Okay..did that title just make you cringe? If so, you have come to the right place. I have spent a good number of years on kids’ science fair. And while we may not have had any national winners in our house, I have learned a great deal about what makes a good project and what is needed to make this a positive experience for your child. So here are six tips for your next science fair project.
#1 Know The Requirements For YOUR Science Fair:
All schools/districts/competitions are different, so know what it is the judges will be looking for. At our elementary school, only science EXPERIMENTS from 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders are eligible to move on to the regional competition. In case you don’t know:
A science EXPERIMENT tests ONE variable : Like which battery lasts the longest. The variable tested here is the battery.
A science DEMONSTRATION shows a science theory in action: Like making a volcano or a potato battery
The requirements for our middle and high schools are different too. So my point is before you start helping your child choose a project, look over the information provided regarding your school’s requirements. If you are still in doubt ASK.
The basic science fair project board components are:
You will also need a few photos taken during the experiment and, depending on your fair’s requirements, a works cited page.
Again, I cannot stress this enough… be sure to double-check YOUR SCIENCE FAIR REQUIREMENTS before starting your project. Every grade level, every school, every competition is different so make sure you understand what is expected of your child.
#2 Choose An Interesting Science Fair Project:
May sound easier than you think. Choosing a project can be challenging. While you’ll want to help your kiddo pick a project that is “cool”, the best results come when your child has a project that he/she is excited about and is within their learning level. Our go-to site for project ideas is Science Buddies. It’s a great site that has tons of project ideas. You can search for a project by subject material (chemistry, biology..etc), project duration, difficulty, and cost. You can also use their topic selection wizard tool which can help find a project based on a few questionnaire answers. Whatever topic your child chooses, make sure it is something that really interests them. They will be spending a good amount of time on the project and it will make the process much easier if it is a subject that is interesting to THEM.
#3 Start Science Projects EARLY!:
Okay, I always fail on this tip–ALWAYS. Something always comes up and next thing I know it’s two weeks until the project is due. Life is so much easier when you start it as early as you can. It will ease frustrations and keep the chaos down to a minimum…especially if you are like me and have multiple kids doing projects.
#4 As A Parent, You Will Need To Help With Science Fair:
Yes, it is their project. Yes, they need to do the work.
You will need to help. How much help your child needs will depend on their age and the project. I am in no way suggesting you become lab partners here but they will need help. Whether it is gathering/purchasing supplies, holding a timer, proofreading an abstract…etc your little scientist will need you.
As a side note: Sometimes, especially at the elementary level, the kids are not well versed in the terms necessary for science fair. Sometimes, parents are not well versed in the terms necessary for science fair. If your kid is at the elementary level, you may need to teach them about the scientific process. This is a great (short) article about the scientific process . Students at the elementary level just haven’t learned about the scientific process yet, so it is important they understand the concept before the project starts.
#5 Make Sure the Science Fair Project Board is Eye Catching:
Make sure the project board is aesthetically appealing. Make sure your categories, written sheets, photos, and tables/graphs are all evenly spaced. Add in decoration/cutouts that are related to the experiment give projects a little extra appeal, but DON’T OVERDO IT! The focus for anyone looking at the board should be the project, not the glitter and flashing lights. Typing is ALWAYS better. If you have access to a computer and printer, type everything. Type everything in simple, easy to read font size and style. The rule is that The headings should be visible from across the room and the text (project write ups) should be easy to read if someone is standing in front of your board. Again, here for the younger Einsteins, parents may have to help with this part, as little fingers can get quite fatigued!
#6 Enjoy The Science Fair Experience:
So often I hear from other parents how science fair sucks and they don’t have time for that kind of hassle and it is not worth it. Okay, parents I say this with love…lots and lots of love. If science fair is something your kiddo wants to do, if it is something that interests him/her, something that excites him/her….then science fair is not something you should think of as an inconvenience.
Don’t get me wrong, science fair time isn’t always joy and roses around here–no sir. There are instances of..ahem…”raised” voices and frustration. But there is also a lot of good that comes out of doing these projects.
You GET TO watch your child learn and apply new knowledge and skills. You GET TO see their “lightbulb” moment. You GET TO spend one-on-one time with them. But best of all you GET TO see their faces fill with pride and excitement when their project is complete. So don’t think of this as a hassle (even though it can sometimes feel like it), think of this as a gift, an opportunity to share in something really special with your kid and then enjoy the experience.
Do you have any Science Fair tips to share? Comment below!