21 Jan
2014
Posted in: projects
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Tips for Science Fair Projects

Our boys’ elementary school holds a science fair every January for kindergarten through 5th grade. It’s optional for students to complete science fair projects, except 4th and 5th graders. A science fair project is part of the secondary students’ science grade. All three boys have completed projects each year they’ve been in school. I’ve kept every science fair project board…all nine…soon to be 12.

Ship Shape science fair project

The last two years with three kiddos doing projects at the same time has been a lesson in extreme patience and organization. If you’ve watched a third grader painstakingly type, you understand the extreme patience part. So many times in the last two weeks I’ve fought to not jump in and do it myself. I already know how to type though, so that’s not teaching him anything except that his mom does not have time for this. I’ve mastered being within earshot for help but not hovering. You go crazy if you hover.

Carrot science fair project

5 reasons our kids do science fair projects

  1. Working through the scientific method is a good life skill and applies to more than just science. Science fair projects have taught our children how to research what they don’t know.
  2. I have a better understanding of how my children think from listening to them struggle through understanding what they’ve researched and discovered.
  3. Constructing a science fair project display board teaches children how to make their thoughts clear and concise. They also learn the power of aesthetics, design and neatness to convey a message.
  4. All students at our school talk to the judges about their projects. Being able to make eye-contact, speak clearly and verbalize thoughts are more life skills, which only come with practice.
  5. Science is fun. I have witnessed each of my children shocked at the outcome of an experiment. I cherish those moments when I can see their world get a little bigger by gaining knowledge.

Handwritten procedure section on a science fair project

Tips for science fair projects

  1. Allow plenty of time to complete the projects….lots of time.
  2. Be prepared to have your patience tested. Remember this is your child’s science fair project. You’re there for guidance. Allow them to struggle for answers and connections in their data. Intervene to do things that just aren’t safe for them to do alone, otherwise, take a step back and see what they can do.
  3. Teach your child it’s alright to be wrong. I’ve seen our children be disappointed that their hypothesis (guess at the outcome) wasn’t correct. Sometimes you’ll be wrong, and that’s OK.
  4. Most science fairs are a competition with judging and scoring. Stress to your child that the point of a science fair project is gaining knowledge, not winning a medal. Prizes are a bonus for the hard work put into the project.
  5. Make sure the topic is one your child has picked. If he/she isn’t interested, the process will seem longer than needed.
  6. Have the child do age-appropriate tasks. A kindergartener isn’t able to use a computer to make a graph or type. The younger, primary age children are working on printing and sentence structure. Help younger children learn new words, how to write neatly and the art of getting their thoughts on paper. Intermediate and secondary age children are capable of typing and giving more written details on their display boards.
  7. Take photos when appropriate. Some observations are visually telling.
  8. Give the child options for decorating a display board. I pick up items at The Dollar Tree to use on the boards like ribbon, big letters, and scrapbook paper.

Carrot photos for a science fair project

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