Science Fair Tips for Parents
Some helpful dos and don'ts
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Oh dear, your days of peace and quiet are over.
Your son or your daughter, perhaps both, has been assigned to do a science fair project. Your kitchen will become a laboratory with chemicals and flamethrowers and dangerous liquids. Your living room will become a staging area for display boards, charts and graphs. Your computer area will be covered with pages and pages of research material.
Your life will never be the same. It really does not have to be this way.
Here are some tips and dos and don'ts to keep your sanity, to keep order in the house, and to help your would-be scientists to do a really good project, and perhaps even win an award.
Your willing and exuberant involvement could help your child to avoid a stressful experience, and instead to have an exciting learning adventure. You will both face many questions that must be answered.
Where will you get the ideas for an interesting and appropriate project?
How much time will be needed? How do you start? Where do you get the information? What is the "scientific method"?
What are the judges looking for?
Seems overwhelming doesn't it? Help is on the way. Just read on.
The first problem to solve with your child is finding the right project. The internet is great for gathering science fair project ideas. Searching for such terms as “science fair project ideas”, “winning science projects” “6th grade science fair projects” etc, is a great way to start. They can even search for project ideas using areas of interest such as “baseball science fair projects” or” tsunami science fair projects.”
Here is a list of other dos and don'ts to help make your child's science fair project successful and more enjoyable for both of you:
- DON'T do the research for your student. Let your child find the project that he/she just cannot resist doing.
- DO make certain that your child allows enough time from start to finish. Six weeks is a good idea. Some projects take much longer.
- DO make sure that your child follows the "scientific method". This will include such topics as research, problem, hypothesis, experiment and conclusion.
- Do make sure that your child has learned how to make the presentation.
- DON'T do any of the work for your child, but DO give him/her guidance
whenever needed. There are no yelling or short tempers when doing science projects. There are only opportunities for exciting discovery.
- DO give encouragement, guidance and support.
- DO make certain that the child knows it his/her project.
- DON'T stress the award factor. The most important aspect of the entire exercise is discovery, excitement and learning.
- DO give your child the help they need in going to libraries, getting available computer time, making funds available for materials and the like.
- DON'T let your child do a project that uses dangerous chemicals, or is otherwise unsafe.
- DO volunteer to help with the science fair.
- DO instill a sense of pride and accomplishment to your child for their efforts, but DON'T be afraid to give your child constructive criticism.
Even though scientists and engineers are held in high esteem, America is suffering from a lack of technically trained young people to enter the work force. Science fairs give children an appreciation for the science and engineering fields and encouragement to seek technical careers. Steering your child into successful science fair participation and cheering their efforts is a good step toward their future.
Over 200 science fair project ideas including information on the scientific method, and an understanding of what the judges are looking for can be found here: Science Fair Project Ideas