Fewer students are taking part in school science fairs, says P.E.I. science fair chair Bill Whelan.

Whelan told CBC News fewer than 300 students took part in the provincial science fair in 2013, down 15 per cent from the year before. He described the science fair as an important program for Island students.

"Science fair is really about imagination, creativity and curiosity. So if the student is curious about something, they ask themselves a scientific question, they form a hypothesis, they run some experiments, and then draw conclusions from that data," said Whelan.

"That entire process of working through a science fair project is really helping students develop the skills that employers of today are looking for."

Whelan said more schools are making participation voluntary. There also used to be a regional science fair for the Eastern School District with a paid coordinator. That's now gone with the move to one English Language School Board.

Whelan noted that science fair participation is still higher overall on P.E.I. than elsewhere in Canada.

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