Science fair projects- combining learning with ease
Science fair projects are normally intended to demonstrate scientific concepts on a small scale. They normally have the purpose to teach students about some specific science methods in a way other than the class lectures. Students are given an opportunity to do research on given question or task. This leads to literature review followed by a set of related experiments conducted by them under the guidance of their master. This is then concluded with the help of related graphs, a layout of the experimental procedures, display boards and/or some working or nonworking models to demonstrate. These science fairs are generally organized by schools or some organization or state. The efforts of the students are displayed in the fair where they are judged and questioned to determine their scientific merit. The preeminent among them is rewarded with the prize.
The students are given a list of tasks much before the fair so they can primarily choose a single task of interest and can start the research. The research needs to be guided by their teacher. A single teacher cannot guide the whole class as he may not be the expert in all the disciplines. The student should explore various sources of information in order to gain a thorough understanding of the topic that he or she has chosen. These sources may include books, internet and related research papers (for the students of higher standards). The students should start their experimental portion not much later than their literature review. This will lead to a more clear understanding of the task.
In order to prepare an attractive project, one needs to follow the following steps.
1. Introduction of the task
2. Literature review
3. Experimental work
4. Summarizing the experimental work (using graphs, tables etc).
5. Preparing some model to demonstrate the experimental work.
As the assigned project has to be judged at some level, mostly in the science fairs or may be a research scholar presenting his area of research in some seminar, they need to be good enough to attract the judges as well as the visitors. For the project to be fair enough one needs to consider the following points.
1. The project to be presented should be neat and tidy, well kept and well ordered.
2. Should strictly follow the theme. This doesn't confine the student to have limited knowledge rather it restricts the student to present his work within certain boundaries and to be prepare to answer the related queries.
3. Should be according to the students grade, should not be of extremely high level.
4. The project to be presented should be preferably working with some effects of light and sound as it attracts the visitors and judges.
5. Should be conceptually new not the copy paste of old models. If not so, it may be some old concept with some new way of presenting it.
6. The downfalls of the project should also be clearly explained.
7. Should contain a project report also, with brief theory and explanation of the concept.
8. Should contain some funny themes also as this impresses the visitors a lot. Like in place of a simple LED one can place some covered box which gets open with a kick or a monsters face.
9. The model should not be very simple too. This reflects the ease with which it is made lowering its impression on the judges.
The inspiration behind the science fair projects vanishes when in place of learning the subject through experiments and literature, they are made either by parents or by some project trainer. This needs to be taken care of significantly.
There is another idea, though not seen much, to have some science fair by school teachers. The motive is to teach the science themes effectively. This is the human tendency to learn the concept faster by observing, than by simply reading or listening it. The same concept is working behind the PowerPoint presentations nowadays in primary and senior classes; perhaps the idea of developing 3D models by the teachers is very rare in practice.
Contrary to the points mentioned above, for the models to be displayed by teachers for explanation purpose, here are some qualities that need to be the part of an excellent model.
1. Again it must be neat and tidy.
2. Need not to be strictly on a single topic. As it is for the explanation purpose, it is the distinction of a teacher to use a single model for the explanation of more than one concept.
3. Same as above, the effects will be enhanced for the models enriched with lights and sound effects.
4. Should be according to the grade of the students so the students can grasp the concept easily.
5. Need not to be conceptually new always. As the teacher will be taking the help of models to explain the existing phenomena usually.
6. The concept should be very clearly demonstrated so that the students can find its shortcomings easily.
7. The teacher should provide the printed explanation of the concept also.
8. Should not be much funny otherwise the students get distracted form the actual concept.
9. The model should be very simple so that all students with different mental states can learn the concept easily.
Once a project is displayed in the science fair, it will be encouraging for the student to get the winning prize. But, the real success lies in the knowledge he or she gains while working on the same theme. It is the duty of a guide the guide to give moral support to the student at every step.