The Future of Science Fairs
The Grout Museum District will convene the Cedar Valley's STEM educators to meet Ike Leighty, Cedar Falls High '34, a science fair winner, and his son Bill Leighty, a forty-year resident of Juneau, Alaska.
Bill will share how his four years' competition, '58 - '61, in the Northeast Iowa Science Fair was a springboard to his engineering career, and an important "rite of passage". Bill will also tell how he, his wife Nancy, a few volunteers and supporters, started the Capital City High School Science Fair in Juneau, AK, nineteen years ago. Now the "Southeast Alaska Regional Science Fair", last year's fair had over 100 individual and team projects, including 150 students, from Juneau and nearby communities. Juneau's fair also includes about 200 mentors, judges, and organizers and sponsors. Now affiliated with the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair, Southeast Alaska students annually travel far to compete with their brilliant peers.
A local Science Fair is even more valuable to a school district, its teachers, and community, than reaching the nascent minds that they steward. Science Fairs help awaken all students to apply their growing knowledge, abilities and interests, to opportunities they'd not imagined -- including business, academics and entrepreneurship.
Bill is a 1961 West Waterloo High School grad, participating in the Northeast Iowa Science Fair at SCI (now UNI) all four high school years, '58-61. He won a Navy Science Cruise award (a week at San Diego Navy bases) as a junior, and a trip to the National Science Fair as a senior. After his BSEE degree from Stanford, Bill worked for Collins Radio Company in Cedar Rapids, Thailand, and Vietnam in '66-69. Back to Stanford for an MBA degree, then off to Alaska where he's lived since '71. Bill's family company, Alaska Applied Science, owns a 700 kW, 14-turbine wind generation plant in Palm Springs, CA, but he spends most of his time pro bono for The Leighty Foundation, co-authoring and presenting research papers, in USA and worldwide, on alternatives to electricity for transmission, firming storage, and supply integration of diverse, large-scale, stranded, renewable energy resources -- especially as hydrogen and ammonia fuels via underground pipelines. His goal is helping us "run the world on renewables", soon, which took him to conferences in Korea and China in October '11.
Bill's father, Ike Leighty, and his partner, Dick Spear, won first place in the 1934 Cedar Falls High School Science Fair, advancing to one of the first Iowa state science fairs, at Drake University, that year.
Average students, Ike and his late partner Joe Nelson, invented the Filter Minder filter life gauge, and built a multi-million-dollar business, Engineered Products Company, to manufacture and sell it. Both Ike's and Joe's early education, experiences, interests, and visions were essential. To learn more visit www.filterminder.com.
Ike also started the The Leighty Foundation in Waterloo, in 1985, to fund his family's diverse philanthropic interests, www.leightyfoundation.org.