Science Fair

by Caroline on May 25, 2012

This year, for fourth quarter science, the girls both had to do a science fair project. They had lessons that taught them all about the scientific method and how to conduct experiments.

Bubbles' and M-bug's science fair presentation boards.

Bubbles' and M-bug's science fair presentation boards.

Now, when I first heard about the science fair, I was a bit dismayed. You see, when I was a kid, I did science fair a lot. Nine different years of science fair. And at my school, science fair was a big deal. We made fancy display boards, wrote a big report, got judged and competed to go to the next level — the whole shebang. I should have known that it wouldn’t be that in-depth at this school, but it’s hard to change the way you think about something.

Speaking of, when did they add steps to the scientific method? When I first started doing science fair, there were just four steps:

  • Purpose – what do you want to find out?
  • Procedure – how are you going to do it?
  • Data – what is the information gathered from your experiments?
  • Conclusion – what did you learn?

I think when I was in junior high they added:

  •  Application- what will you do with this information?

Well, now there are a whopping seven steps to the scientific method:

  • Ask a Question – pretty self-explanatory
  • Do Background Research – find out about the question you asked
  • Construct Hypothesis – what do you think will happen?
  • Test with an Experiment – pretty self-explanatory
  • Analyze Results – what do your observations tell you?
  • Draw Conclusion – what happened? was your hypothesis correct?
  • Report Results – present all of the above information in paper format

Both girls wanted to grow plants, and we decided they’d both use zinnia seeds to make things easier. Bubbles decided to try giving hers different amounts of light, and M-bug decided on different amounts of water.

Bubbles' Science Fair Observations

Bubbles' plant observations. We went real low tech.

The most important part of the experiment was making sure that the seeds got watered so they’d actually sprout. I talked a bit about that in an earlier post. Once we got to the end of our experiment period (read: the science fair was in two days) the girls wrote down their final observations, and we worked on putting their reports together.

I should mention that the actual science fair, going to school and sharing the project with other students, was optional. And the girls didn’t really think they wanted to do it. So, I had planned on them finishing up before the final due date of May 18. However, two days before the “science fair” at school on May 9, they decided they wanted to give presentations after all. Aaakkkk! We had one day to get the presentation boards done.

Something that always bugged the heck out of me when I competed in science fair was seeing projects that were obviously done by the parents. Well, in this case I did help with the experiments (that’s just the way it is when you have kids with learning difficulties), but I’ll admit the presentation boards were all me. I churned it out on the computer, based on what the girls said in their own words. (You can tell that I had a hand in it, based on the headings for the different steps. I just can’t get away from having a purpose statement.)

M-bug's Science Fair Observations

M-bug's plant observations. Love how she put in the sun and window.

The actual presentations went pretty well. Bubbles talked so quickly and quietly that she was a little hard to understand, but that’s ok. M-bug, as I anticipated, freaked out when it was her turn, and tried to roll up into a little ball in her chair. Finally I talked her into answering questions that I asked about the project, and she did well at that.

Overall, the girls had a good time working on their science fair projects. Of course, now the big issue is remembering to keep watering the plants since we’re no longer keeping track of it!


 

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