This year, I have had several people ask me if I had any ideas about Science Fairs. I have always loved the idea of Science Fair and Family Evenings. There are great ways to pull in the community, guest speakers and rich opportunities for students to show what they know. Unfortunately, Science Fair can also turn into a strict set of rules that takes away from students thinking and creativity. We also know that when Science Fair becomes a homework assignment it can turn into Mom & Dad’s Greatest Hits.
How then, can we use Science Fair to engage students, families and the community in Science and STEM experiences?
The starting point should be in clearly defining the purpose for Science Fair. And, let’s be honest, if the purpose is to regurgitate “the scientific method”, we should cancel the Science Fair. We need to blow the dust off the traditional “find a project online, follow someone else’s steps, build the same tri-fold as every other student”. Rather, let’s consider the purpose as being a way to engage families and the community. Or a challenge to student inventors. Or participation in a school-wide theme, such as solving a problem in a fairy tale. Once the purpose has been set, you’re ready to organize the Science Fair.
With NGSS in mind, let me suggest promoting two options for students – a science investigation or an engineering challenge. Connecting to the Science & Engineering Practices provides a context for students to ask authentic questions, develop their own process, analyze their data or efficiency and communicate their results.
Check out more of my ideas and some excellent resources I found here: