Why have a Science Fair

Science Fair is so much fun!

My first experience with Science Fair was in a London school, my head of department said she had been sceptical at first but found that she could teach much more efficiently after the cohort had gone through the experience.

When I started work in a Danish school, I decided to have an annual Science Fair for my 7th and 8th graders. I am so glad that I did! I have some great photos and videos to remind me of their hard work and engagement with science. In that school, there was no way of setting up a hall with poster boards of results, so we just had to demonstrate the experiments to the younger students in the lab. This worked well but of course, students were able to blend in the crowd a little too much and were not put on the spot as much as I would have liked.

Now I am working on Science Fair in my current school. We have a hall that I can use, so I am keen to have them present their results in a more public way. We also have links with the local business and academic community, so I am hopeful we can involve them.

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Science Day

My school decided to celebrate Science Day on 20th February this year.
We don’t exactly have a lot of resources or space to put on big events. I was glad I hadn’t planned a big event in the hall when the ceiling needed to be replaced that day!
We are a school for 3-15 year olds. The kindergarten are way out of my expertise, so their teachers organised something exciting with kitchen sink science.
For the older students, I made a presentation and display about science presentation to inspire them into thinking science might be something for them.
On the practical side, I found some science day that could be done with some sheets of paper and school stationery. One was about measuring and checking optical illusions, the other was for designing and experimenting on paper helicopters.
In the end, many of my colleagues had experiments that fitted in with their current theme which suited them better.
I’ve been involved in several high school science days. My first was about the science and maths of espionage. I would love to do that one again but it requires resources and facilities we simply do not have.
Another was bringing the science of solvents to life with a real life application of running a chemical cleanup. Again, exciting and inspiring but needs resources and space. Plus, those activities are very much for teens and would not work with 7 year olds.
I’d judge the day as a muted success even though it was a bit bitty. Our students had the chance to experiment and discuss what scientists do, after all.
Next year, I’ll try to get a budget and time on the calendar to meet with my colleagues to plan.

Wikispaces update

I promised to write what happened when the other school got involved.

Unfortunately, not much. My partner teacher left a comment on the page and showed the wiki to his class. Other than that, not much happened.

It was poor luck that our schedules didn’t line up to give better collaboration. You win some, you lose some.

As part of their final assessment, the class had to reflect on what they’d learned. Funnily enough, very few answered that question. They have very interesting presentations about what they knew and understood but they hardly touched how they learned or what was interesting for them.

I filmed them present. This was very useful for grading purposes, I could be fully there for their presentation on the second viewing.

My plan is to cut their presentations together so we have a record and something new to share with our partner school.