Developing and maintaining a successful science fair program
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Developing and Maintaining a Successful Science Fair Program. Hamilton Invitational Science and Engineering Fair (HISEF) Sponsored by Intel Hamilton High School Chandler Unified School District # 80. Copyright 2010 HISEF - T. Clark. Shop Talk Goals.

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Developing and maintaining a successful science fair program l.jpg

Developing and Maintaining a Successful Science Fair Program

Hamilton Invitational Science and Engineering Fair (HISEF)

Sponsored by


Hamilton High School

Chandler Unified School District # 80

Copyright 2010 HISEF - T. Clark

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Shop Talk Goals

  • Present a unique concept for hosting a district science fair.

  • Give novel ideas to involve community support and gain participation.

  • Discuss curriculum and other ideas for long term maintenance of your program.

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Three Program Components

I. Science Fair Event

  • The Basics

    II. Community Involvement

  • Mentors

  • Judges

  • Funding

  • Volunteers

    III. Long Term Management

  • Curriculum

  • Improving Project Quality

  • Preventing Teacher Burnout

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HISEF Background

1998-1999 School Year

“Dare To Dream”

  • No CUSD Schools participated in school science fairs. No CUSD Student has ever been selected to compete at ISEF.

  • In 1999 HISEF was born with the theme “Dare to Dream”

  • 650 students competed in HISEF.

  • 22 students competed at CARSEF; 5 students placed. None were selected to go to ISEF.

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CUSD has had 41 Intel ISEF Finalists!

  • We now primarily compete on the National and International Levels, to include such competitions as:

    • Intel ISEF

    • Intel Science Talent Search

    • National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

    • International BioGENEius Challenge

    • Stockholm Junior Water Prize Competition

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I. Science Fair Event

  • Develop a purpose or mission statement for your Science Fair Program.

    • Use the science fair event as a pathway to teach students the scientific process and foster young scientist

    • Gain community support and participation

    • Gain interest and participation at the younger grade levels

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I. Science Fair Event Announcing The Event

  • Determine a name for your event

  • Use a task and time line checklist to keep things running smooth.

  • Select a theme/or create a logo (start looking for the guest speaker)

  • Determine who is invited and how many projects each site can send

  • Select a date: notify and invite other schools to participate

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I. Science Fair EventRegistration

  • Create a timeline that works for your school and district.

  • Publish this information in September and continue to publish the project due dates, judging criteria and procedures each month.

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I. Science Fair EventSetting Up For the Event

  • When the doors open make sure all judging is complete

  • Have someone make periodic announcements about the different activities and their start times.

  • Greeters welcome visitors and pass out programs for the event.

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I. Science Fair Event Awards Ceremony

  • Create an agenda with all parties involved and what their parts are.

  • Involve your school AV department or club to help with the lights, microphones, music, video, etc.

  • Use the awards templates for the PowerPoint and the announcer at the podium.

  • Ask a student in Photography class to take pictures of the winners.

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I. Science Fair EventAwards and Incentives

  • Every student participant gets:

    • Participation Ribbon

    • T-Shirt/Backpacks

    • Give away items from financial supporters

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I. Science Fair EventStudent Awards

  • We don’t want students to compete for monetary or extrinsic rewards

  • Ribbons

  • Best of Fair Plaques for Physical and Biological Sciences

  • Intel Innovation Award

  • Special Awards are offered by outside organizations

  • Opportunity to move forward and compete at the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair.

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II. Community Support Component

  • Make the fair interactive for all age groups. (Parents, siblings, retired communities, local industry)

  • Have your guest and participants experience science.

  • Find ways to involve all types of students.

  • Find programs and key individuals in your schools that can contribute to the experience.

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II. Community SupportSchool Exhibits

  • Technology displays

  • Science Club

  • Student orchestras and choirs (4-12)

  • AP Chemistry Magic Show

  • Robotics Club

  • FFA (Future Farmers of America)

  • Biotechnology Academy

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II. Community Support Community Exhibits

  • Police/Fire Department

  • Electric and other Utility Companies

  • Intel

  • Microchip

  • Community Colleges and Universities

  • US Army and Navy

  • City Of Chandler

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II. Community Support InvitingCommunity Exhibits

  • Call everyone you want to invite and obtain verbal confirmation.

  • E-Mail information about the event and a survey sheet to determine needs:

    • Space

    • Electricity

    • Tables

    • Special arrangements

  • E-Mail final confirmation and a map of their location at the site of the event.

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    II. Community SupportGain Financial Support

    • Determine the cost of your event.

    • Market your ideas and arrange meetings with potential industry and their Public Affairs Officers.

    • Write grants to local companies that are known to support public education.

    • Determine how much money your district and school are willing to contribute.

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    II. Community Support Advertising to the Public

    • Newspapers

    • Flyers go home with every student

    • Postcards to local community VIP

      • School Board Members

      • City Council

      • VIPS in Community

      • Principals

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    Find organizations that have grant match programs for volunteer time

    Work with your financial contributors

    Community Colleges

    University graduate and undergraduate programs

    Local Rotary Club, Lions Club, Kiwanis Club, Lady Sun Birds

    Retirement Communities

    Build a Student Alumni Data Base

    AP Students make great judges for our Elementary Schools

    Get a Buddy School

    Science Cadre Members

    II. Community Support Judges and Mentors

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    II. Community Support volunteer timeVolunteers

    • Determine what areas you will need volunteers

      • Judges

      • Mentor

      • Set up

      • Decorating, balloons, table skirts, signs, Check in winners

      • Tag Projects with participation ribbons

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    Direct students and teachers dropping off projects volunteer time

    Welcome visitors

    Working booths

    Welcoming and directing judges


    Create electronic data bases to keep track of your volunteer

    Electronically send out information related to the event:

    Shift Time and Date

    Job Descriptions

    Parking Information

    Judging Criteria

    Contact Information

    II. Community Support Volunteers

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    III. Long Term Management volunteer timeCurriculum

    • Build student research into your core content science courses

    • Create an Independent Science Research Course

      • Keep key students Interested

      • Allows the teacher and the students to work on authentic research without the pressures of a regular classroom or school work.

      • Increases project quality

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    Provide volunteer timelesson plans or teacher workshops

    Provide excellent student models for both teachers and students

    Inform everyone including students of your goal

    Host student workshops at your school or site

    Teacher Experts host specialized workshops (Example - Microbiology)

    Evaluate the overall quality of your student projects that are present at the fair.

    Find one area that really needs improvement over all others.

    Develop a plan to help teachers increase quality in this area.

    III. Long Term Management Improving Project Quality

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    III. Long Term Management volunteer timePreventing Teacher Burnout

    • Conduct a post evaluation of the event with all planning parties involved.

    • Don’t do all the work alone or assign this task to just one individual.

    • Give everyone in your department an assigned duty. They need to be part of the mission. (Even if they are not assigning student projects)

    • Develop a team to problem solve issues that seem to cause the most stress.

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    III. Long Term Management volunteer timePreventing Teacher Burnout

    • Team develops department reference manuals, criteria, web based lesson plans, etc. for department teachers to use.

    • Team presents solutions to the other teachers for department by in.

    • When hiring science teachers take into consideration their willingness to contribute to the mission. Hold them to their word.

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    III. Long Term Management volunteer timePreventing Teacher Burnout

    • Find ways to reward your team and other department participants.

    • Trip to ISEF

    • Brag about your school and district accomplishments in newspapers and give

      them credit for their hard work

    • Thank you letters from Principals or DistrictSuperintendents

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    Questions and Discussion volunteer time