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How to Survive the Science Fair Experience (For Parents)

— The Ohio State University Extension Breads of the Harvest
Updated on Apr 23, 2014

The Science fair can be a traumatic time for parents. They frequently feel the need to shoulder the burden throughout the experience. We forget that these are middle school children. They need support and encouragement obviously, but the work should be their own. The teacher will provide that technical assistance; you be the cheerleader.

Children:

  • learn far more and take more pride in their project if it is theirs.
  • will put the project off too long no matter what you do. Frequently procrastination is a sign of insecurity - not knowing what to do next. The teachers will monitor progress on this end, but together with you, we can do a far better job.
  • will want to look for the "perfect" topic; it doesn't exist. They should find something that is interesting and which is doable. Once they get up and going and take ownership, any topic will become interesting.
  • will usually take on more than they can handle. Help them narrow the topic.

What are the most important factors in a good project?

  • a lot of good, numerical data that is analyzed and presented well
  • a controlled test - no other variables affecting the results
  • as much background reading as possible
  • a good conclusion
  • whether the student understands the topic and did the work themselves

What isn't as important as people think?

  • the display - This is not an art contest. The display is 5% of the judging score.
  • your help - The teacher should provide the technical assistance, but you are important as a cheerleader.

How much will it all cost($$$)?

Children do not need to get involved with a costly project. Most projects involve almost no cost at all. They will need a Project Display Board. The Science Department will have a number of these on sale for much cheaper than you will find them in a store. Why not economize; save a large piece of cardboard. It will do just fine.

Please:

  • Have your child speak up to the teacher when there is a problem. If they are not satisfied, please contact us at the school.
  • Respect our professionalism by supporting our decisions regarding topics. With many years of experience, we know that certain topics pose dangers or have a high rate of failure. Our goal is to make this a positive learning experience for every child.
  • Keep an eye on the schedule, and help us on this end.
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