Terra Fairs play a key role regionally and beyond as we strive to create a world that draws upon the potential of every person to make a positive difference in the world.
Through its network of seven New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania regional science and engineering fairs, Terra Science and Education provides middle and high school students the opportunity to engage in authentic scientific research or engineering practice and to share their experiences and findings with others in an ISEF-affiliated science and engineering fair.
Through our support of educators, families and students with a focus on STEM, Terra works tirelessly to meet the educational needs of the underserved and under-represented, including women in STEM. While we concentrate on our 40 science fair counties, many of our resources are available to the general public regardless of geography.
Terra Fairs are affiliated with the international STEM fairs ISEF and GENIUS Olympiad. Terra fully funds selected finalist projects and students from its affiliated and partner fairs to attend ISEF or GENIUS Olympiad for exceptional international and scientific experiences.
Terra’s stateside Terra Fairs include the following. They serve grades 5-12 unless otherwise noted.
Terra Science and Education also manages two international fairs serving students in grades 5-12 – Terra Americans Abroad STEM Fair (TAASF) and Terra International Students STEM Fair (TISSF) – which coordinate with other Terra Fairs for access to ISEF.
Terra Science and Education is also the sponsor of the following ISEF-affiliated regional fair as the Terra Partner Fair:
Terra Science and Education even funds teachers and schools in the counties its fairs serve.
As Terra Fairs, ISEF-affiliated regionals simply add “Terra” to the front of your name and continue as before with your Fair Committee members and Fair Director(s). Terra pays ISEF affiliation fees, covers expenses for your selected finalists, and provides chaperonage for the Terra Fairs party of students. Additional benefits include each Fair Codirector receiving a stipend of $1000 plus Terra staff support of the fair committee with marketing, student recruitment, website maintenance, a secure project application process, liability insurance for the fair, printing services, full Fair Day support, special awards and gifts for students and judges, and more.
Our experienced staff will make sure that your fair committee members receive all the support they need throughout the year and will attend your meetings as needed to provide that support.
Terra Science and Education is an active innovator and sponsor of project-based STEM K-16 education through its diverse programs. Terra has made a long-term commitment to support internationally-affiliated science and engineering fairs. Terra consistently advocates for expanding youth experiences, supporting quality teaching, and affirming individuals with the passion to make a difference in their world.
Terra’s extensive experience in creating and organizing regional and international science and engineering fairs helps us understand that organizing a regional fair is a big undertaking. Therefore, Terra values those who volunteer their time in such efforts. However, it also knows that without much support, volunteers may burn out, leading to frequent turnover in fair committee membership or reduced funding and student participation.
Terra founded the TNRSEF in 2016 with a success of 50+ projects presenting on Fair Day, securing its affiliation with ISEF in its first year. In 2017, Terra founded the new TRFSEF after its predecessor fair closed. We quadrupled the region’s number of projects and volunteers within two years. The first ISEF affiliate in NYS – the Dutchess County Regional Science Fair – became our Partner in 2019, and the NYC STEM Fair affiliated with us in 2021. Due to our existing infrastructure and staff experience and despite COVID-19, Terra organized successful online fairs in 2020, 2021 and 2022. TNJSF’s affiliation with Terra Fairs begins with its 2023 fair.
If you are interested in becoming a Terra Fair, removing the pressures of funding and organization support, while keeping your regional fair committee and director in charge, please contact us at [email protected]
To see all to be gained by becoming a Terra Fair, please review the Benefits Document.
Terra Science and Education was founded in 2011 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization for the improvement of K–16 education through consulting, scholarships, research, new program development, and public forums.
Terra consistently keeps its general management expenses (MGE) below 10%, which is below the national average of 14-18% for nonprofits.
Terra’s educational programming is open to both local public and private schools across the state. Terra creates opportunities for students and educators, building a “glocal” culture by incorporating international partnerships.
Terra is always looking for and open to new programs and partnerships which can enhance the educational experience for students worldwide. Please contact us to discuss your needs and new programming to help you.
Terra is a proud founder and organizer of GENIUS Olympiad, which brings high school students from around the globe to a college campus to solve environmental problems.
