Inside: Science fair projects are an important part of STEM learning. Whether your child wins a science fair trophy or not, they can sharpen their critical thinking skills and develop a greater appreciation for the world around them. *There are affiliate links within this post. If you click and buy I make a small commission but at no cost to you.
Science fair projects are an important part of STEM learning. Many schools encourage their kids to get involved in state or city fairs. Some classes make a science fair project part of their grading process. I remember participating in more than a few science fairs during my elementary school years. I loved the process of choosing a topic, designing my experiment and presenting my findings to the judging panel. It was a fantastic learning experience. My own kids did not have the same experience although science fair participation became more prominent later on in their school.
How can Parents Help with Science Fair Projects?
As a parent, you might start to panic when your child returns home from school with a list of things they’ll need for the annual science fair. Before you start shopping around for the lowest price on three-fold display boards, take a moment to consider the bigger picture. Children are naturally curious about exploring new things. Science projects help them to strengthen their reasoning and build skills they’ll need to master future technology in the workplace and in their personal lives. Pitch in by providing psychological and practical support that will make the science fair one step in enhancing their all-round science education.
Tips on Providing Psychological Support
1. Teach economics.
Comedians like to say that science fairs test this hypothesis. Kids whose parents are prepared to spend the most do better in science fairs. If you’re concerned about the cost of certain supplies, talk with your child’s teacher about substitutions. Many great projects require nothing more than ordinary household items. And we should not kid ourselves. Most science fair project judges are capable of figuring out which kids are doing the work on their own vs parent created projects.
2. Encourage leadership.
Show your enthusiasm, but ensure your child stays in charge of the activities. Their project is their responsibility.
3. Demonstrate collaboration.
Scientists succeed by sharing information and building on each other’s discoveries. Bring out your child’s class spirit by taking an interest in their friends’ projects too. You may even want to ask about volunteering to assist the whole class. Especially in the lower grades, parent help with class science fairs is usually much appreciated.
4. Provide an audience.
While your child is guiding the proceedings, you can serve as a sounding board and cheerleader. Ask helpful questions and praise their efforts. This provides a great way for your child to practice for the big day. If you can ask them unexpected questions, that’s even better for getting them ready for the judging process.
5. Celebrate victories.
Your child can feel like a winner even if the judges decide to recognize other entries. Plan a special ceremony when you arrive back home with cake and prizes. Surprise them with a membership at the local science museum or their very own telescope.
6. Cultivate a love for science.
The most valuable takeaway from the evening is stimulating your child’s interest in learning and experimentation. Incorporate science lessons into your daily lives.
7. Have fun.
While education is serious, your child will learn more when they’re enjoying themselves. Think positive and be creative.
Tips on Providing Practical Support
1. Select an appropriate subject.
Picking a topic is the first step. You may want to present options that reflect your child’s personal interests in soccer or horses. But also, you want to keep the question they are working on not too hard but also not too easy. Keep their age and abilities in mind and help them find something that is challenging but not impossible.
2. Conduct research.
Younger children will need pointers on how to go about a scientific inquiry. Brainstorm on keywords and visit the library together. Assemble a reading list and talk about how to take notes and organize data. It is likely the classroom teacher will provide guidance on this as well but kids often succeed better when parents are involved.
3. Arrange transportation.
Many schools will require those display boards to be dropped off a few days before the fair itself. Consult the schedule and make room in your car.
4. Manage time.
In fact, going over the schedule with your child will help you to meet all the interim and final deadlines. Work backwards from the day of the fair to figure out how much time you need for each step, and build in time for unexpected delays.
5. Monitor safety.
As the adult, you’ll need to keep an eye out for any safety hazards. Provide close supervision if there’s electricity or chemicals involved. If necessary, teach your child the proper use of protective equipment like goggles or gloves.
Participating in science fairs is a fantastic way to improve STEM skills. Whether your child wins a science fair trophy or not, they can sharpen their critical thinking skills and develop a greater appreciation for the world around them. Working on science fair projects gives you an opportunity to spend time together and participate in enhancing your child’s education.
Learn more about the scientific method and easy experiments using the scientific method by reading the posts below.
- 8 Steps of the Scientific Method You Need to Know
- Using the Scientific Method with Simple Experiments
Need some Materials for Your Kids Science Fair? Amazon can Help