Category Archives: Science Fair Secrets

Students, parents and teachers share their winning science fair project ideas, stories and awards.

Science Fair Planning and Creative Ideas

By Guest Blogger: Karen Bantuveris, VolunteerSpot

Mad Science Meets Crazy Easy Student Science Fair Planning

Building extravagant dioramas and goo filled volcano models is only half the battle for creating a successful science fair. There’s a lot of work that goes into coordinating and planning this staple of elementary school life, and this post is dedicated to making it an easily navigable event for kids, parents and teachers.

Putting on a science fair can seem like quite the impossible task for both teachers and parent volunteers alike, but with advanced planning, a little creativity and a lot of enthusiasm, a science fair can be a whole bunch of fun for everyone involved.

Planning and Promoting

  • Decide where and when the science fair will be held, and when the deadline for the projects will be.  The cafeteria and the gym both provide open space where tables can be set up and people can easily walk around. Open the fair during the school day and encourage teachers from non-participating classes to bring their students!
  • Help students come up with topics, talk to your science teachers and find local research universities. Put together a giant list of science fair projects. A resource like Steve Spangler Science is perfect because there are oodles of ideas, and even better, there are hard to come by supplies!
  • Get the kids excited by offering creative awards for the projects deemed: messiest, stinkiest, loudest, smallest, biggest… get the kids thinking outside the ‘normal’ same old projects!

Volunteers

A large event like this needs a lot of support, from parents, kids and teachers. Make sure to get everyone on board a few weeks ahead of time using online signup sheets; busy schedules can fill up super-fast! Have parent helpers come for one-hour shifts during the day, and stagger set up times for the kids so there isn’t mass chaos as everyone tries to set up their projects at the same time.

You may also opt to have outside judges from the community – be sure to ask people from several scientific areas: engineers, doctors, and fish and game specialists. Ask around to see if any school parents fit the bill. Once invited, add them to your VolunteerSpot.com FREE Sign up reminder system.

Event Extras

  • Keep repair items on hand, just in case someone needs a last minute piece of duct tape, or a touchup with a Sharpie.
  • If the kids are presenting their projects to the judges, keep a detailed schedule of who’s going when and who will be judging who.
  • Take this opportunity to add a lesson plan on public speaking for the students that will be presenting their project to the judges.
  • Once the science fair is finished, have volunteers and judges fill out an evaluation form that outlines their feelings on the successfulness of the event, to help make the next year even more successful.

Prizing

The last thing to consider is how many prizes, what kind of prizes and what guidelines there will be for prizes handed out. Will there be an award for everyone who participates? Or will you have the traditional gold, silver and bronze awards? Will prizes be based on grade level, but have an overall winner for the school? What does a successful science fair mean for your school?

Here’s to an exciting and super successful science fair!

About the author:

Karen Bantuveris is the founder & CEO of VolunteerSpot, a time and sanity-saving online coordination tool that empowers busy parents, teachers and grassroots community leaders by making it easier get involved. VolunteerSpot’s free online sign up sheets are perfect for organizing a school or community science fair. Karen is passionate about increasing parent participation in schools and lives in Austin, TX with her husband and daughter.

Parents – Don't Fear the Science Fair

Tri Fold

It’s that time of year again. Snow is melting, temperatures are starting to rise a bit and your child has to work on a science fair project.

The dreaded science fair project.

The goal of the science fair is to teach the scientific method and give students insight into how to theorize, set up, perform and draw conclusions from an experiment. But it’s so much more than just boring science steps. It gets kids excited about independent learning, reaching, researching and discovering. This isn’t something you read about in a text book, it’s something you create, build and find your own answers. Creativity also helps in building a science fair project board – they are works of art!

Students also learn public speaking skills during the fair when presenting their project and discussing it with fair visitors.

And through all of this hard work, speaking, creating, testing and concluding, the kids build self-confidence and pride in their work. My favorite part of the science fair is walking around and seeing the pride and joy on all of the kids’ faces. Now, how can that be dreaded?

A friend of mine told me that she fears the science fair so much, that she throws the signup sheet out quickly before her kids see it and get any ideas. I’ve heard from other parents that they would lov

e to have their kids participate, but have no good idea where to start.

What are we teaching our kids if we are so fearful of the science fair that we won’t give them a chance at it? Information is power and that is true for the science fair. By knowing a few simple steps, you can help guide your child through an amazing journey through science.

