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Science Fair Projects - A Teacher's Guide

Aug 17, 2007
It's that time of year again. Kids learn by doing, and this is the opportunity the inquisitive geniuses have been waiting for.

Is second-hand smoke harmful?

Do boys or girls have better study habits?

Is the air more polluted at the bus station than near my home?

Kids are always asking questions and science fairs afford them the opportunity to answer these questions in a scientifically valid manner. Great science fair projects begin with the teacher or the parent. Helping your students select a project topic is undoubtedly your first task during the science fair season.

DO help your students to find the right project. The internet can be a great resource for gathering project ideas. There are thousands of science fair project ideas listed.

Teach them to enter key words like "science fair projects" or "science project ideas" or any combination of related key word. If the student is interested in biology, he/she could enter "biology science fair projects".

Finding something that interests them is the key to their success. Here are some helpful dos and don'ts:

DON'T do the research yourself. The student's search for the right project is a necessary first step in getting their interest. It will be really exciting for the student to surf the web and enjoy the experience of finding the project that he/she just cannot wait to do.

DON'T micro manage their efforts. They should feel free to express themselves.

DO give them general guidelines for completion dates.

DO teach them the step-by-step scientific method.

DO make them feel secure about asking you questions.

Be certain to advise your students that their science fair projects do not have to be limited to the generally accepted fields of chemistry, biology, physics and earth science. They can, for example do a project about who has better manners, boys or girls? Or they could investigate to see what part of their town is more polluted Many students like to do holiday specific science projects and they could do an experiment to determine how to make your Christmas tree last longer. This project involves testing several Christmas trees using water combined with different substances to see which tree lasts longer. For Halloween, they could do a science fair project to determine whether the diameter of a pumpkin has any relationship to the number of seeds in the pumpkin. This projects requires a number of pumpkins of different sizes and diameters and a lot of patience counting seeds. The sports fans will be able to find projects about baseball and football. After all, when you study the immovable object and the irrestable force, such as happens in sports like football and baseball, almost any results could eventuate. The students who watch current events will be able to find projects about tsunamis and hurricanes. For those interested in ufos, they can find a project about flying saucers. In this interesting project, the student actually gets to test his skills to determine whether he can make a real flying saucer;

Other interesting projects include determining whether caffeine increases blood pressure. This is a good science fair project for testing adults as well as students. They can find out for example, if people who drink several cups of coffee a day have higher blood pressures than those who do not. Coke and tea may also be tested in this project. They can also learn whether caffeine affects woman more than men, or teens more than adults.

Presentation is another area where many students could use extra guidance. Even the greatest science fair project will fail if it's presented poorly. Show your students examples of award-winning displays. And be sure to tell them about the judges' criteria for excellence.

Guide them on any science fair project limitations. Some science fairs discourage the use of live animals. Others may not permit projects that require growing plants because of the time required. Still others frown on the use of certain chemicals, especially for the younger grades. Make sure your students are aware of the limitations of your school.
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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