Monday, June 14, 2004

Science Fairs in Elementary School

Science Fairs in Elementary School. I actually did a volcano in 4th grade and won! I know that is not supposed to happen. I still love science fair day even though I am now a judge.

From the site:

Science fair projects have long been familiar events in schools throughout the country, and they have come to represent science in action, science as inquiry. The investigatory aspect of science fair projects fits wellwith current reform efforts guided by such publications as "Science for All Americans," "Benchmarks for Scientific Literacy," and the "National Science Education Standards." Classroom science is steadily being transformed into a process-driven, inquiry-based area of study, and science fair projects provide additional opportunities for students to become personally and directly involved in scientific investigation.

Elementary schools participate in science fairs for a variety of reasons: to stimulate student interest in science, to provide students with opportunities for research and active inquiry, to publicly recognize students' completed projects, and to provide students with opportunities to share their work (Perry,1995). There are many variations in format, but the primary components of a science fair project typically include an investigation, a written research report, a visual display, an oral presentation, and some sort of assessment. Learning some scientific facts or principles is a valuable fringe benefit for students doing projects, but the primary objective for science project work is to teach students to think (Tant, 1992, p.5.)

Students participating in science fairs are doing more than learning something new; they are using and extending knowledge gained previously through other experiences. Science fair work plans help students organize and review background information gained through previous library research on topics of interest. Past experiences will also help students make decisions on the importance of information to their topics.

The more a student knows about a topic, the easier it is to learn and remember new information (Recht & Leslie, 1988, as cited in Bruning, et al., 1995). Science fair projects provide students another avenue of learning more about topics of personal interest to them while also demonstrating both factual knowledge in written reports and procedural knowledge through the research process itself (Bruning, et al, 1995). Together, prior knowledge and newly acquired knowledge enable students to generate, analyze, and assess the impact of their findings, as well as connect what they learn to experiences beyond the science fair project.

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