Why is the Science Fair Important?
Today I want to encourage you to fully consider why a Science Fair would be an important addition to your homeschool year. For the past 6 years our family has participated in a local science fair for Home Educated students in our state. It has been one of the highlights of our school year. The science fair is an opportunity for the student, and the parent, to take a subject and study it in detail, usually for a scheduled amount of time. The benefits are abounding for the student who participates in a science fair, but first we need to ask and answer some questions that may be on your mind.
What is a science fair project?
Simply, it is a presentation of material that the student has studied and compiled in a variety of ways, usually classified as: an experiment, a demonstration and/or model, a collection, or a research project. The project provides an opportunity to ask questions which require the student to seek answers for the reasons why things are happening in the world around them.
What does the opportunity present for the student?
Through a science fair project our students have a profound opportunity to grow in the following ways:
- Further their knowledge of a specific subject
- Explore a new field of science
- Research, Presentation, and Writing Skills
- Greater understanding of the scientific method
- For the High School Student it is an additional lab credit to add to the transcript.*
*This is based on the amount of time that is invested in the project, with the creation of a lab journal, will be allowed on the high school transcript as a part of a lab credit.
How do I begin?
- Select a topic that is right for you
- The subject has to be one of the most important starting points in any science fair project. Since your student is going to be spending a significant amount of time researching material for this, it is wise to start with a subject that is interesting to them. Think of a topic that interests your child, then help them brainstorm many different ideas that are associated with their topic. Before you know it, you will have an exciting research project just waiting to be started.
TIP: Before you go any further, give your student a research journal to write down everything they are learning. Leave the first few pages blank so that you can give it a title page and a table of contents, later as the project nears completion. Number the pages and have the student hand write all their notes in journal, as well as date each entry when they add them. It is a little like keeping a diary of all they find. You will be teaching diligence, great record keeping skills, and accountability right from the start. It is a must in any science fair project.
II. Ask a Question
- One of the great things about science is depth of the subject matter is so broad and varied that we are often practicing this process without really thinking about it. How do you ask?
o When we observe something, we usually take time to look at it thoroughly, and before long we start collecting questions about it.
- For example: If you are watching an ice cube float in a glass of water, perhaps you may think, “Do other substances float as a solid or do they sink in the same substance when it is a liquid.”
Example of a quick experiment which may create more questions for study:
Fill a glass with ½ c. water and place an ice cube in the glass. Observe what happens and record what you see.
Then melt ½ c. butter in a dish and the put a tablespoon of cold butter on the top of it. Observe what happens and record what you see.
- Did the substances react the same way? Why or why not?
- What do you think makes them react the way they did?
- What do we know about water that makes it unique?
III. Research your topic
- Before you get too far in your analysis, and perhaps even before you start your experiment, research the subject you are learning about. Using the scientific method, of course, we can grow in our study of God’s Creation.
Enjoy a free pdf download: Learning the Scientific Method
- Research is often considered hard or difficult, but it can be as simple as going to the library and getting a few books about the topic. Let me encourage you to go to the children’s section, even for your older students, to give them a chance to grasp the basic ideas before they really begin their research.
- Always be careful where you find your sources and remember to take notes and give credit to the original author of any material you find.
IV. Decide on the type of project
Once you have found a topic, asked a question and researched a little, the next step is to decide what kind of project will fit your topic.
- There are four classic examples, but certainly this list is not exhaustive:
o A Scientific Experiment – this is a controlled test or series of tests which reveals how something works.
o A Scientific Model – the model is a reproduction either by drawing or a 3-dimensional object built to represent a scientific concept, idea, or principle.
o A Scientific Demonstration – the demonstration usually takes the idea of the model a bit further by building a working model which actively demonstrates a scientific concept.
o A Scientific Collection – the collection represents a class of items that are related and present a specific area of scientific study.
Here is an overview of the types of projects outlined in detail. Science Fair Projects
V. Design and complete the project
After you have decided your topic, asked a question, completed some research and then determined the type of project, the next step is to design your project.
- The next steps are important to review and consider as you move forward in your project.
o Make sure you know the steps of the scientific method.
o Design the project in steps: Experiment/Model/Collection, Research, Display Board, Presentation of Material, and Written Report.
o Gather all the necessary materials for the project.
o Get started and have fun!
Please feel free to download the Display Board Guide to help you organize and plan your project display.
Organize a Science Fair with your Friends.
One of the best experiences our students can have is to participate in a science fair with their friends and peers. For the last 7 years I have had the pleasure of coordinating a statewide science fair for the homeshooling families in our area and beyond. It has grown from our first fair, with the families of our small homeschool group, to include families and homeschool groups from all over the upper portion of our state. Each year we are blessed to host the event at a local college who is excited about the students progress and achievement. It has been an encouraging and exciting aspect of our home school year. Many of the students who participate make this a part of their yearlong curriculum with the fair completing the year perfectly.
I encourage you to start with just a few friends, but I am more than willing to walk you through the steps I took to organize the type of program we have come to enjoy here with NIRSF. You can read more about the science fair on the website at: www.ilregionalsciencefair.org.
I have published a Science Fair Syllabus which I hand out as I teach science workshops I teach throughout the school year. This ebook is usually available only with the workshop registration, but as a blessing to Laura’s friends I would be happy to offer for free to anyone who signs up to receive email updates from me on my website at www.journeysingrace.com . This resource will be available on my site for 2 weeks. If you have any trouble receiving the download or subscribing, please email me at[email protected].
Be sure to check out the free science downloads included above, also located in the downloads section on my website. I look forward to hearing from you and your future science explorations!
Grab a cup of your favorite drink and join me on the journey to grace. You will find thoughts and devotions to encourage and equip you for the road ahead as we walk together. www.journeysingrace.com