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Professional Development Science Fair Handbook
by Anthony D. Fredericks, Ed.D.

 

Introduction

Science fairs can be exciting and magnificent affairs. They provide wonderful opportunities for children to examine and explore a host of scientific questions and a wealth of science topics. They expand classroom concepts into the daily lives of students and underscore the impact science has in all our lives.

An individual science fair project can be a presentation of an experiment, a demonstration, a research effort, a collection of scientific items, or a display of a scientific apparatus. It represents the efforts of a student's long-term investigation into some area of interest and provides a way for the student to showcase the results of the investigation. A science fair project is a unique way for students to pose questions for which they must seek out answers and to satisfy their own curiosity about the world around them. It is a venture into the world of scientific research that goes beyond lessons in the classroom or chapters in a book. Through the development of science fair projects, students gain a first-hand appreciation of the work of scientists and the value of their discoveries. Projects allow students to experiment, make decisions, form and re-form hypotheses, test and examine ideas, seek solutions, and most important, learn more about themselves and their world. Most children are often enthusiastic and excited about pursuing a science fair project; yet, it is not unusual for that exhilaration to wane as the actual science fair approaches. In the end, parents are frequently "recruited" to complete designated projects. Insufficient planning by students in concert with inadequate attention to details often results in projects quickly assembled one or two nights before the science fair and hastily packed off to the school auditorium or gymnasium. A proliferation of baking soda and vinegar volcanoes and solar system models constructed with Styrofoam® balls attests to the lack of creativity or forethought in many science fairs throughout the country.

The following pages are designed to provide you with ideas, strategies, and techniques which will make a planned science fair a pleasant and enjoyable part of your classroom or school science program. These suggestions, however, are not inviolable-you are encouraged to modify and alter these ideas in conjunction with the resources and time available to you and your students. Above all, the success of your science fair will be largely dependent upon the partnership you establish with your students. Inviting them to suggest relevant strategies and ideas also will enhance the overall success of a science fair. This invitational approach is a critical factor in making this experience a most valuable one for all your students.

Science Professional Development
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