June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
22.1161.1 - 22.1161.11
Breathing Life into the Science Fair ProcessMany middle and high schools require students to complete science fair projects in an attempt toraise the level of students’ awareness of science and to provide the student with scientific andinquiry skills. While many students obtain support from family and friends, urban schools relyheavily on the teacher as the primary source of support. This can mean hundreds of studentsbeing guided by a single teacher, limiting the effectiveness and enhancement to the science fairprocess. This paper defines a model used to assist teachers and students by using scientists andengineers to bring relevance and knowledge to the science fair process. The three mainobjectives of the project were to 1) provide relevance to learning science and performing ascience fair project; 2) provide mentors to work with a limited number of students to enhance thestudent’s learning and capability; and 3) encourage lower performing students to attain asuccessful science fair project.A middle school in a large, southwest U.S. city was the setting for the pilot project. The schoolhad required eighth-grade students to complete science fair projects as part of the sciencecurriculum for 8 years. Over those years, many students have not completed the project and mostprojects were barely meeting minimal standards. The school had developed a partnership with alocal research laboratory over a few years and it was decided that the science fair process neededassistance. A team made up of three eighth-grade science teachers, the school principal andscientists and engineers from the research laboratory developed a pilot plan for testing the threemain objectives listed above. Scientists and engineers joined the classrooms multiple timesduring the science fair process to provide real-world experiences and expertise to the studentsand teachers. The scientists and engineers also mentored students working in their field ofexpertise and provided more detailed instruction and advisement on the aspects of the project. Atthe completion of the science fair projects, students were required to provide an oral presentationof their projects to friends and family. The scientists and engineers participated in the judging ofthe oral presentations. For the 301 eight-grade students, the results of the pilot project resulted in111 students being invited to the regional science fair competition, 12 students being invited tothe state competition and close to 100% of the students completing the science fair projectrequirement. Using the knowledge gained from this pilot, the model is being refined andcontinued and the best method of collaboration between the middle school and the researchlaboratory is being established.
Deckard, C., & Marcarelli, K., & Benson, S., & McCormick, H. M. (2011, June), Poster-Breathing Life into the Science Fair Process Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18780
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