How to Help Your Child Win a Science Fair
Wallace Elementary School Science Fair, 2013
Projects due: January 14, 2014, Tue...
Wallace Science Fair Schedule
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

December 6, Friday Question Due
December 13, Friday Hypothesis Due
December 1...
RISD Elementary Science Fair Brochure
Sent Home With Your Child (Blue)
Safety Rules and Display Rules

Step by Step Guide ...
Your Job: Help & Guide
• Don’t do the work for your child.
• Let your child make mistakes – children learn
much from their...
Why Science Fair Matters
• Major part of grade.
• Teaches real-world
problem-solving skills.
• Looks good on a magnet
scho...
What Parents CAN & CAN’T Do
Parents Can & Should:

Brainstorm.
Explain concepts.
Show them how to use
required tools.
...
Read and Follow the Rules
• Don’t bring prohibited items to school, or to a
regional science fair.
• “No identifiable info...
Start Early
• Regional Science Fair
Prizes go to projects that
take time.
– Elementary School: 30-90
day projects
– Junior...
Answer a Real Question
• Building a model is not a
science fair project.
• Winning science fair projects
answer a question...
Every Science Fair Project Needs:
•
•
•
•

A question (why the experiment was done)
Hypothesis (what the student expected ...
Where does the work show up?
Size Matters: Use Bigger Displays
• Big displays are allowed.
– Store-bought displays are
half the allowable size.

• More...
Good Displays Matter

North Dallas Regional Elementary
Science Fair
• 222 projects per grade
• 1,553 projects
• <3 minutes...
Creating a Great Display
Same Project – Two Displays – 125 photos – 14 graphs – 25 page Notebook

2012 Wallace Grand Prize...
What Your Display Needs
• Lots and lots of charts, graphs, and data tables.
• A notebook or journal.
• Clear photos of the...
Money-Saving Tips
•
•
•
•
•

Don’t buy fancy letters.
Print photos at home.
Borrow equipment.
Flinn Scientific Catalog.
Le...
Some Eye-Catching Displays
Some Eye-Catching Displays
Some Eye-Catching Displays

Expectations change with grade
level. Use props where needed.
Some Eye-Catching Displays
Contact: fredddallas@gmail.com or 214-340-4774

QUESTIONS?
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How to help your child win a science fair flh

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Tips from retired science teacher Fred Holland on helping any child win a school science fair without doing the work for them or going crazy in the process. Holland and his wife have 8 grandchildren, including two in modified or special education classes, who have all won regional or district "best of the best" science fair trophies.

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  • I probably should have called this presentation,“How to help your child win a science fair without doing the work for him/her or going broke in the process.”  But that wouldn’t fit in the headline.We’ve all seen projects – especially in some of the wealthier districts where a regional science fair ribbon is considered a stepping stone to an ivy league college – that clearly weren’t done by an elementary school child. Don’t be that parent. It not only gives your child the wrong message, it hurts them in the long run because they don’t learn how to solve a problem.
  • My granddaughter Amber, who just graduated from Stephen F. Austin, spent four months on a project designed to answer the question, “Why are boys such slobs?” Unfortunately, she proved that the girls at her junior high school were actually bigger slobs than the boys – at least in terms of the amount and kinds of bacteria found in the gym locker rooms.My 6th grader picked his science fair project this year in October, and has completed one “trial run”. The trial run – where he tested a small version of his project to see if it would work – did not work, so he’s now trying to figure out what went wrong so he can re-do it.The point is that you’ll have a better project – and much, much less stress – if you start early.Didn’t start early? Don’t stress about that, either. Just pick a topic that can be done in the time available.
  • How come glow sticks don’t last very long? (Turned into a project on how to store glow sticks so that they last longer after they’ve been “popped” to start glowing. The answer: freeze them after you’ve opened them, to slow down the chemical reaction.)How come some people say dogs are dirty? (Turned into a project titled Whose Mouth is Cleaner? that tested mouth swabs collected from cats, dogs, grown-ups, and children. The answer: a child’s mouth is cleanest right after they come home from the dentist for a teeth-cleaning — but a dog’s mouth was cleaner on an average day.)Why are boys such slobs? (One of my granddaughters turned this query that nearly everyone with two X chromosomes has asked at some time into a project called Boys vs. Girls: Gym Bacteria Showdown. Over six weeks, she collected samples twice a day, from six places in the boys and girls locker rooms at the school. She sampled the same spot in each locker room (benches, locker doors, the edge of sinks, the handle to the restroom stalls, the floor of the shower, the paper towel dispenser) first thing in the morning when things were cleanest after the janitor’s overnight work, and after the last team practice of the day when they’d been in use for 12 hours. Turns out that samples from the girls locker room grew truly nasty bacteria while the boys locker room was relatively clean.)The science has to be appropriate for the child’s grade level. The same question posed by a fifth grader and a high school sophomore should result in very different science fair projects.
  • You can’t have too many charts and graphs.You can’t have too many photos.You can’t have too detailed a project notebook.
  • 7 School districts – 1 project per school, per grade = 222 projects per grade, or 1,553 eligible projects. 8 hour judging day less one hour for results tallies and scoring and 1 hour for lunch, means each project is considered for about 3 minutes before a decision on finalists is made. Finalists get another 10-15 minute review before prizes are awarded.
  • Construction paper, an ink-jet printer, PowerPoint, and Excel are your friends when it comes to creating great project displays.
  • Print large block letters on your printer – sans serif font – that can be cut out and pasted down.Print digital photos on plain paper – it won’t matter to the judges.Let your child draw what he/she sees under a microscope, and create their own designs.
  • How to help your child win a science fair flh