Terra STEM Fairs program sponsors and aids in the management of five regional science and engineering fairs in Buffalo, Olean, Potsdam, Poughkeepsie and Rochester, NY.
Our other opportunities for students include SAT Prep courses, college fairs and scholarships to students at selected schools.
For educators, Terra organizes and sponsors the “Transforming Urban Education” conference series each fall in Syracuse, NY, facilitates two teacher fellowship programs, and provides over $40,000 annually in grants as capacity building grants for schools serving New York State students.
Educators can encourage their students to submit their research to Terra’s peer-reviewed publication the International Journal of High School Research. The IJHSR brings real scientific publication experience to high school students, preparing them to become better scientists.
Terra partners with Gerace Research Center of University of Bahamas to offer week-long residential hands-on marine biology experience for educators and students around the world in Sal Salvador, Bahamas.
In addition, with its signature IRC programming, Terra can connect educators and high school students around the world with their US counterparts to perform collaborative research and visit each other in their countries for cultural exchange.
Terra recently created ACASU, the American Council for Accreditation of Schools and Universities, to evaluate schools abroad by understanding their needs and creating a customized strategy to lead schools through the accreditation process for a better alignment to United States higher education standards.
Terra Science and Education now partners with the international STEM Learning Ecosystem network. STEM Learning Ecosystems gathers key STEM educational stakeholders to collaborate with each other to improve STEM instruction in their communities for students and lifelong learners in a mutually beneficial relationship which helps to stimulate local economies. STEM Learning Ecosystems members include school districts, colleges and universities, museums, educational nonprofits, businesses, and other educational stakeholders. Partners use their shared resources to develop STEM programs in their local areas.
To learn more about Terra Science and Education and its programs, please visit its main website at terraed.org
Dr. Damkaci is the founder and the executive of Terra Science and Education. He is an experienced Professor of Organic Chemistry with a demonstrated leadership experience in STEM teaching, program development, grant writing, recruitment, STEM outreach, and management. He is a strong leadership professional with an Executive Leadership Certificate on Non-profit management from Harvard University School of Business, Certificate on Higher Education Administration from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and a Certificate focused on Public Diplomacy, Leadership, and Management from Syracuse University School of Maxwell. Dr. Damkaci has received several recognitions for his service, teaching, research as well as cultural activities, and these recognitions include SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service, Oswego President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Oswego President’s Award for Excellence in Research, Oswego Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship, and International Educator Award from International Center of Syracuse.
Karen Valentino is the primary contact for operation (i.e., Finance, Human Resources, etc.) and marketing inquiries as well as those related to the grant, scholarship, and fellowship programs. She is part of the management team at our regional science fairs, conferences, grants, and annual Genius Olympiad. She has more than twenty years of higher education experience in college teaching and management of programs committed to student learning and success. She was Assistant Provost for Special Projects at SUNY Oswego and directed major NSF and DoE grants to support success of diverse transfer students and to implement special programs to increase retention rates in STEM programs. As Visiting Assistant Professor of Geology, Karen instructed courses in natural hazards, geology and environmental science at SUNY Oswego and Jefferson Community College. She holds a M.S. in Material Science and Engineering from Virginia Tech and a B.S. in Geology from Temple University.
Dr. Beal is the primary contact for Bahamas, ACASU, GENIUS Olympiad, and professional services (grant writing, PD) and IJHSR Journal. He is also part of the management team at our regional science fairs, conferences, and grants. Dr. Richard Beal was the Assistant Dean of K-12 STEM Education and Director of ESF in the High School at State University of New York ESF for almost 20 years before joining Terra. He was also an Adjunct Associate Professor in Environmental and Forest Biology. Rick was the Director at Large of Environmental Science for the Science Teachers Association of New York. Rick received a B.S. degree in biochemistry from SUNY Buffalo in 1991 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the same institution in 1997. He was a Peace Corps teacher in Eritrea (East Africa) from 1997 to 1998 and a Fulbright Scholar in Cambodia Fall 2016. He specializes in University Teaching and Outreach, STEM Education, and University Partnerships and does extensive consulting in the Middle East on educational reform projects.
