Science fair projects are due at Wallace Elementary School next week. That means our 12-year-old is spending the last couple of days of his Christmas break polishing the report on his project. He’s won the last two years, and intends to repeat that performance this year, even though the results of this year’s project didn’t quite come out the way he expected.
My husband, a retired science teacher, put together this presentation for our school PTA on how to help your child win a science fair — without doing the work for them, or going broke in the process. You can download the PDF of his presentation by clicking here: How to Help Your Child Win a Science Fair by Fred Holland (Note: No login required. I have nothing to sell, so you won’t be asked for your name or email. If you click on the link, you can see the practical tips on helping a child win a science fair on your screen, or download it to read later. Teachers are welcome to download it and reuse it in the classroom or as a handout for parents; if a teacher wants the original PowerPoint to adapt, leave me a message in the comments with your email address, and I’ll send the original file via YouSendIt. My husband always appreciates credit from other teachers, but he’s more interested in getting the word out, so if you think the document would be useful, please use it.)
Take a look at my husband’s presentation, and enjoy the science fair process with your child. You don’t have to be a science wizard — and neither does your child — to get a lot out of a science fair. It’s a great way to practice the problem solving skills that will come in handy in any profession, and we always have a lot of fun with the process.
I paid my way through college (in part) on science fair winnings, six of our 8 grandkids have brought home regional or district “best of the best” trophies over the years — including the two who were in modified or special education classes. (The other two are in schools that don’t participate in regional science fairs.)
Update, January 22, 2014: It’s a 3-peat. For the third year in a row, our sixth-grader Kameron took the grand prize in his school science fair, and will compete in regionals next month. I’m very proud of the 100+ hours of hard work he put in. In the end, winning almost always comes down to being willing to do what other people won’t do — whether that’s using your Christmas break to work extra hard on a science fair project you started three months before it was due, or spending extra hours working on whatever your passion is. Kameron did the work, and earned his prize.
This year’s project includes 48 test samples, 10 days of observations, 8 data tables with more than 288 individual data points, 16 charts and graphs generated on the computer, and four hand-drawn graphs, 50 pages of observations in a lab notebook, and 16 pencil drawings or diagrams, all summarized on a 5′ tall display that explains his experiment and results.
Update February 5, 2014: The regional fair is over. Kameron took second place in his division.