Science Fair Fundamentals
Science Fair programs are awesome and can generate all sorts of amazing results from inspiring and engaging projects. Finding good resources that outline the process and suggest age-appropriate topics is a key component for getting students started. Another important factor is to involve parents so that they can assist their children throughout the process. Be sure to visit these CyberBee-selected Web sites for resources, tips, and experiments that will help jump-start your science fair program.
SCIENCE PROJECT RESOURCES
All Science Fair Projects
Search or browse more than 500 science fair topics with descriptions, grade level, and links to the featured Web sites. This database of information has been compiled and indexed for easy searching. At the time this column was written, there was no fee for the service.
IPL Kidspace: Science Fair Project Resource Guide
The Internet Public Library has prepared an annotated list of science fair resources that can be used with students ranging in age from 10 to18. This resource list is designed to cover a variety of topics such as the scientific method, what makes a good project, and choosing a topic. There is an extensive list of Ask the Experts for those students who might need some additional help in answering a specific question related to their topic. The IPL Kidspace is one of the best starting places for finding resources.
Planet Ag Science Fair Projects
What is irradiation and how is it used in the fresh fruit and vegetable industries? How does the soil on hills differ from the soil in valleys? These are examples of agricultural science fair projects promoted on Planet Ag sponsored by the Florida Agricultural Department. In addition to suggestions for projects, there is a brief introduction to the scientific method and why you might choose agriculture to study. Rounding out the site is Florida Farm Facts, Information for Teachers, and Careers in Ag Science.
School Science Fairs Homepage
If you are looking for science fair project ideas, make School Science Fairs Homepage your first stop. It provides a comprehensive list of science fair topics organized by grade level, from primary through high school. Suggestions for the lower grades are geared toward demonstrations and models while ideas for the upper grades focus on experimentation and sophisticated investigation.
Science Fair Central
Tap into the resources of Janice VanCleave, who has written more than 45 books about science and science fairs. From the nuts and bolts of putting a project together to a database of questions and answers, there is a wealth of information for students, teachers, and parents. Tip sheets in categories such as astronomy, biology, chemistry, and physics guide students through the inquiry process—from developing a question to designing an experiment. Teachers will find the science fair organizer, which includes a letter to parents, checklists, and evaluation criteria, to be a big timesaver. Parents will benefit from the Helping Your Young Scientist Guide, which is full of suggestions on how to choose a topic, how much time is needed, and where to find more information. Begin your science fair preparation by visiting this site first.
Science Project Handbook
Want a model handbook to assist students with the science fair process? The Science Project Handbook written for Collier County Schools, Florida, is a great example. It is well-organized and contains information ranging from why you should do a science project to expectations, a timeline, glossary, categories, choosing a topic, data checklists, the display, and judging criteria.
Super Science Fair Projects
Areas for students, teachers, and parents abound with ideas and step-by-step instructions. Once you master the site's navigation, you will be rewarded with loads of comprehensive information, tips, and links to Web sites on a variety of topics.
Ultimate Science Fair Resource
For a quick reference on organizing your project, visit the Ultimate Science Fair Resource page sponsored by the Society for Amateur Scientists. Here you will find project steps, project hints, the scientific method, writing reports, display boards, an idea bank, and science research links. Each area is concisely written and easy to understand. In addition, you can ask Dr. John questions and he will respond within a day or two.
This collection of sites will entice young minds to experiment using the scientific method in both traditional and unusual ways.
Be a Popcorn Scientist
Hypothesize these ideas. What method of popping will produce the most volume of popcorn? Which brand of popcorn has the best taste? How much moisture is in a kernel of popped corn? Try these experiments and more on the PopWeaver Web site. Then, click on "what's poppin'" to learn more about the types of popped kernels, expansion, and moisture.
At present, BrainPOP has more than 80 original, animated movies covering health, science, and technology topics. The movies are excellent for explaining basic concepts like the scientific method or Newton's Laws. Content is based on the National Science Education Standards. However, it is a commercial site that charges a subscription fee if you want to view more than two movies per day. Subscription fees vary depending on use. A teacher account with a maximum of 35 logins per day is $144.45 for 12 months. A family account for use on home computers is $79 for 12 months.
Exploratorium Science Snacks
These bite-sized experiments will hook your students to delve deeper into science. Make glass disappear, create a battery with your skin and two different metals, or suspend a ball in a stream of air. There are lots of 5-minute experiments or demonstrations that can be expanded into longer ones. A discussion group is available to ask more questions, send comments, or share results.
Science NetLinks is part of the MarcoPolo Education Foundation. It features standards-based lesson plans that incorporate reviewed Internet resources and that are organized around Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Lesson plans are written for the teacher, but include student-ready materials. Lessons can be sorted by title, grade range, and benchmark. Internet resources are selected through a rigorous set of criteria and may be sorted according to benchmarks and grade range. Several multimedia tools are needed for the interactive portions of the site, including Adobe Acrobat Reader, Real Player, Shockwave, Flash, and QuickTime.
Introduce the physics of force and motion by racing Slinkys. Pose questions about potential and kinetic energy, gravity, inertia, and longitudinal waves. Have students develop their own physics experiments. Under Slinky Tidbits, you will learn about some innovative uses of the Slinky such as a radio antenna during the Vietnam War. Other engineering activities include manufacturing a CD crate, creating a carton, and exploring plastics.
The T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project
Not even the most reluctant learner can ignore this cleverly constructed Web page. Tongue-in-cheek humor is used to describe procedures, observations, and possible applications when experimenting with cream-stuffed sponge cakes. Nuke them in a microwave to find out just how resistant they are to radiation. Dunk them in water to see their solubility. Blend them to see how much air they contain.
Goop to go, Tacky tape, and Pasta with Pep are examples of chemistry experiments that will intrigue students. Each experiment includes a list of materials, instructions, things to think about, and a concluding "what's going on here." Each step is artfully illustrated and appealing to the intended audience.
Be sure to visit the MultiMedia & Internet@Schools home page [http://www.infotoday.com/MMSchools] with active links to all of the Web sites mentioned in this article. Then fly over to CyberBee
[http://www.cyberbee.com] for more curriculum ideas, research tools, and activities to use with your students and staff, such as CyberBee's Science Fair. Topics include what makes a good science fair project, attention-getting characteristics, selection tips by grade level, stating the question, and the research process. Printable worksheets and a list of scientific supply companies are included.
Linda Joseph is the author of
Net Curriculum: An Educator's Guideto Using the Internet, published by CyberAge Books. The recipient of numerousawards, in addition to her work in the Columbus Public Schools and the Libraryof Congress, Linda is a part-time instructor for Ohio State University. Communicationsto the author may be addressed to her at Columbus Public Schools, 737 East HudsonStreet, Columbus, OH 43211; 614/365-5277; firstname.lastname@example.org.