Innovation in elementary school? Absolutely! Kids are routinely pushing the limits of what is commonly accepted in their everyday world. Questioning “Why …?”, “Why not …?”, and “How …?” is the precursor to innovation. Help your child develop their Skills for Success: creativity, problem solving, communication and teamwork. Foster their skills-development rather than helping them have a “perfect” project. Focusing on perfection can give them an incentive for copying a project off the internet or following someone else’s ideas. This just robs them of their confidence in solving problems and using their own creativity. Here are some suggestions for keeping your child’s expectations realistic while also fostering an innovative and authentic learning experience:
- Encourage your child to explore a project using past experiences:
- A toy or something they have already experimented with.
- A class project they completed that they still have questions and interests in.
- Something they did during a STEM camp or an after school program.
- Consider doing an Inquiry Research project by summarizing or physically demonstrating a science or engineering principle or fact. This might lay the foundation for an experimental project next year.
- Expand on a published project, either solo or as a team. Foster their creativity and problem solving skills by challenging them to explore beyond the published project. Maybe turn a few playdates into a team science or engineering fair project to challenge their team skills development. Be sure they reference the source for their project on their poster board so that your child learns the importance of giving credit to other’s work (and not plagiarizing!).
Want a simple step-by-step guide for your child to follow during their project? Your child will love this easy-to-follow, 6-Step workbook: Make Science Fair FunTM!