Maybe you organized your school’s fair last year. Or maybe you helped out last year and you are stepping up to take the reins. You are an innovator and want to make some simple tweaks to improve the whole experience for kiddos and their grownups.
As a nonprofit, Science Fair Fun’s whole team is here to support you as a fair organizer in becoming your schools’ hero during your Science Fair! Here are some quick tips for you to consider as you embark on your super-hero role in inspiring kiddos to lead authentic Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) projects during your fair.
#1 Save tons of time & reduce stress
We want to help you to reduce stress all around your Science Fair and to Make Science Fair Fun™! We recommend building a strong team, simplifying the logistics and planning ahead – 14 weeks ahead. Yep, 3 months of planning before your fair even for a well-seasoned fair organizer. It might seem backwards, but believe me, the earlier you line up your team, reserve your rooms, and get resources out to the school staff and families, the less time you’ll spend overall and the less stress you’ll have all around.
Our #1 tool for reducing stress as a Fair Organizer? A 2-page logistics sheet where you keep track of all of the essential logistics about your fair:
- Organizing Committee member contact info and roles
- Essential deadlines and room reservations
- All your channels of communication and when they go out
- Tracking resources and sign-ups
Sounds like too much work? Not at all! These worksheets are included in our IMPLEMENT Skills-Maker program. All you need to do is complete them.
#2 Create scientists and engineers, not plagiarists
Tired of seeing parents’ work showing up during your school’s Science Fair? Or the potato battery and fizzin’ rockets without any of the science behind the projects? The root of this problem is communication about expectations. Expectations of students, of parents and of the Science Fair journey.
We want your students to develop skills they need to prepare for STEM careers and beyond! Our top recommended tools to communicate the value of creativity and problem-solving skills include the following:
- Student Fair Handbook that encourages students to develop projects based on something they connect with in their everyday lives.
- Consistent emails or social media posts to parents about
the value of student-led learning and how to effectively foster students’ skills.
- An Assessment Tool that rewards students based on their development of skills that you seek in budding scientists and engineers. Not a tool that assesses perfection, which compels students to just copy projects off the internet.
Don’t have the time to create these resources? We’ve got you covered! We’ll give you every resource while you IMPLEMENT Science Fair Fun!
#3 Increase participation by being inclusive
Not all kiddos have parents available to coach them every step of the way. These kiddos who don’t have a lot of support at home can be left feeling like STEM isn’t for them simply because they don’t have as much support.
At a loss on how to level the playing field? Perhaps the easiest thing you can do is to open your fair to projects that require less adult support than projects that follow “The” Scientific Method. Kids don’t always learn this method in school and if they do, they might not have learned the skills they need to be able to develop a creative project from scratch.
For first-timers who have limited adult support, we recommend they do a project that uses Scientific Inquiry. Scientific Inquiry is the essential first step in exploring authentic science or engineering projects. The student asks questions and does the research to answer those questions. You might consider also have them to provide a hands-on demonstration of a scientific principle or concept behind their inquiry.
Another method that can be entry level is a simple engineering project. Engineering projects follow Engineering Design, not “The” Scientific Method. They challenge students to design something by meeting specific criteria. You might offer a special fair category that is a challenge. Here’s how it could work: you provide specific criteria for building a structure (tower, car, tool, etc.) that meets a purpose (height or strength, distance, mechanics) and give them a list of materials or budget. Then they push the limits to design a prototype that meets that criteria.
Regardless of method, the point is to place a higher value on student-led, authentic projects where students develop skills and learn science over the perfect copied project that follows “The” Scientific Method with no authentic parts to it and no understanding of the science.
Unsure how to guide students on different methods for doing science or engineering? The resources we provide to you in IMPLEMENT Science Fair Fun will take care of this for you!