How It All Began

In 1976, Frank Hess, Jr., former Director of Community Relations for Gulf Oil Corporation, met with Alfred Morris, then President of The Philadelphia Tribune newspaper. They decided to organize an art contest as a way of bringing the many contributions of Dr. George Washington Carver to the attention of the Philadelphia Public.

In 1977, Thomas Anderson, Jr., then Director of Community Relations at Temple University, joined the Carver movement. Thereafter, he was asked to assume the chairmanship of the fledging organization due to his experience as an elementary public school teacher who taught science and participated in science fairs. He conceived of the science fair to provide and enhance the academic opportunities for Philadelphia public, parochial, and private school students.


In 1979, the George Washington Carver Science Fair came into existence with the assistance of Dr. Bernard Kelner, former Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, School District of Philadelphia, and Reverend Monsignor David Walls, former Vicar of Archdiocesan School District of Philadelphia.

From the very beginning, The Academy of Natural Sciences has been an active partner of the George Washington Carver Science Fair. The fair has been held at The Academy of Natural Sciences since 1979, but due to growth in participation, grades seven through twelve are now held at Temple University. The Academy continues to house the elementary portion of the competition and its awards ceremony.

In 1985, the George Washington Carver Science Fair joined the Delaware Valley Science Fair group, enabling many junior scientists to compete at the regional level. Winning Carver students go on to participate in the annual International Science Fair.

After the untimely death of Mr. Morris, Mr. Thomas Anderson and Mr. Frank Hess continued to work to keep the George Washington Carver Science Fair a living reality. Together they have built strong financial and philosophical support for the fair among corporate and educational sponsors. Since its start in 1979, The George Washington Carver Science Fair has become the premier science fair of Philadelphia County.

Each year, The George Washington Carver Science Fair grows in participant involvement and community interest. Chairperson Anderson, along with the many thousands of supporters who make the fair possible, are ever ready for the new challenges that come with expansion.

Benefits of Participation
Students strive to win first, second, and third place medal, as well as special awards. Winners are encouraged to enter the Delaware Valley Science Fair and other regional and national fairs. The George Washington Carver Science Fair is an opportunity to gain recognition, interact with scientists and educators, and test growing scientific skills. Students may also apply for summer scholarships.

All, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students who participate in the fair can apply for the George Washington Carver Summer Scholars Program at The Academy of Natural Sciences. The young scientists spend the summer studying water and environmental issues, and exploring the Academy's research laboratories.

Parents and guardians help their children pursue an interest in science and gain recognition from the educational and scientific community. The George Washington Carver Science Fair offers opportunities to meet other parents and teachers interested in motivating students in the sciences.

Judges are recruited from a variety of institutions, including scientific, medical, higher education, and corporate - all in the Philadelphia area. Judges also volunteer from the Philadelphia School District as well as neighboring county public school systems. Judges enjoy the satisfaction of helping to motivate young scientists and to build their confidence.

Fair Facts
Participation in The George Washington Carver Science Fair reflects the cultural and economic diversity that is Philadelphia. Hundreds of students, parents, teachers, and judges come together to make the fair one of the largest of its kind in the United States of America. Fourth through sixth graders show their scientific know-how in four categories: Life, Earth, Physical, and Consumer Sciences. Seventh through twelfth graders exhibit in 13 categories, including Biochemistry, Botany, Engineering, Environmental Science, and Zoology.

The science fair is a year-round endeavor. In the fall, teachers, students, and parents attend special orientations to learn about the science fair process. Throughout the year, teachers and sponsors facilitate student investigations. Often individual school science fairs are conducted prior to the Carver Fair. In February judges are selected and attend an orientation on judging criteria and techniques. The Carver Fair itself takes place during the last week in February and the first week in March.

The George Washington Carver Award
Each year at the awards ceremony, the Committee bestows this honor on an individual who has had great impact on the lives of future scientists. This award symbolizes that same intense dedication and creative genius exhibited by Dr. Carver in his constant quest to advance the cause of humanity as a scientist, inventor, sculptor, musician, educator, and a great humanitarian.

Past Recipients of the George Washington Carver Award

1980 Dr. Marion Oliver (University of Pennsylvania)
1981 *Dr. Maurice C. Clifford (Dept. of Health, City of Philadelphia)
1982 Dr. Dennis M. Wint (Academy of Natural Sciences)
1982 *Dr. Frederick M. Hofkin (School District of Philadelphia)
1983 Lt. Guion S. Bluford, Jr. (N.A.S.A.)
1983 Dr. Ruth Patrick (Academy of Natural Sciences)
1984 *Dr. Bernard Kelner (School District of Philadelphia)
1984 Dr. Gloria T. Chisum (Department of the United States Navy)
1985 *Dr. Herman R. Branson (Lincoln University)
1986 Dr. Thomas Peter Bennett (Florida State Museum, Florida)
1986 *Dr. Joseph S. Schmuckler (Temple University)
1987 *Joseph E. Coleman, Esq. (City Council of Philadelphia)
1988 Dr. Constance E. Clayton (School District of Philadelphia)
1989 Dr. Thurman E. Evans (CIGNA Corporation)
1990 Mr. Donald Steinberg (Beaver College)
1991 Dr. Bernard C. Watson (William Penn Foundation)
1992 Mr. Roscoe Draper (Retired Aviator, Pilot/Instructor, Tuskegee Institute)
1993 Dr. Benjamin S. Carson (John Hopkins Hospital)
1994 Mr. Robert McMichael (Hahnemann Medical College)
1994 Mr. Richard C. Tolbert (Mellon/PSFS Bank)
1995 Mr. Derrick H. Pitts (Franklin Institute of Philadelphia)
1995 Dr. Marquette L. Cannon-Babb (Temple University School of Pharmacy)
1996 Dr. Curtis D. Howard (National Science Foundation)
1998 *Dr. Deborah Partridge Wolfe (Queens College, New York)
1999 Dr. William Henson (Pennsylvania State University)
2000 Dr. Trevor E. Sewell (Temple University)
2000 Mr. David W. Hornbeck (School District of Philadelphia)
2001 Mrs. Carole Williams-Green (Cobbs Creek Commun. Environ. Edu. Ctr)
2003 Mr. *Samuel L. Evans (Chair./Founder AFNAñNatíl. Edu. & Research Founda.)
2004 Dr. Ellen Ochoa (National Aeronautics and Space Administration -A NASA)
2005 Dr. John Helferty (Temple University)
2006 Mrs. Ambra B. Hook (School District of Philadelphia)
2007 Mr. Paul G. Vallas, C.E.O. (School District of Philadelphia)

2008 Mr. James R. Kennedy (School District of Philadelphia)
2009 Mr. Tyraine Ragsdale (Grand Hank Productions)
2010 Mr. Simon Hauger (School District of Philadelphia)
2011 Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr. (Astronaut)

2012 Ms. Judith Summers-Gates (Chemist, Federal Drug Administration)
2013 Dr. Sharon Haynie (Research Chemist, DuPont)
2014 Dr. James E. West (Inventor, John Hopkins University)