Continuing with the Science Fair Projects

The last several weeks we have continued with the science fair.  The hardest part right now is getting students to come to class with things they say they will.  Many students may have had ideas on different projects but won’t follow through with what’s needed to get the supplies to class.  A lot of the students are growing plants and changing a variable, and measuring something such as the height of the plants.  The most disturbing thing that is that many students don’t even remember what their question is from week to week.  I feel like I’m having the same conversations every week, and often have to look up what question I have written down for their group and re-guide them into telling me their question.  For instance, we may have discussed for the last two weeks what they are measuring to collect data, but if I ask them their question, they still won’t say “Does the soil (Lawrence, KS soil vs. potting soil mix) affect the height of sage plants” etc.  They say their question is “soil.”  And I’ll ask them what they’re measuring and they’ll say “how it affect plants” or “plant health”.  I expected that when we first started discussing their questions, but I didn’t expect this still when they had settled on a question and had already planted their plants.

We’re now working on several fronts.  We’ve starting getting experiments set up — plants planted, bird feeders filled, etc.  We’re trying to get them to fill out their spirals (required by the district to go along with their report and display board).  We’re also trying to help them do some more background research.  They really need to do this soon so they can have that done before they can write hypotheses and take measurements.  We’ve learned that this is kind of challenging.  We know what we would look up, but it’s hard to explain to them what they need to investigate without just telling them “search for the phrase —.”  We did find a resource to help us figure out what questions to investigate.

So the next weeks will really be more of the same.  Setting up experiments, taking measurements, background research, and starting to document everything.  Hopefully we can lead them to a project that they find interesting and satisfying .  A lot of the kids are excited.  They’re making sure to water their plants and seem very satisfied to see the plants grow.  Hopefully that will continue and they can make connections with what they’re learning about biology.  And maybe the few students who are Really not into it will catch the excitement bug.

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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.

One Response to Continuing with the Science Fair Projects

  1. Robert C Everhart says:

    I’ve seen Mrs. Loeffler use that same question word table from the resource you linked, but I forgot to ask her where it came from. We went through it with the kids as a group, and while the initial questions weren’t that great “who invented…. the watershed?,” the questions that came out of those initial questions started to be more interesting, I think. I’ll definitely try and use this approach when we get to the projects.

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