My “Research Group” Model for Science Fair

A teacher friend posted this on my Facebook wall:


It seems everyone dreads science fair but me – no one likes science fair. Teachers say it’s a lot of work. Students say it’s a lot of work. Parents say it’s a lot of work. Well, it is a lot of work.  I was thinking back to what I enjoyed about my projects. I enjoyed the science, I enjoyed the fairs. I loved winning prizes. I loved knowing I was a scientist.

There is a weird (and I think artificial) thing that happens with science fairs – an over emphasis on doing the whole thing alone. Problem is, scientists don’t really work alone, do they?

My first goal this year for science fair (which is well underway in my class!) is that we will build a community of learners in our classroom. Even though we are doing different projects and have different goals, we will chip away at the tasks ahead, and work together to achieve them. I’m thinking of this as the “Research Group” model (yep – like grad school). We will meet throughout the year, discuss the ideas we are working on, and get feedback from each other. We will raise each other up. We will read each other’s papers (peer review), we will look and and evaluate each other’s data analysis (more peer review), and discuss our display and presentations before the science fair (more peer review). Does the writing make sense? Will the data generated by the experiment answer the question? Does the presentation of data convince the audience? Does your analysis lead to more questions?

I will be at every fair my students are at, up through state. We will support one another on fair days with water and snacks or glue and post-it notes and sharpies. We will have the presentation done early, not 15 minutes before we leave for the fair (me? I never did that!) and we will accomplish our projects with the help of our peers, because that’s what scientists do.

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