Major nerd alert here 🙂 We love the Science Fair! It is one of our favorite things during the school year. We also have had a lot of success with it too, both at the school level and also at the district level. Here are some of the tips we have learned along the way to help you make the most out of your project.
- Don’t focus on winning! Find a project your child is passionate about and then make sure you do it well. It needs to be something the child is passionate about because they are the ones that have to face the judges. How excited they are about their topic will be obvious to the judges. They also will be able to answer their questions better and with more confidence.
- If your child has their own idea for a project find a way to test it and if needed guide them. If they don’t have an idea try to find an innovative idea that relates to your child. Think of something you say to your kids all of the time. “You cant play video games because they rot your brains.” ” Don’t eat food off the ground.” “If you don’t get enough sleep you will be grumpy.” “Sugar after 4pm makes you hyper.” Then find a way to test that. Give them choices and let them make the final decision for their project.
- Make sure you read the directions! It is sad to walk around and see how many projects simply don’t follow the rules. Make sure you have all the steps of the Scientific Method labeled clearly.
- Make sure your project is organized, neat, and easy to read. I really recommend having your child type the data.
- Dress up a little bit for the fair. My boys usually wear casual pants or shorts and then a button down shirt and tie.
- Teach them to look the judges in the eye and make sure they are able to answer questions like, “Tell me about your project.” “Can you explain what the Scientific Method is?” Help them be prepared to explain their project in simple steps to keep the judges attention. Practice asking them questions. Don’t drill them until they are frustrated, but make sure they feel prepared and confident.
- HAVE FUN! I can not emphasize this enough. Some families take the science fair way to seriously. The contest is the smallest part of it. Helping your child to think though the Scientific method and figure out how to find answers to their questions is the real purpose.
Here are some of the projects we have done in the past:
Can Humans live on Mars?
This project was done right when the Mars Rover had been launched and they were waiting for results to come back with information on the radiation on Mars surface. We did have a bit of an edge on this project because my brother Mark was one of the Mechanical Engineers who actually helped design and built the Rover. We got to go on a tour of JPL/NASA and see the actual duplicate rover. But the point is this project was something Caleb was really passionate about. He could talk for hours on it. For his experiment we bought seeds that had been exposed to radiation. We then grew them and tested at what level of radiation it became harmful to living organisms. Then when the data came back from the Mars Rover we compared the radiation levels collected to that of our seeds.
Do Video Games Really Rot Your Brains
This was a really fun project. We picked 5 activities to test how they affected how well he could perform certain tasks. He tested playing video games, watching TV, reading, exercise, and playing Legos. After he performed those activities for 30 minutes he then took a random multiplication test and did these 2 tests published in the New York times to test how well he focused and also how well he juggled tasks. We compared how well he did on each task after the activities and then ranked them.
Rock, Paper, Scissors – Strategy or Chance
For this experiment he played 12 people 20 games of rock, paper, scissors and kept track of his scores. Then he watched some videos like this one and read a few articles about strategies, He complied a list of the common rules they said would improve his game. Then he played 12 more people 20 games and compared his percentages of wins, loses, and ties.
Does the 10 Second Rule Really Work?
For this project we bought petri dishes, Agar, and sterile swabs. We marked the petri dishes with a line down the middle and marked 1 side with an x and the other side with 10 seconds. We also marked each of them with the food we would be testing in them. We wrote the name of the one we were testing at home in black and the name of the food in red for the same foods we were going to be testing in a store aisle. Then we prepared the Agar in the petri dishes. He swabbed the food and rubbed it into the petri dish. Then dropped it on the ground and counted to ten. Then he re-swabbed the food and rubbed it in the other half of the petri dish. Then we let the bacteria grow. It helps to have a heat lamp for the bacteria to grow.
So there are a few ideas for you! Think outside the box and try to come up with a new project the judges haven’t seen before. Most of all have fun! Make sure your kids are on board and are having fun too! Its not about winning, its about learning and growing! Please tell us your cool project ideas in the comments!