History and Archives

A Brief History of the Fair

The Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair was preceded by the Cedar Rapids "PTA Science Fair". The two day Fair was held at Cedar Rapids Memorial Coliseum. The EISEF was originally incorporated in 1959 as the "Eastern Iowa Science Fair" and was held at Coe College in Cedar Rapids beginning in 1960.

The Fair moved to Washington High School in Cedar Rapids in 1973 where it was held in the gymnasium and cafeteria. The name changed again to the "Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair" in 1975.

In the 1970s the fair participation (and funding) rose and fell with the national economy. In the early 1980s the fair was condensed to a one day event. The reduction of the Fair to a single day put pressure on the Judging and Awards committees. Their jobs now had to be performed in only a few hours but there was a benefit. There was increased student participation from further out in the state.

The site moved to Westdale Mall in 1984 to take advantage of the public exposure that such a venue offered. The 1984 EISEF was also the first year that personal computers (PCs) were introduced on fair day.

The fair location changed again in 1999 to Lindale Mall when a scheduling conflict was brought to light only months before the Fair.

In 2000–2003, we had enough high schools participating that we could send four senior champions instead of just two to the International Fair (ISEF).

Twice in the 21st Century we’ve responded to pleas from teachers: in 2005 we started accepting senior teams, and in 2007 we started accepting sixth-grade students.


  • Preceded by "PTA Science Fair", Cedar Rapids Memorial Coliseum.
  • 1959: Incorporated as "Eastern Iowa Science Fair".
  • 1960: Held at Coe College, Cedar Rapids.
  • 1973: Moved to Washington High School, Cedar Rapids.
  • 1975: Name changed to "Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair".
  • 1984: Moved to Westdale Mall, Cedar Rapids.
  • 1999: Moved to Lindale Mall, Cedar Rapids.
  • 2000: For the first time, EISEF sent four students (instead of just two) to the International Fair (ISEF).
  • 2001: EISEF website inaugurated.
  • 2005: EISEF started accepting senior teams (grades 9–12).
  • 2007: EISEF started accepting grade 6 students.
  • 2009: EISEF selected its first team project as Senior Champions (Pandy Wadsworth & Yogita Singh from Fairfield).

A Nobel Laureate from EISEF

For those who need to see proof that perseverance pays off, here it is. Thomas Cech of Iowa City participated in the Fair from 1962 through 1966 in both the Junior and Senior Divisions. While he did win various awards during that time he was never the winner of the 1st Place Senior Division award, a trip to the International Science and Engineering Fair. In 1989 however, while working at the University of Colorado at Boulder he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His autobiography. (HistoryAndArchives)

Page last modified on March 27, 2016, at 12:42 AM

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