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The Benefits Of Unique Science Fair Projects

Dec 25, 2007
Everyone has seen the tired old science fair project, such as the volcano or the styrofoam solar system, which have been favorites of many parents for what feels like generations. These projects are relatively simple and easy from the parent's point of view, but they are incredibly bad choices for the children involved. Why?

These are the kind of projects that are so well-known that even the students know what is going to happen. And when that happens, the students are not learning anything, and their performance suffers during the presentation portion of science fairs because of it. Science fair judges have gotten bored with these types of projects, and that's a big problem for students who endeavor to win prizes in their science fair. In the end, this kind of project is only really good for the parents, and surprisingly, these kinds of projects are not even particularly cheap!

What you need to find is a unique science fair project, or at least something that beats those tired old projects. Not only will this help your child learn more, it can give them a much better chance of winning the science fair. Often, these competitions can include a scholarship or a nice cash prize, and even those that do not can often lead to a science scholarship later on down the line. That's a nice benefit, and aside from the grades, the knowledge, and the experience your child is getting with their participation, it gives you a great reason to try and do something unique.

So what kind of unique science fair projects are there? The internet seems like a decent first option, but given the prevalence of use, you can guarantee that large science fairs include a duplicate project, especially if you took your idea from a popular science fair blog or website. Even in a small science fair, or an in-class science fair, you have to guess that there are more than a few people who are visiting the same websites that you are, including the judges and the teachers who are grading your students. Duplicate projects mean trouble for the judges and the teachers, as it negates the true benefit of science fairs: having an exploratory experience. They want you to come up with something unique, on your own. In addition, you have to think about what kind of experience your child is having. A science fair is a chance for them to express their own creativity and interests, and plucking an easy or cheap project off of a website isn't helping them out any.

You can try visiting the library for books, or looking at news sites as well, but these sources often provide out-of-date, boring, or incredibly difficult projects.

Have the child come up with something of their own, or if that doesn't work, then have them add their own input into some aspect of an interesting and more unique science fair project. You can take some help from the internet, especially from the "members only" sites on the internet that have really solid projects, and books or suggestions with more unique ideas, but make sure to add something to them!

If your child needs help with their science fair project and you lack computer skills or scientific knowledge, don't be afraid to look for help. Many of those members only sites will offer helpful downloads like ready-made charts and spreadsheets for your child's use. You can also get help from online tutors, who are usually science majors in college who can help you out with some simple advice.
About the Author
Robert Watson is a high school mathematics teacher and a judge in his local science fair. His science fair projects website has information about determining how to do science fair projects and what kinds of resources you can rely on. Visit his Science Project page to learn more.
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