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Science Fair projects – the roles of children and parents


We are in the midst of Science Fair season. By middle and high school, students will typically have chosen their topic months in advance—sometimes before the school year even started—and the expectations are that the students will do all of the work on their own, under the guidance of their science teacher and without the help of parents. But what about the younger set?

The teacher duo at “Dear Teacher” respond to a question from a concerned parent.

Question: My elementary school child has to do a science fair project. I have been looking online for guidance along with project ideas. What are some of the best of the many websites that will help me? – Confused

Answer: First of all, parents need to realize that it is the child who has been assigned the project. So, parents should limit their participation to the role that the teacher has assigned to them. Unfortunately, parents may need to provide considerable guidance if a teacher has not prescribed definite steps to be followed by their students.

One of the most difficult aspects of science fairs is for a child to select an appropriate project. Parents can give input that will help a child select a project that he or she is fully capable of doing. They should also stress the importance of finding a project the child finds to be interesting. Doing these two things can lead to a child successfully completing a project.

Some children can devise their own projects. Many rely on looking at projects others have done. There are definitely plenty of websites devoted to science fair projects as well as apps, and don’t forget about books describing science fair projects. Here are some websites to get your child started: all-science-fair-projects.com; sciencebob.com and sciencebuddies.org.

Besides providing an abundance of project ideas, these websites offer helpful advice to parents as well as scientific resources. You can also search for science fair project apps on your phones and tablets. However, you need to be aware that many apps are not truly free but require in-app purchases.

Finally, for a project to be successful, it is essential that children understand the scientific principle that is key to their experiment. Parents should ask their children to explain the principle in their own words.

Besides being teachers, Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts have co-authored more than 100 books. If you have a question you’d like them to address, send it to dearteacher@dearteacher.com.

 

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