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How-To's for the Successful Science Fair

Planning and coordinating a science fair can be an exciting (and nerve-testing) experience. Successful science fairs demand both time and energy; nevertheless, the payoffs can be tremendous: students who gain an increased awareness of the importance of science in their lives and are able to investigate areas of interest that add to that knowledge base. Here are some suggestions you may wish to consider in preparing students for a science fair.

A) The reward is in the doing.

It should be emphasized to students that the object of the science fair is not to win a first place trophy or a blue ribbon, but rather to participate. Teachers can ignite student interest by emphasizing that everyone who enters receives some form of recognition-whether it be in the form of a letter of appreciation or an announcement in the local newspaper. Everyone who enters wins.

B) Tie the fair into other subjects.

A science fair can and should be an integral part of the entire elementary curriculum. For example, writing the project report can be a continuing language arts activity. Use of science trade books within and throughout the reading program is a natural extension. Math skills can be reinforced through the measurement or estimation of project amounts and quantities. A "whole curriculum" approach maximizes interest, increases participation, and underscores the significance of this event as a cross-curricular effort.

So, in preparing for a multiage instructional environment, good curriculum planning is essential. The time spent will help insure rewarding experiences for students.

C) Involve the whole school.

Work with other individuals in the school to provide a team approach to the science fair. For example, the librarian can prepare a special display of books about science experiments, famous scientists, scientific information, or literature with science themes. Invite colleagues to visit your classroom to share science-related hobbies or areas of interest.

D) Engage the community.

Students should be encouraged to promote the science fair beyond the school. For example, students can:

  • Create a classroom or school newsletter and distribute it through local businesses.
  • Design special letters and notes for parents.
  • Send invitations to school administrators or other community leaders.
  • Write news releases about the fair and send them to the local newspaper.
  • Extend invitations to local scientists or college professors to visit classrooms.
  • Invite parents and community members to bring in rock collections, telescopes, vacation slides, or other science-related items to share with your class.

E) Keep parents informed.

For many parents, the thought of an impending science fair can be intimidating, to say the least. It is important to let parents know that you are eager to work with them to ensure the success of the science fair for all students. For example, special newsletters can be prepared and sent home on a regular basis, and parents can be called periodically with offers of assistance in project preparation.

F) Establish a timetable and stick to it.

The major factor in most unsuccessful science fair projects is lack of proper planning. This handbook offers an 8-week timetable to ensure that students allot enough time for sufficient investigation into their respective areas of interest. Students and parents need to understand that science projects must be investigated and constructed over a period of time.

G) Keep it exciting; make it fun!

Above all, demonstrate by your own attitude that science fair projects are fun. Your approach to the fair goes a long way toward ensuring its success.

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