Keep in mind that not all children have access to support at home during their Science & Engineering Fair projects. If a student doesn’t have any adult support and they participate in fair, then it is easy for them to feel incapable when compared to other students who have access to necessary support and tools. This gap in support and its repercussions are often known in the educational community. This gap can compel schools to opt out of offering a Science & Engineering Fair all together. Filling this gap in support is essential.
Ideally, teachers would be able to provide students with support in the classroom so that all students have access to the same tools and support. But that is not always feasible. There are a number of ways in which you can help to fill the gap in support that students receive. The last thing you want to do is to propagate students interpretation of being incapable simply because they don’t have the support they need. Instead students should experience what it is really like to be a scientist or engineer and know “Hey, I can do it!”.
Options for providing essential support to students and their grownups include offering:
- An After-School Science Fair Club,
- Workshops that involve parents, or
- Open your fair to projects that require less adult support.
To the last point, you can make your fair more inclusive of students with varying levels of support by opening your fair to projects that require less oversight and teaching than projects that follow “The” Scientific Method. For example, consider opening your fair to student projects that follow Scientific Inquiry. Inquiry Projects allow students to explore answering a question they have without it resulting in an experiment. This type of project might be more like projects that students have done in class.