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Science Fair Projects, A Parent's Guide

Aug 17, 2007
Oh dear, your days of peace and quiet are over. Your child will be creating a science project for the school science fair. Your kitchen will become a laboratory with messy chemicals and gooey liquids. Your living room will become a staging area for display boards, charts and graphs. Your computer area will be covered with pages and pages of research material.

Is all this chaos really worth it?

Yes! Even though scientists and engineers are held in high esteem, America is suffering from a lack of technically trained young people to enter the work force. Science fairs give children an appreciation for the science and engineering fields and encourage them to seek technical careers. Steering your child into successful science fair participation and cheering their efforts is a good step toward their future.

So, where do you begin?

Here are some dos and don'ts to keep your sanity, keep order in the house, and help your would-be scientists to create a great project, and perhaps even win an award.

* DO help them select a project in a subject that holds their interest. A topic they like and choose will keep them interested and focused on the tasks at hand.
* DON'T do the research for your student. Research is part of the learning process.
* DO make certain that your child allows enough time from start to finish. Six weeks is a good idea. Some projects take much longer.
* DO make sure that your child follows the "scientific method". This will include such topics as research, problem, hypothesis, experiment and conclusion.
* DO listen to your child's "practice" presentations.
* DON'T do any of the work for your child, but DO give him/her guidance
whenever needed. There are no yelling or short tempers when doing science projects. There are only opportunities for exciting discovery.
* DO give encouragement, guidance and support.
* DON'T stress the award factor. The most important aspect of the entire exercise is discovery, excitement and learning.
* DO give your child the help they need in going to libraries, getting available computer time, and making funds available for needed materials.
* DON'T let your child do a project that uses dangerous chemicals, or is otherwise unsafe.
* DO instill a sense of pride and accomplishment to your child for their efforts, but DON'T be afraid to give your child constructive criticism.
About the Author
Mort Barish is co-founder of Terimore Institute, Inc. Terimore provides hundreds of science fair projects with step-by-step guides for children in grades K-12 to help them successfully compete in science fairs. Find fun, easy and award-winning science fair projects at www.terimore.com!
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