Our History 

Do you know who George Washington Carver is? Learn more about Carver and his life

In 1976, Frank Hess, Jr., the former director of community relations for the Gulf Oil Corporation, met with Alfred Morris, then the president of the Philadelphia Tribune newspaper, 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. 

Thomas Anderson, the co-founder of the George Washington Carver Science Fair, left a legacy of instilling a passion for science for thousands of children and youth in Philadelphia and the surrounding regions.

In 1977, Anderson served as a former Associate Vice President at Temple University’s Office of Community Relations (now known as the Office of Community Affairs and Engagement). During his time as an employee he co-founded a commemorative program that evolved into the science fair. As a former teacher, he was passionate about ensuring that young people were introduced to science.

“Someone has to do it for the kids,” said Anderson. “It’s the love of my life and  it became a part of me.”

In his tenure many Carver winners would place at other regional fairs and several Carver contestants would pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) majors in college.

Anderson was devoted to the fair and served as director until he died in 2019.​

Thomas Anderson, the co-founder of the George Washington Carver Science Fair is pictured on the left.

In 1979, the George Washington Carver Science Fair was started with the assistance of Dr. Bernard Kelner, the former assistant superintendent for curriculum of the School District of Philadelphia, and in partnership with the 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 had been held at The Academy of Natural Sciences since 1979, but due to growth in participation, grades seven through 12 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, which allowed many junior scientists to compete at the regional level. The winning Carver students go on to participate in the annual International Science Fair.

Frank Hess continued to work to keep the George Washington Carver Science Fair a living reality after the untimely deaths of Morris and Anderson. Together they built strong financial and philosophical support for the fair among corporate and educational sponsors. Hess died on April 17, 2012. 

Since its start in 1979, the George Washington Carver Science Fair has become the premier science fair of Philadelphia County. Each year, the fair grows in participant involvement and community interest. The many thousands of supporters who make the fair possible, are ready for the new challenges that come with expansion.

Fair Facts 

Participation in the George Washington Carver Science Fair reflects the cultural and economic diversity in Philadelphia. Hundreds of students, parents, teachers, and judges come together each year to make the fair one of the largest of its kind in the U.S. 

Fourth through sixth graders display their scientific knowledge in four categories: life, earth, physical and consumer sciences. Seventh through 12th graders exhibit in 15 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 fair. In February, judges are selected and attend an orientation on judging criteria and techniques. The fair takes place during the last week in February and the first week in March.