Dr. Henry Brouwer Redeemer University College. Organizing Science Fairs. Objectives of a Science Fair. For the Students: Teach students how to do an independent research project Provide students with an opportunity to study a topic they are interested in
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For the Students:
Teach students how to do an independent research project
Provide students with an opportunity to study a topic they are interested in
Generate a greater appreciation for the wonders of God’s creation
Teach the students communication skills and critical thinking skills
For the School:
Give the school a method to highlight the science program in the community
Encourage students who are gifted in science to compete on a province-wide level
Improve the school science program
5-6 Months Before Science Fair:
Appoint a Science Fair Committee
A Science Fair is a school event, not just an individual teacher’s project
Delegate the work associated with the Science Fair
Committee may consist of teachers and interested parents
One person should be the overall coordinator
Areas of responsibility
Setting up and taking down
5-6 Months Before Science Fair:
Establish a date for the local fair
Should be at least three weeks prior to the regional science fair
Gives students time to make changes
Regional science fair organizers need time to plan and coordinate their event
Reserve the necessary facilities
Introduce the Science Fair to the students early – in the fall if the science fair is in the spring
Students need time to get ideas, plan their project, design experiments
Note to parents re: purpose of Science Fair, their role. Timeframe, etc.
Notebook dedicated to Science Fair project
Establish deadlines for students
E.g. selection of topic
Design of experiments
Doing actual experimental work (data collection)
3-4 Months Before Science Fair:
Provide students with pictures/slides/video or previous science fair projects
Ask librarian or resource person to talk to students about doing a project
Present rules and regulations to students re: projects
Determine whether students are to work individually or in pairs
2 Months before:
Ask parents, community members, other teachers, etc. to serve as judges
Do not have to be science specialists
Ensure that there are enough judges
Provide judges with judging criteria
Show students a sample write-up of project
1 Month Before:
Advertise Science Fair in local papers, school newsletter, churches
Confirm that the necessary facilities are booked
Determine what is needed (e.g. tables, electrical outlets)
Arrange for other classes to view the science fair displays
Make sure students have projects completed
Arrange for refreshments for judges
Confirm list of judges
Remind staff of schedule for the science fair
Assign students their project numbers
Have sufficient judging forms
Prepare judging forms with project number, project title, student name(s)
Set up tables, chairs for project displays
Provide electricity for those projects that need it
Arrange for supervision of the display area
Review all projects to ensure that the safety guidelines have been met
The BIG Day!
Judges should first judge projects without the students present
Students should be at their projects for the second half of the judging process to be interviewed by the judge
Judges should meet to discuss the best projects
The BIG Day!
Open displays to rest of the classes; best to have one class at a time view the projects
Students can be asked to write a report on specific topics
Open House for parents and community in the evening
Recognition of top projects
Within a few Days After:
Students take down their projects, clean up (either day of or next day)
Prepare an article on Science Fair for local paper, school newsletter
Evaluate process with committee; note changes that should be made
Thank judges for their participation
Choosing a topic is often the most difficult aspect of a science fair for students, teachers and parents
Topic should be one that the student is interested in
Parents and teachers should approve the topic before the student puts too much work into it
KEEP A RECORD OF WORK DONE IN A NOTEBOOK DEDICATED TO THE PROJECT!
The best science fair projects are those that involve doing an experiment; demonstrations and reports generally do not reach the top
A simple, well-designed experiment should answer a question or lead to further knowledge
A good project will also elicit further questions
Discussion with parents, friends, family
Books and magazines
General discussion in classroom to get students thinking
Hints of possible topics while teaching
Many different web sites to get ideas:
Hints on organizing the science fair project, list of topics
Provides a list of broad categories and then gives examples of specific questions relating to the topic
Energy efficiency of automobile
Topic itself is far too general; needs to be more specific
How does the shape of a car affect its efficiency?
