It's science fair season! Want to help your child learn the scientific method with a fun project (and then show it off to others?) We've got a list of great resources.
Why participate in a science fair?
- Kids are natural scientists – they want to know how things work!
- Participating in the science fair at elementary school will help prepare kids for middle school science fairs, which are often mandatory.
- It's a fun family activity!
1. Choose A Project
Ask your child “What interests you?” Here's a list of three branches of science and possible questions they might want to know the answer to.
Plants – What type of soil do plants grow best in?
Animals – What type of food do compost worms prefer?
Human Body/Health – How does smell affect the sense of taste?
Microorganisms – How can you reduce odor in sneakers?
Environment – How does acid rain affect plants?
Weather – How does weather affect mood?
Geology – What are the best conditions for making sand castles?
Space – How do fins on a rocket affect flight?
Chemistry – How does the amount of baking soda affect cookies?
Energy – What is the best shock absorber for protecting eggs?
Matter – Which paper towel absorbs the best?
Experiments should be designed to be a fair test of the scientific question.
'Variables' are factors that we change during the experiment. Change only one variable at a time and keep everything else about your experiment the same.
2. Book Resources:
Look for books at
your school or local library. Some of our favorites:
Janice VanCleave's A+ Science Fair Projects - A simple guide to the science fair process. 35 complete starter projects on various topics including:
* The angular distance between celestial bodies
* The breathing rate of goldfish
* Interactions in an ecosystem
* Nutrient differences in soils
* Heat transfer in the atmosphere
* Magnetism from electricity
The Everything Kids' Science Experiments Book - Experiments using household materials that answer questions like:
*Is it possible to blow up a balloon without actually blowing into it?
*What is inside coins?
*Can a magnet ever be "turned off"?
*Do toilets always flush in the same direction?
*Can a swimming pool be cleaned with just the breath of one person?
Kitchen Science Lab for Kids - 52 science activities for kids that encourage experimentation in biology, chemistry and physics in the family kitchen or backyard. Many example experiments are great for toddlers, or exciting enough for tweens.
Also check out the Gardening Lab and Outdoor Science Lab books from the same series for more ideas!
Science Fair Central - An updated site with easy to use tabs that help students choose a project based on their interests.
Science Buddies - This site includes a Topic Selection Wizard that leads the student through a series of questions, including grade level, area of science and amount of time until the project is due to help them select just the right experiment!
Babble Dabble Do - Over 20 fresh and creative science projects, including more tips and book resources. Divides projects into grade groups, including kindergarten - 1st, 2nd - 4th, and 5th grade and up!
Camp Yellow Scope - Our summer series of eight fun-filled and colorful science experiments, easily translatable to a science fair experiment! Learn about surface tension; density, mass and volume; chemical reactions; pigments and 'unmixing colors'; capillary action; isolating DNA from strawberries; molecular interactions by painting on milk, and more!
4._Science Kit Resources
Short on time? Or want the convenience of everything together in one place? Consider a science kit – but be careful to chose a high quality kit with experiments that test a specific question.
Yellow Scope science kits offer suggestions for experimental extensions that could be developed into a unique science fair project!
The Foundation Chemistry Kit explores key concepts like chemical reactions, molecular motion, and the effect of temperature.
The Acids, Bases and pH Kit explores the mysteries of household acids and bases, and the "Be A Maker" chapter shows girls how to make their own acid-base indicator and pH paper at home.
5. Follow the Scientific Method!
Follow the steps of the scientific method and you can’t go wrong! Here's a handy flowchart for kids to refer to when designing and presenting a project. (They can even cut out the titles for each step and “fill in the blanks”). Click on the image for a printable PDF:
Tips for Success
- Choose a topic that is interesting/relevant to your child.
- Follow the steps of the Scientific Method and you can’t go wrong!
- Approach the project over several sessions so it is not overwhelming.
- Personalize the presentation with artwork, graphics and perhaps a hands-on demo!
- Don't do the work your child should be doing - you're just the guide!
SHARE WITH US!
Let us know what you did. Share your photos from home or the fair with us on Facebook, Twitter, or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We love getting your messages!
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