Science Fair Projects, by Les Asselstine
Projects provide an authentic opportunity for students to practice and demonstrate the skills of science and technology.
Focus on the ‘journey’ more than the ‘destination’.
Encourage topics that grow from students’ experience and interests.
Anything that interests students can be looked at in either a scientific or technological way. There are no topics that are inherently scientific and some of the most creative projects arise from unusual sources.
Maximize opportunities for success.
Provide guidance in the same way that a coach prepares players for a sporting event. You want to make sure the students benefit from your experience but you also want to ensure that they are ‘playing’ the game and benefiting from the experience.
Remember that participating in a science fair is primarily a learning experience and secondly a competition.
Use questions to guide participation and to assess achievement.
Questions might include:
- How did you decide upon your topic?
- What was your biggest challenge? How did you tackle it?
- What resources did you use and what help did you enlist?
- How is your project different from any other that you have seen or read about?
- In what ways does your project show that you are a good scientist? – engineer?
- How did you ensure that your tests were fair (validity) and your results were reproducible (reliability)?
- What would you do differently if you were starting over again?
- What would you do next if you were going to extend your study?
- How does your work include the skills of language and/or mathematics?
Use these questions to guide your teaching.
What are the most important things I want to share with my students?
How can I make the learning interesting and meaningful?
How can I ensure that the learning is age-appropriate?
How can I respect my students and help them build success upon success?
How can I create a classroom environment where each student feels that she or he is a contributing member of a community of learners?
How can I reflect my knowledge that students vary in interests, abilities, and learning styles?
How can I make sure my assessment and evaluation strategies focus upon the things that are important?
How can I use assessment data to improve learning experiences?
How can I help my students as they prepare for life in a world that we do not know?
Click below for an assessment that includes four statements that provide feedback relating to a project.
By Les Asselstine