Build models of different shaped cars and find some way to test the drag on the shape
Study to examine relationship between the mass of a vehicle and published fuel efficiency data
What determines the rate at which plants grow?
Again a rather general topic; very common type of project
More specific: what effect will elevated CO2 levels have on plant growth?
Requires careful design of experiment (control and variables); method of monitoring CO2
Relevant in our current situation with increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere
Does an electromagnetic field have an impact on living organisms?
Be more specific by asking “How does exposure of seeds to a high voltage affect the germination rate?” or “Does a strong magnetic field affect the growth of bacteria?”
Students need to carefully design their experiments with controls and variables
Must figure out a way of generating a safe, high voltage or to produce a strong magnetic field
Experiments must be carefully designed to take into consideration variables and controls
Students need to recognize that the effect measured is due to what they say it is
Must keep careful records of all their work, including what did not work!
Experiment Students would design and perform actual tests or experiments to verify or disprove a hypothesis. An experiment involves using both controls and variables in order to attribute changes to specific causes. Students would also be expected to clearly describe their observations and state their conclusions, based on the evidence obtained in the experiment.
Study Projects are assigned to this category if they report on information or data from published sources or collected by the students themselves. A study may also involve taking existing data and evaluating them in a new and fresh way. An excellent study is more than just reporting information from textbooks or encyclopedias! It involves an analysis of information or data collected by the student or by others
Innovation This category involves taking some existing technology and adapting it in a unique way to a new situation. It might, for instance, involve writing a computer program to do something currently not available. Or it might involve designing a robot to perform a specific function. This category could also include construction of a model to illustrate a complex scientific concept; however, the model should be more than a replicate of what is already available.
Students must keep a separate notebook for their project
Includes ideas considered and how they arrived at their final topic
Date each entry
Include references to all sources in their daily journal
Include their own analysis of what they learned e.g. was it helpful? How could they use it?
Include sketches of experimental set-up; ideas for improving experiment
Record results of experiments, discuss the significance and possibly include ideas to try out next time
Basically, a notebook is a record of all the work done for the project
A good notebook will also help the student in writing the final report
An abstract is a short summary of the project, highlighting the most important aspects
Provides a summary of what was done and what was observed along with the conclusion reached
An abstract enables the reader to decide whether or not the project is of interest
An Example of an AbstractPaper entitled “Screening Technique for Lead and Cadmium in Toys and other Materials using Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy” published by H. Brouwer in Journal of Chemical Education
This paper describes a simple method to determine the presence of metals such as lead and cadmium in plastic toys, paints, and other solids using an atomic absorption spectrometer (AAS) without going through the time-consuming sample preparation steps. Basically, the method involves transferring solid sample to a nichrome wire by placing a small sample on a wire loop or touching the heated wire to the sample and then heating the wire in the AAS flame. By choosing the appropriate radiation source and wavelength, the presence of different metals may be determined qualitatively.
For this project, three different varieties of plants (radishes, lettuce and beans) were sprinkled with tap water acidified to pH 4.0 each day over a period of 6 weeks. At the end of the exposure time, the above-ground plant matter was removed, dried and weighed. All three varieties showed a decrease in mass compared with controls; lettuce showed the greatest decrease, suggesting that lettuce is most sensitive to acid rain.
Unique feature of the Christian Schools Science Fair hosted by Redeemer University College
Acknowledgment that God created the universe in its many dimensions
It is included to encourage students to reflect on the significance of their Christian beliefs as these relate to their project
Students should avoid use of clichés
Ensure that all the necessary information is included in the display
May include experimental set-up (if space permits)
Otherwise include pictures, model
Avoid clutter and really fancy lettering!
Judges are interested in substance that is clearly and logically displayed
Ensure that display guidelines are met
Regulations for the projects
Judging Forms used by the judges
List of schools participating
Winners from past Science Fairs
On-line registration of school
On-line registration of projects
We have resources available for you online!