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General Science and Teaching

Science fair projects

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Minnu Messiahdas Minnu Messiahdas 7020 Points

Do you believe that 3rd grade is too young to assign science fair projects? I believe science fair projects should only be assigned when they are in 5th grade and up. At such a young grade like 3rd grade, science fair projects make force students to think that there is only one linear and rigid way of conducting scientific inquiry. Science fair projects may scare young children from enjoying scientific inquiry. What are your thoughts?

Matt Bobrowsky Matthew Bobrowsky 6410 Points

It depends on what you mean by a 'science fair.' When we give students a recipe to folllow, like the usual five-step 'scientific method' (e.g., question, hypothesis, experiment, analysis, conclusion), yes, we are teaching a rigid, linear method, which will turn kids off from science -- at any grade. Also, such a 'scientific method' is not what scientists do, so we are not teaching real science this way. A lockstep procedure like that makes science seem like little more than a boring task, which is not at all what real science is like. What we CAN do, even at the lowest grades, is teach science as the fun activity that it really is: exploration and discovery. At its root, science is simply observing the world, asking a question about something you're curious about, and then trying (perhaps with a teacher's or mentor's guidance) to find a pathway to an answer.

No special terminology (e.g., hypothesis) is needed. Just let children explore and discover. That's something that can be done starting in kindergarten and even earlier, and if we organize all this exploration into a 'science fair,' it can become a huge celebration of discovery ... and fun!

Matt

Flavio Mendez Flavio Mendez 53031 Points

Hi Minnu, Here are some articles about Science Fairs: https://learningcenter.nsta.org/search/default.aspx?action=browse&text=science%20fair&price=&type=journal&subject=&topic=0&gradelevel=&sort=Relevancy&page=0&coll=&author= Take care, Flavio.

Cecilia Cardona Cecilia Cardona 1115 Points

I do not think third grade is too young for a science fair project. The main reason for a science fair is for students to answer a question or task by conducting a range of experiments and ongoing research in the short amount of time allocated to them allowing them to become interested in the phenomena. Science fair projects normally have a purpose, hypothesis, variables, experimental results, and a conclusion that are intended to teach students about the scientific method. A science fair does not have to be necessarily be public it can be done in the classroom and allow students to discuss their finding and become more familiar with a phenomena.

Katherine Teijeiro Katherine Teijeiro 660 Points

One of the downfalls with science fair projects that I have seen is that it can turn into parent competition. students whose parents are more involved in school matters or students with English speaking parents will always have an advantage over students whose parents are busy or don't speak English. You could think of a way to teach the same concept withing the classroom and leave the write up of conclusions and results as home learning assignments. This way all the students have a chance to complete the full experiment, where as at home, a lot of cutting corners or project recycling may occur. Sure, nice looking projects extended over a period of time look great, but realistically, it's homework for the parents.

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