Ryan Smith supports regional science fairs, summer STEM camps, and other K-12 Terra initiatives. Before becoming a team member at Terra, Ryan worked as a long-term substitute teacher, teaching both at the middle school and high school levels. Ryan received both his B.Sc. in Biochemistry and M.Sc. in Chemistry from the State University of New York at Oswego. While attending there, he earned an outstanding leadership award and an outstanding teaching assistant award. Ryan also was a volunteer with the Hall Newman Center as both a faith formation teacher and the Retreat Coordinator, serving many parishes in the Syracuse dioceses.
Mary Wood is the primary contact for Terra Regional STEM fairs and for its affiliates, Terra Fair Fellowships, and MakerHallsSM program showing at schools. She is part of the management team at conferences, grants, and annual Genius Olympiad. An educator and nonprofit director with decades of experience in grassroots organizing, STEM advocacy, and science and engineering fair development, Mary Eileen has been the bridge in providing funding and educational support to our Terra Fairs network of regional science and engineering fairs. She has extensive prior experience in K-12 teaching, outreach activities for K-12 schools in CNY region, non-profit management focusing on STEM engagement and regional STEM fair development.
Bekir Turkkan is an IT professional who has experience in network systems and web and software development. He directs all IT projects, including deployment of new websites, website securities, and also directs TEDS program, which is an educational software development project developed by Terra. He has been helping Terra since 2011 on a volunteer capacity for its IT, web, and software needs. He joined Terra in 2019 as a part-time basis to provide more consistent help as our needs increased with the size of programs, staff, and office. Bekir is also part of the management team of GENIUS Olympiad.
Dr. Harold Clark recently retired from the Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester, NY, where he was Senior Director for STEM Learning & Community. He had previously worked at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ, where he directed a team 20 STEM Educators and at AT&T/Lucent Technologies/Bell Laboratories, where he led initiatives in manufacturing systems engineering, supply chain management, and prior to that, conducted R&D in the manufacturing of optical fibers and photonic/optoelectronic devices. Dr. Clark has a Ph.D. in Materials Science from MIT and an A.B., magna cum laude, in Engineering & Applied Physics from Harvard College.
Yvette has been with the ISEF affiliated NYC science fair since 2007. One of her greatest memories of the fair was hosting President Obama at the NYC Finals Round in 2011. She is an advocate for all things students and passionate about helping them gain access to experiential programs on all levels of education.
Daniel Sadowsky is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. In addition to teaching, he conducts research on the use of computational methods in chemistry and environmental science. He completed both a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.A. in Music at the University of Delaware, as well as a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Minnesota. Before moving to Bradford, he worked as a researcher at ETH Zurich and EPFL Lausanne in Switzerland.
A member of the International Science and Engineering Fair SRC, she has held managerial positions in NYC’s Science Fairs since 1997. With a Science Education and School Administration background, she taught Science Research, was an Assistant Principal in NYC Public Schools and taught Science Education at Fordham University. Ms. Appel published one book and created science curricula for the NYCDOE and the American Museum of Natural History.
Dr. Murphy received her Ph.D. in Microbiology from New York University in 1974. During her 35-year research career in academia, biotech, and the pharmaceutical industry, she published over 80 peer-reviewed papers on bacterial replication, antibiotic resistance, and vaccine development. Now retired, she has participated in the New York City Science Fair as a judge since 2009 and as a member of the Scientific Review Committee since 2015.
Please communicate directly with your region’s fair director, unless you have a general question.
Email (Potsdam Fair Directors): [email protected]
Email (Rochester Fair Directors): [email protected]
Email (NY City Fair Directors): [email protected]
Email (Twin Tiers Fair Directors): [email protected]
Email (North Jersey Fair Directors): [email protected]
Email (Western New York Fair Director): [email protected]
Email (Americans Abroad Fair Director): [email protected]
Email (International Students Fair Director): [email protected]
Email (Terra Fairs Management): [email protected]
Email (Terra Science and Education): [email protected]
Office Hours: M-F 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. US-EST
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