Yes, Your Family Can Survive
The School Science Fair Project!
The dreaded Science Fair Project... sooner or later, your family will have to face it. And, yes it is most definitely a family
You thought all of those dioramas were bad? Did you complain about the research papers, book reports and clay models? Those were nothing compared to this!
My daughter's first science fair was quite an experience, let me tell you. What made it even more unforgettable was that I was a judge! So, not only did I have to suffer through weeks of my daughter's project, I had to spend an entire day looking at, discussing and judging other students' projects as well!
Between that experiences and being a teacher, I have a learned a few things about science fair projects.
Please share these tips with your own children!
How to Survive the School
Science Fair Project
- Start Early. You've heard this a million times before, but it bears repeating. Start early, start early, start early! Matter of fact, start working on it the same day (or weekend) that you get the assignment. Hee is more advice about managing your time and projects in general.
Listen to Your Teacher. Your teacher will probably give you a handout with a list of websites for science project ideas. Look there first! First of all, you will be able to get that early start we were talking about.
Secondly, your teacher is recommending those sites because they are safe, proven, and if you lose your information (gasp!) you'll know where to find everything.
If the teacher gives you actual project ideas, really consider doing one of them! Talk about a stamp of approval! And, your teacher will be able to give super-helpful advice if you do one of these familiar projects.
Worried about doing the same project as another student? Don't! It rarely happens, and even if it does, your personal perspective and individuality will shine through!
Think Hard about Partners. You and your best friend have decided to work together and do one, perfect, huge, award-winning project? It's going to be so much fun, right? Getting together, brainstorming, collecting and compiling data?
Uh, it probably won't happen. What is more likely to happen is that one of you ends up doing all of the work at the last minute. Or, one of you completely takes over the entire thing.
My advice: get a science fair or two under your belt, then do one with a partner.
Choose Your Own Project. You are going to be spending a lot of time working on this thing, believe me. Pick a topic that you want to study in-depth, something that answers a question you truly want to know. Do not let anybody convince you to choose a project because you will get a good grade (no guarantee!) or it is something they want to do.
Be Sensible. I saw this over and over again when I judged my daughter's fair: students chose projects that were too involved, too hard- just too much! They were overwhelmed, and it showed in the end.
It is better to choose a science fair project this is at or a little below your grade/reading/math level than one that is far above it.
Do a bang up! job on a simple project. Understand the research and be able to explain your hypothesis and results. Don't be fooled into thinking that you will figure it all out later. And, no one will be impressed with a project that you can't explain.
Check out this science fair project site. The projects are rated by grade and difficulty level (and it is a great source for ideas).
One of the best ways to make certain that you sound like an expert...
Be Independent. Yes, you will probably need help, advice and suggestions from your parents. Please, do yourself a favor and listen to what they have to say. But, remember, it is YOUR project! Try to do as much of it on your own as possible.
I know, some other students sit back while their parents do their entire projects for them. It may not feel fair, but in the end they are cheating themselves. Those students are missing out on learning and growing. You, on the other hand, are facing challenges, overcoming obstacles- preparing yourself for LIFE!
Best of all, you will feel so proud of yourself when you look at your finished project and know that YOU DID IT YOURSELF!
Make It Shine. You can do a million hours of research and have the best science fair project in the world, but if you don't present it well, nobody will know (or care).
Presentation is everything! Your presentation board should be neat, clean, sharp and easy-to-read:
- Don't make anyone have to search for your hypothesis, materials, procedure, and results.
- Clearly label everything.
- Even boring information looks interesting and important when it is inside a border. Put one around the entire project and anything that you want to highlight.
- Unless you have won awards for your handwriting, use the computer.
- Use simple fonts. (Remember, old people will be judging this!)
- Keep the colors and decorations to a minimum.
- Make it "pop" by using dark letters (those stick-on ones look great) on a light background.
Now, that wasn't so bad, was it? Before you know it, you'll be a Science Fair Project Expert Family!