Doubling the number of participants in science fairs is a personal goal of mine, mainly because of the approach taken to it by teachers.

We often tell kids that they have to participate in the upcoming science fair, but we haven’t shown them how to do it. It’s difficult to get good results when the process hasn’t been modeled and the expectations haven’t been spelled out. It’s like if we told them to go outside and play soccer while handing them a ball but they didn’t know how to play, let alone seen a game of it.

So, here’s one possible solution to the problem… The teachers at Wilder Elementary had each child in their respective class do the same experiment with guidance by the teacher. For example, each student in the second grade conducted the same plant growing experiment. The classroom teacher guided each student through the process, helped the student collect and interpret data and arrive at a conclusion that answered their starting question. The trial was a great success, involvement in the next science fair increased from previous years, and teachers were excited that the students were actually using the scientific method in a controlled setting. Sure, it’s guided inquiry… but only through practice can we as teachers ever hope to move our students to a self-guided level.

Full explanation of the “Science Fair Boot Camp” is available in the embedded podcast.

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