    1. 1. How to Help Your Child Win a Science Fair Wallace Elementary School Science Fair, 2013 Projects due: January 14, 2014, Tuesday Science Night/Awards: January 17, 2014, Friday Researched and Written by Deborah McAlister Holland ©2013 Deborah McAlister Holland All Rights Reserved Presented and Modified with permission by Fred L. Holland
    2. 2. Wallace Science Fair Schedule • • • • • • • December 6, Friday Question Due December 13, Friday Hypothesis Due December 18 – January 10, Work on Project January 10, Friday Results - Conclusion Due January 14, Tuesday Final Project Due January 17, Friday Wallace Science Fair February 3-4, Mon-Tue Regional Science Fair
    3. 3. RISD Elementary Science Fair Brochure Sent Home With Your Child (Blue) Safety Rules and Display Rules Step by Step Guide and Hints
    4. 4. Your Job: Help & Guide • Don’t do the work for your child. • Let your child make mistakes – children learn much from their own mistakes! • Read the rules with your child. Enforce safety standards and help your child follow the rules. • Schedule the work and supervise the work. • Ask questions of your child’s teacher • Email : fredddallas@gmail.com • Use the Subject Line: SF Hints for Child’s Name
    5. 5. Why Science Fair Matters • Major part of grade. • Teaches real-world problem-solving skills. • Looks good on a magnet school application. • In upper grades, there are prizes and scholarships. – National: $1 million in prizes – Regional $250K in scholarships
    6. 6. What Parents CAN & CAN’T Do Parents Can & Should: Brainstorm. Explain concepts. Show them how to use required tools. Purchase supplies. Take photos of your child doing the work. (Make sure the child can’t be identified in photos!) Parents Can’t & Shouldn’t  Assemble, build, or “help” with project or display.  Do the research for them.  Purchase a “kit”.  Write reports.  Record data.  Calculate results.  Create drawings or graphs.
    7. 7. Read and Follow the Rules • Don’t bring prohibited items to school, or to a regional science fair. • “No identifiable information” on display. • Don’t leave part of the project at home on the day it’s due. • Rework your display for Regionals. • Don’t focus on discovery not winning. • Every child that does a science fair project by themselves and completes a project board is both a winner and a scientist!
    8. 8. Start Early • Regional Science Fair Prizes go to projects that take time. – Elementary School: 30-90 day projects – Junior High School: 90-180 day projects – High School: 6 month to 1 year projects – Multi-year projects at the national level
    9. 9. Answer a Real Question • Building a model is not a science fair project. • Winning science fair projects answer a question that can’t be answered by looking at Wikipedia. – Kids are great at asking this kind of questions. – If you know the answer, can Google the answer, or know that your child ever did it in class for a grade , don’t do a project on it.
    10. 10. Every Science Fair Project Needs: • • • • A question (why the experiment was done) Hypothesis (what the student expected to happen) List of supplies Methodology or Procedure (a “how to” or “Step by Step” description of the experiment) • Data (charts, graphs, photos, drawings, observations, informat ion collected during the experiment) recorded by the child in a dated log book and shown on project display. • Results as a Conclusion (what happened) • Analysis (what the data means, and why it proves or disproves your hypothesis)
    11. 11. Where does the work show up?
    12. 12. Size Matters: Use Bigger Displays • Big displays are allowed. – Store-bought displays are half the allowable size. • More room for: – Graphs & charts – Information – Photos • Judges spend just a few minutes per entry to pick finalists.
    13. 13. Good Displays Matter North Dallas Regional Elementary Science Fair • 222 projects per grade • 1,553 projects • <3 minutes to per project •
    14. 14. Creating a Great Display Same Project – Two Displays – 125 photos – 14 graphs – 25 page Notebook 2012 Wallace Grand Prize Winner 2012 Regional Science Fair Honorable Mention
    15. 15. What Your Display Needs • Lots and lots of charts, graphs, and data tables. • A notebook or journal. • Clear photos of the process, equipment, and results. – Make sure that any required safety equipment (gloves, goggles, tongs, hot pads, etc.) are clearly visible in the photo. – Make sure that anything identifying (faces, scars, t-shirts with school or camp logos on them, hair, etc.) is not shown in the journal of on display. • A story that makes sense. • Readable, attractive presentation “boards.”
    16. 16. Money-Saving Tips • • • • • Don’t buy fancy letters. Print photos at home. Borrow equipment. Flinn Scientific Catalog. Let your child’s creativity show. – Judges like hand-drawn illustrations. – Interesting photos are eye-catching.
    17. 17. Some Eye-Catching Displays
    18. 18. Some Eye-Catching Displays
    19. 19. Some Eye-Catching Displays Expectations change with grade level. Use props where needed.
    20. 20. Some Eye-Catching Displays
    21. 21. Contact: fredddallas@gmail.com or 214-340-4774 QUESTIONS?

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