Have a Family Science Fair Workshop
The planning of the fair is in full swing. Excitement was generated by going into the classrooms. Kids went home and told their parents they want to do a project. Now what? Nervous parents have contacted you and don't know how to get started. The answer is to have a family science fair workshop.
The goals of the workshop should be:
1. To reassure the parents. The kids are 100% in, but the parents may not be sure of what is expected. A good science fair is age appropriate.
2. Excite the kids and the parents. Perform an experiment that is engaging, simple, and inexpensive. It should be in the same format as a science fair project. This will give the families a chance to see what is expected in a project.
3. Show the kids how to come up with an original idea. You want the kids leaving with a possible idea and feeling confident.
4. Families should leave with resources to help them start their project. It should contain the parts of the investigation, the layout for the board, sample judging forms, blank science journal, and links to great sites.
5. Provide some time for families to look through science books for ideas. Most kids will already know what they want to do, but a few will want to look through the books. Make sure to have a volunteer on hand to make copies for the families.
Family Science Fair Workshop Sample Lesson
Here is the layout I follow for my workshop
Sign in Table
At the sign-in table have the resource packet and experiment for students to pick up. Don't forget to have pencils available. While families wait for everyone to settle in they can look through the packet.
Welcome everyone to the workshop. Ask the following questions:
1. Who has done the fair before?
2. Who is nervous about doing the fair? (Many parents will raise their hands for this question.)
3. Does anyone know their topic?
Explain to the parents that the goals of the fair are to make it age appropriate. It is best to keep projects simple so students can focus on what the experiment is teaching them. Projects do not need to be expensive. We don't intend families to spend lots of money on an expensive science kit. Tell families that you will show them how a project can be simple, inexpensive, and create a memorable experience. Explain that we understand that kids all have different attention spans. A kindergarten project is much different than a 5th grade project. It should be different.
First we will start by conducting a simple investigation. Have them work together as a family. Explain that this investigation is in the same format as a science fair project.
Perform a Science Investigation
Choose an investigation that follows the scientific method. I like to make sure I have one that is in booklet form and will follow the layout of the blank science journal.
This year I did "Dangling Ice" with families. This one worked perfectly. All families had great results. I also like it because I was able to do the experiment with about 50 kids for under $5.00. It really shows families how simple an experiment can be, but create fun results. I really enjoyed watching the families work together.
Teach Students the Four Question Strategy
Bring the students up to the front of the room. Using a white board have the following questions written on it. I like using cookies as an example. It shows something they are familiar with and something parents can also relate too.
1. What do cookies do? How do cookies act?
2. What supplies do I need to do on an experiment on cookies?
3. How can I change the supplies I use for baking cookies?
4. What can a measure about the cookies? This is the toughest question for kids. Remind them to think of what they would measure after baking them to know what might be different.
After answering the questions we choose one supply to change and one measurement. I then show them how that can be changed into an investigation question. Make sure to show the students how many possible investigations you came up with about cookies by using just those 4 questions.
Does the amount of baking soda affect the size of a cookie?
Does the brand of flour affect the texture of a cookie?
What is the effect of the type of cookie sheet on the hardness of a cookie?
Download the free 4 Question Strategy Sample Worksheets to give to Families the night of the workshop. They are a PDF file. Just click to open and then save to your computer.