Using the scientific method
Feb. 4, 2013
by Jenni Sebora

It is science fair time at various schools throughout the state, including the schools of the Sebora children.

Our oldest child is now a sophomore. Our middle child is an eighth-grader. They have both been through the science experiment process several times, but now, our third-grade daughter is deep in the process.

Third-grade students in her school have the option to participate. It was not an option, according to her, however. She loves this kind of stuff. She has had her idea since last year and has just been waiting to implement it.

Our daughter has been knee-deep in her project for a few weeks now, and is finally at the results and conclusion stage. She has finished the word processing of all the required steps and information.

First, what is the purpose of the investigation? What are you trying to learn or discover?

She needs to research what is known about the topic, then it is time to make an educated guess, or the hypothesis.

One must identify the independent variables (what is being changed?) and dependent variables (what you are measuring), and the controls (that which stays the same), such as time of measurement is the same for each independent variable.

This is probably the hardest for kids to figure out. It is confusing. I know I have been through this with my children over the course of the past several years.

It is time for action. Complete the experiment. Don’t forget to do at least two trials. Observe. Gather data.

What are the results, and what is concluded? Did the results support or negate your hypothesis? What would you do differently if you would do it again?

I think, I can orally repeat these steps in my sleep.

So, doing a science fair project isn’t just about doing a fun project, it really is about following the scientific process. If kids choose a topic/project that interests them, completing the process is more interesting and fun.

When students are done with the process, they then must present their information visually on a presentation board and in a journal/binder.

Students can be creative. What will the title of your project be? What color will your board be? Will you have some photographs displayed of you completing your experiment? How will you display your data?

Wow. Those are a lot of decisions and a lot of work.

Then, it is presentation time. I love this part. Students must answer questions about their projects. Judges ask such questions as, “Why did you choose this experiment? How did you do it? What were your results?” It helps students practice their verbal skills.

Verbal skills. Creativity. Science. Writing skills. Students can learn about a subject. Learn by doing. Evaluate the results. Present those results. Different learning methods are implemented when kids participate in this scientific method.

My husband and I have traveled with our kids for the last several years to the regional/state science fair, because we both feel very strongly that it is such a great experience for our kids – and all kids.

The ideas presented by all of the students participating in the science fair are amazing. Our future is in good hands.

Not to mention, my husband and I love the café/coffee shop that is within walking distance of the science fair location. It is a day we always look forward to.

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