Glue sticks? Baking soda and vinegar? Late-night run to the drug store for a forgotten poster board? It must be science fair season!
roots dating back to 1928, science fairs have long promoted the study and pursuit of science for children. Nearly one hundred years later, science fairs are still a great way for scientists of all ages to research new topics and share scientific knowledge in a community setting.
What are the benefits of science fairs?
10 million students participate in science fairs annually in the United States. These projects provide students with powerful learning opportunities to combine science, math, language arts, critical thinking, engineering, and communication skills as they explore a topic of interest. Science fairs promote active learning, science literacy, increased confidence, and curiosity. For older students, science fairs also set the stage for advanced research skills they will encounter at the university level and beyond.
As students research and prepare for a science fair, they naturally engage with
science and engineering practices aligned with state standards and NGSS. Science fairs allow students to conduct research and learn how to cite online and in-person sources using books, documents, and the Internet. These fairs also let students activate prior knowledge and get hands-on with experiments to record and observe phenomena.
What are common obstacles to science fairs?
Whether at the state, regional, or school level, science fairs have become a tradition in many communities. But for many students — and their parents — science fairs can be overwhelming. A science fair entry involves selecting a topic, gathering materials, finding time to perform a long-term experiment, and organizing information in a clear format. Without a clear understanding of the scientific process, students can be confused about the best place to start. As a result, a science fair project can become a parent-led endeavor instead of a student-driven presentation, which causes frustration for both parties. Not to mention, teachers can tell right away which science fair projects were created by adults!
Tips for science fair success
How can teachers and parents help students have a successful science fair experience? Teachers can ensure students are familiar with the scientific method. The process will not be overwhelming or intimidating if hands-on classroom activities follow the structure that students must follow for the science fair. Parents and teachers can guide students to select age-appropriate projects and help them plan how to explore their ideas, collect data, and present their results.
Preparation is key, from presentation notes to the tri-fold poster board. Start early, shop for all necessary supplies, and encourage students to use notecards to rehearse their science fair findings.
Elementary science fair project ideas
Even the littlest learners can participate in the science fair fun! Science4Us gives K-2 students a head-start in STEM with literacy-infused modules covering Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth & Space Science. Explore these science fair ideas that align with Science4Us curriculum.