How Schools Can Create Successful Science Fairs

by danserina
Last updated 8 years ago


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How Schools Can Create Successful Science Fairs

Foster communication to help students gain knowledge and social skills when participating in a science fair. The relationship between novice and expert is especially important. This will provide students with knowledge as well as rasie their level of accomplishment. Peer collaboration is also important. As a techer, remember to engage students and help them reflect on different aspects of their projects.Balas, A. K., & ERIC Clearinghouse for Science, M. H. (1998). Science fairs in elementary school. ERIC Digest.

Experts also have propsed for schools to try completely virtual science fairs. An article in Science and Children suggests that students use technology such as digital cameras to document their projects, and create a webpage to display their work. Tubbs suggests devoting time for students to work on their projects during school hours. The author notes that perhaps the best aspect of this online science fair was the student’s ability to view their peer’s webpages at their own leisure. Commenting features gave students the ability to encourage each other, ask each other questions, and offer suggestions. This kind of collaboration is rare in the traditional science fair setting.

After school science clubs are another way schools can create more sucessful science fairs. One school in Pennsylvania found that establishing a year round science club led to increased participation in the school's science fair. An after school club can allow students to combine newfound confidence in science with a hunger for answers. These factors make students highly motivated to participate in the science fair. The science club also allows a place for students to share ideas and develop their projects in a relaxed setting. Why not give it a try in your school!Creason, N. (2012, March 3). Personal motivation plays a key role in science fairs. Sentinel [Carlisle].

An article written by Seeman and Lawrence writes about the positive outcomes of using the Archimedes website when planning a science fair. The Archimedes Initiative website features videos of students explaining their projects, tips for parents and mentors, ideas for teachers, themes, and more. Using this website is a great starting point for a science fair. Follow the blue arrows to watch a video clip of a student explaining the motivation behind his topic of study.

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Bring the science faironline!

Science Fairs?

Interesting results were found when evaluating competitive vs. non-competitive science fairs. This discovered that low ability students would be expected to respond with a greater increase in interest in science when the award structure is non-competitive, but in contrast high ability students are likely to respond negatively under the same settings. This contrast suggests that there needs to be both competitive and noncompetitive options within a science fair to tailor to different ability levels and personalities.

Blenis, D. S. (2000). The effects of mandatory, competitive science fairs on fifth grade students' attitudes toward science and interests in science. ERIC Digest.

McComas' Tips for a Sucessful Fairprovide teacher education courseswork with districts to devote in class time to developing projectsmodel research methods for studentsuse inquiry-based methods of teachingenlist in parental helpprovide clear guidelines for studentsguide students throughout the whole proces of developing ther projectsMcComas, W. F. (2011). The science fair: a new look at an old tradition. Science Teacher, 78

"Sparking curiosity is the most valuable outcome of a sucessful science fair"

-College Student Journal

"...a wonderful opportunity to learn different aspects of science, share information about what you like to do, and get rewarded for it." (a student refelecting on their science fair experience)

Do you want a whole new spin on the traditional science fair? Try a Kid Inquiry Conference instead! An article published in Science and Children reports that many promising results of this science fair alternative were found including:increase in teacher's willingness to teach scienceIncrease in student’s confidence in science Increase in the students overall interest in science Magee, P. A., & Flessner, R. (2011). Have a kids inquiry conference!: putting a twist on the typical science fair. Science & Children, 48(8), 63-67.

Often times, science fairs simply highlight students who excel in science and ignore or do not include those who struggle with the subject, according to a study done on the effects of science fair involvement on 7th grade students. To combat this, Yasar and Baker suggest that schools focus on on helping students to enjoy science and create encouraging and inviting science fair atmospheres for every student to learn in. Baker, D. & Yasar, S. (2003). The impact of involvement in a science fair on seventh grade students. ERIC Digest.

Current Science Fair Structure

Collaboration is KEY!

Kid Inquiry Conference

A video from a Kid inquiry Conference

Competive vs. Non-Competitive

Tubbs, J. (2007). Take the science fair online!. Science and Children, 45(4), 45-49.

Seeman, J. I., & Lawrence, T. (2011). Students inspiring students: an online tool for science fair participants. Science Teacher, 78(8), 39-43.

4 Tools for Science Fair Success1. Use internet based "topic generating" tool2. Provide students with timelines to manage their schedules3. Moniter progress and give students opportunity for improvement based on suggestions4. Hold on-campus workshops for students to ask questions, get feedback, talk to professionals in the field, and get guidanceSmith, S., Messmer, B., Storm, B., & Weaver, C. (2007). Four tools for science fair success. Science and Children. 45(4), 30-35.

Miles, R. (2012). Increasing student’s participation in science fairs. Science Scope, 36(1), 66-70.



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