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Brief History of the Oklahoma State Science & Engineering Fair

1921 - The Society for Science & The Public (SSP) [formally known as Science Service] was founded with the goal of keeping the public informed of scientific achievements.


1950 - Science Service created the National Science Fair for high school winners of local and regional science fairs, first held in Philadelphia.


1956 - National Science Fair hosted in Oklahoma City.


1958 - The fair became international for the first time when Japan, Canada, and Germany joined the competition.


1970s - Oklahoma ranks second in sending the most students to ISEF, which was once again held in Oklahoma City in 1975.


1997 - Intel became a major sponsor and the annual fair has since grown into the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) with affiliated fairs in more than 75 countries, regions, and territories.


2017 - Funding for the Oklahoma State Science and Engineering Fair (OSSEF) was cut from the Oklahoma State Department of Education's budget. Retired dentist and former science teacher, James Young, generously donated $50,000 to ensure to continuation of the state science fair through 2018.


2018 - After being hosted at East Central University for 45 years, the announcement was made that Oklahoma State University will serve as the new host site for OSSEF and oversight manager for the seven Regional Science Fairs across the state. Donations received from OSU's President's Office, Provost's Office, Office of Enrollment and Brand Management, and College of Education & Human Sciences fund science fair operations.


2020 - Regeneron became the major sponsor of the International Science and Engineering Fair, which was held virtually that year.


Today - Approximately 1,800 winners of local, regional, state, and national competitions are invited to participate in this week-long celebration of science, technology, engineering, and math. At the event, these young innovators share ideas, showcase cutting-edge research, and compete for more than USD 5 million in awards and scholarships.


ISEF is the largest pre-college science competition in the world.


The Oklahoma State Science and Engineering Fair Program is greatly indebted to faculty and staff at East Central University for their many years of service and dedication, James Young for his personal sacrifice to support STEM opportunities for students in Oklahoma, the vast number of local science educators and regional fair directors who have continued to demonstrate great passion and perseverance, and the various entities at Oklahoma State University working toward offering OSSEF for years to come.

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