what makes her books interesting to me. I ended up using one of the chapters about using synesthesia to teach autistic kids in my reflecti ...more
Jul 12, 2012 Marie rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books that I read recently. It's about kids who is written to/happened to join the world largest science competition, Intel Science Fair. All the stories are quite interesting: sometimes they make you surprised in awe, sometimes they make you cry.
To read this book is too see kids growing up and you cannot finish this book without being moved. I bet it.

Jul 17, 2011 Emily rated it it was amazing
Absolutely facinating, this book is recommended for all readers, not just those interested in science.
Dutton interviews several students-- the majority of whom are competiting in the 2009 Intel International Science & Engineering Fair-- about their projects, ranging from studying the honeybee population to inventing a glove that can translate sign language to text. The talent of these kids is remarkable, and Dutton relays their often inspirational stories without jargon or overly saccharine
Jan 24, 2016 Sally rated it really liked it
Interesting stories about kids from all walks of life becoming fascinated with and excelling in science.
Alizarin Crimson
Jan 27, 2016 Alizarin Crimson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Interesting!! I would recommend this for anyone who is interested in science fairs!
Dec 17, 2012 Nan rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Each chapter of this book focuses on an adolescent heading into the grandaddy international science fair with the climax announcing how the kids performed. I am a sucker for earnest, nerdy people. This book delivered that in full. The themes of how to make science education more engaging, tap into the creative potential of youth, celebrate scientists like we celbrate athletes, and the urgency to capture kids early before they sucuumb to boredom or fears of being labeled "earnest" and "nerdy" mad ...more
Oct 30, 2011 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
These are captivating stories of real students participating in Science Fairs. As a teacher, I thought these would be great stories to interest and inspire my own students. These science fair participants have a drive to work and learn that is inspiring. At the same time, this is not a dry science tome. The book is full of suspense as these students compete for amazing awards and prizes at the highest levels. As well, Dutton shares the personal stories of these students and makes them very real ...more
Aug 23, 2015 Wenting rated it really liked it
This book exceeded my expectations. It detailed what went into each of the six competitors' science fair projects while simultaneously telling a REALLY GOOD STORY. I was astounded by the facts presented about each competitor (the people in this book are are scarily smart!), inspired by their accomplishments, and emotionally invested in their journeys. It was not so much a story about science but a story of what a group of unconnected - though equally intelligent and motivated - young people were ...more
Feb 07, 2011 Danielle rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, nonfiction, arc, ebook
eARC acquired from NetGalley. An utterly charming book detailing the ambitions of six 2009 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair contestants. A bit like Spellbound, but with science fair contestants. Six chapters discuss the 2009 students, with other chapters mixed in dealing with past science fair contestants. I had no idea science fairs could be such a big deal. The last chapter discusses who wins what at the 2009 fair, so you really do need to keep reading to find out what happens ...more
Brian Ham
Dec 15, 2015 Brian Ham rated it it was amazing
Great book, lots of detail
Amy Spencer
Jul 18, 2011 Amy Spencer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not put this book down, I loved it! I've even thought about the kids she featured in it since -- like the four-year-old who wired the electricity in one room in his parent's house. It's a powerful reminder what kids can do, and I have to say, it made me sit up a little taller and want to accomplish more in my own life. I mean, if these kids are doing what *they're* doing...

All in all, I can't recommend it enough.
Sep 26, 2011 Lorraine rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Maybe because of the lack of science fairs in my childhood. The first several chapters give the back story of several kid's projects and their development (they are geniuses!) and the final chapters describe the super bowl of science fairs. This author knows what can make a science story work, captivating stories, suspense (who will win the big prize?), inspiration with a little bit of science stuck in.
Aug 24, 2011 Nicole rated it liked it
Pretty interesting. Kind of thin at times, and I'm not sure why Scorch gets title billing, but the kids' stories were interesting enough. I wish the author had just stuck with the 6 ISEF entrants; the other chapters are OK stories, but they feel more like filler. Feels almost like it's written for an older YA audience, and I actually might recommend it to some of the science/invention-crazy kids at the library.
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Judy Dutton is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Since graduating from Harvard with a degree in English and American Literature,she's contributed to Cosmopolitan, Maxim, Glamour, Redbook, and other magazines and websites. She is also the author of Secrets from the Sex Lab, an eye-opening look at the most groundbreaking scientific discoveries in the realm of sexual behavior.
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