Science Fair — More of the same

We’re still working on science fair questions, and will be for one more week. This is partly because it takes a long time to talk to each student/group of students and interactively direct them to a good problem for them. But partly because it’s hard to get a whole class period to work on this. They have a lot of standards they’re responsible for, so things like vocabulary often take up a decent amount of time. I’m not complaining–that’s just the reality of the classroom and the amount of material they’re supposed to get through in these short, 42 minute classes.

Once again, I ended up talking to a lot of the students I’ve already talked to, because they’re the ones that finish their other work the fastest. I talked to a few more groups this week, but many of them had no clue what they wanted to do.  A lot of them want to do experiments on animals–most of which we have to say no to.  We’ve told them that it’s best to stick to invertebrates so they don’t have to go through the review committee to get approval.  Others we’ve just mentioned wouldn’t be very feasible because of the numbers of subjects they would need.  For instance, it probably is not feasible to compare bioluminescence of male and female scorpions, because they would need more than 1 of each sex–both expensive and resource heavy.  Some of the project ideas that students are doing are the following:

  • Comparing plan growth with and without the presence of CO2 (through dry ice).  He pretty much came up with this idea, with very little guidance.  He said he really wanted to do something with dry ice.  I brought up that dry ice was CO2, and he pretty much took it from there.  He has 2 aquariums at home and some plant lights, and is going to add some dry ice to one of the tanks.
  • Comparing the sweetening agents of homemade Kombucha.  She came up with this idea on her own, but has needed some prompting in figuring out something measurable.  She’ll say things like “I want to see how using different sweeteners (cane sugar, honey, etc.) affects the kombucha.”  So I’ve tried to get her to think about what specifically she’ll be measuring to be able to collect data.
  • Several groups want to compare water sources.  Several groups want to observe biodiversity in different sources.  One group wants to measure O2 levels in several water sources.
  • Many of the students are growing plants.  This has been sort of the default project idea for those who haven’t come up with something.  It’s a little bit easier for some students.  We’ve basically told them they need to pick one thing to change, and pick what they’re measuring.
What’s awesome about the group is most of them are genuinely excited about the science fair.  They’ll stop by between classes and ask Mrs. Battaglia whether they can do a certain things.  She said these 6th graders have a much different attitude towards this than her 9th graders have had in previous years.  So, hopefully they can do something they think is interesting and keep up their excitement for years to come.  Next week we’ll have the whole class period for science fair.  By the end of the class everyone needs to have their question picked and approved.  Then we’ll have them identify the dependent and independent variables and start designing their experimental procedure.
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About Megan Peck

PhD student in Computer Science at the University of Kansas. Formerly a fellow in the NSF GK-12 program through KU.
This entry was posted in 2011-2012 GK12, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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