Science Fair Warm-Up, Teachers Guide: Learning the Practice of Scientists

by: John Haysom

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Even science fair enthusiasts may dread grappling with these two questions:
1. How can you organize many students doing many different projects at the same time?
2. How can you help students while giving them the freedom of choice and independence of thought that characterize genuine inquiry?
Answer the questions—and face science fairs without fear—with help from the Science Fair Warm-Up series.

The Science Fair Warm-Up series, which was originally designed as a three-year program for middle school students, now covers grades 5–12. The book for grades 5–8 introduces students to science fairs and invites them to investigate various scientific problems as they work on their projects. This book lays the foundation for the editions for grades 7–10 and 8–12, in which students encounter increasingly more challenging problems. Over the course of the series, the students are encouraged to become more independent.

The series’ material—field tested over the course of six years with students at different levels—will help your students develop the inquiry skills to carry their projects through, whether they’re middle schoolers preparing for their first science fair or high schoolers ready for very challenging investigations. It aligns with national standards and the new Framework for K-12 Science Education. Science Fair Warm-Up uniquely provides an authentic picture of how scientists carry out research.

To help you meet these teaching goals, this series is based on the constructivist view that makes students responsible for their own learning and will prepare both you and your students for science fair success

"An exciting publication that engages students and fills a need for innovative and conscientious teachers. Students and teachers are likely to encounter real science with the ideas, approaches, and questions the materials encourage.”
—Robert Yager, Professor Emeritus at the University of Iowa and past president of NSTA

Table of Contents


The Story of a Curriculum Project: Acknowledgments

About the Author

Introduction and Overview

The Purpose of the Curriculum Materials

Nature of Science and Scientific Inquiry

Pedagogic Strategy

Inquiry and Student Independence

Structure of Curriculum

Content Overview

Safety in the Classroom

Chapter 1: Starting Points

Chapter 2: An Overview of the Nature of Scientific Inquiry

Chapter 3: Science Without Numbers

Chapter 4: The Numbers Game

Chapter 5: Variables and Their Control

Chapter 6: Experiment Design

Chapter 7: Sources of Error

Chapter 8: Making Sense of Your Results

Chapter 9: Explanations

Chapter 10: Sharing Your Findings

Chapter 11: Judging Projects

Chapter 12: Generating Ideas for Projects


Appendix A. Blackline Master for Starting Point 1 and Lesson 3*

Appendix B. Learning to Play the Numbers Game—Worksheet

Download a sample chapter

Grade Levels

Elementary High School Middle School


Assessment Curriculum General Science Science and Engineering Practices Teacher Preparation Teaching Strategies


Type NSTA Press BookPub Date 11/15/2012ISBN 978-1-936959-23-5Stock # PB328X2

NSTA Press produces classroom-ready activities, hands-on approaches to inquiry, relevant professional development, the latest scientific education news and research, assessment and standards-based instruction.

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