The science fair project is a series of steps to reach a conclusion -

  1. Ask a Question
    The question doesn’t have to be something to make Newton scratch his chin. It can be anything that interests you.
  2. Research
    Gather information about the question you want to explore. Ask your science teacher and librarian for tips on how to find detailed information for your project.
  3. Hypothesis – Take a Guess
    Based on the research you have gathered, take an educated guess and write an “I think” statement. What do you think will happen?
  4. Materials
    What will you need to find the answer to your question? Determining your variables will tell you what materials you will need. A variable is what changes from one experiment to another. You will draw conclusions from experimenting with different variables. If you don’t have at least one variable, you don’t have a true science experiment.
  5. Procedure – Conduct Your Experiment
    This is the part where you perform your experiment and run your tests.
  6. Observations and Conclusion
    Provide a written description of what you discovered from your experiment. Was your hypothesis correct or incorrect? This is where you summarize the results of your experiment and compare the results to your original guess, and remember… it’s okay if your hypothesis was wrong. That is all part of the scientific process.
  7. Data – Science Fair Board
    Log and display your information on a science fair board. Most craft stores sell them or Google “science fair project board” to find one online.  Organize your project board by the steps you followed – Question, Research, Hypothesis, Materials, Procedures, Data, Observations and Conclusion.

For science fair project ideas, additional help with your project and supplies, visit us at SteveSpanglerScience.com.

Guest Blogger Susan Wells is a mom of two girls, ages 5 and 9. She organizes the Science Fair at her daughter’s elementary school and loves to bring science into their lives in and outside of the classroom. Susan does social media, blogging, blogger outreach and web marketing for Steve Spangler Science.

Tips to Make Your Science Fair Project More Meaningful

It’s science fair time for many schools across the country. If you’re a parent of a young scientist who is turning your kitchen into a laboratory, and you’re overwhelmed, here are some ways to make the project more meaningful. Participating in the school science fair is a fantastic opportunity to uncover the power of the scientific method. You’ll ask new questions, discover new science facts, conduct experiments that lead you to ask new questions and make new discoveries, and ultimately gain a new understanding of how science works. The best part is making the mini discoveries on your way to un-covering a conclusion. Watch the video to learn how to take the most popular science fair demonstration, the baking soda and vinegar volcano and turn it into a real science fair project.

For more help in finding a science fair project or getting science fair project ideas, how to put together a science fair board and lots of tips and ideas, check out our Science Fair Project section >

How Roxborough Elementary Encourages Participation in the Science Fair

With strong parent support and amazing teachers to encourage a love for science, Roxborough Elementary is celebrating the largest participation in their Science fair this year.

Science fair can be a daunting event for both students and their parents. But participating in science fair doesn’t have to be scary. All it takes is a question to get started.  It can be a simple question like “Which diaper absorbs the most liquid?” or “Which gum flavor lasts the longest?” After you ask a question, run a series of tests to answer your question. Sometimes, you won’t find a clear answer.

Roxborough Elementary takes advantage of the scientists in their community from Lockheed Martin. Community members are invited to help judge science fair projects. They don’t let their participants struggle on their own. They give each participant a packet of information on how to put their project together for the fair. Roxborough is sharing their packets with our parents and teachers to help them communicate with their participants and complete their projects.

If you are looking for a science fair project, check out our Science Fair library.

Science Fair Winners Should Be Just as Celebrated as the Super Bowl Winner – President Obama

President Obama is a brilliant orator. When I listened to his State of the Union last night, his comments about education, innovation and science, in particular, really hit home.

Nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science… however, America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world. No workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We are home to the world’s best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any other place on Earth.

Sure, it’s easy for people to point how how our educational system has allowed our students’ basic understanding of science to slip in the rankings over the years, but there’s always hope through creative ideas, out of the box solutions and good old hard work.

What’s more, we are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea – the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That is why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here. It’s why our students don’t just memorize equations, but answer questions like “What do you think of that idea? What would you change about the world? What do you want to be when you grow up?”

However, I believe the best part of the speech for me was the president’s remarks on how each one of us has the responsibility to help educate our children.

That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities. It’s family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done. We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.

Our schools share this responsibility. When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools don’t meet this test. That’s why instead of just pouring money into a system that’s not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all fifty states, we said, “If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we’ll show you the money.”

Last night’s message from the president encouraged me update some of the themes I share with audiences in the future. Thanks.