I have pre-science fair nerves!
My students submitted their draft lab reports and I gave them lots of feedback. This has led to a flurry of activity on their side.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, a colleague has contacted some real scientists to come in and visit. I’m not sure if the local press are coming or if we’ll just take some photos and make some sort of a press release. I tried to buy trophies and prizes. They only got in contact to say they had run out of gold trophies yesterday. The prizes I ordered (pocket kites) are on their way but are coming from Germany and I just ordered them too late.
Lesson learned: decide you want trophies and prizes at least two weeks before the actual fair, don’t have a last minute brain wave.
What has been really interesting is how motivating having real scientist judges has been. My younger class have been doing a stand up job all the way through: making great plans, reports and posters. They have done this with minimal input from me. Really. One group had a minor falling out, some others needed a bit of inspiration and input with ‘where next’ or ‘what does THIS mean’ but I’ve hardly been involved at all. Even my students who want to double check everything with me before they start, they’ve double-checked a couple of things the whole unit.
My older class only really raised their game when they absorbed the message “experts are going to see this”. But raised their game they have: I heard them discussing when they could do extra work, when they could get things finished, which breaks they could work through. As a teacher who wants to make her students independent, this is the most gratifying part of the whole project. They are organising their time together to complete goals!
*High fiving a million angels*
They’ve also really taken the comments on their drafts to heart and have worked on improving their projects. I heard one group deciding who would work on the hypothesis, who would work on the conclusion, who would make the charts. I heard them using the comments as a basis to decide what to try next. How many times have I written out formative comments only to have them ignored because all the student was looking at was the grade? Comments easily take the most time and so it is great to see them inform future work.
I helped one group with spreadsheets, so now they are in a position to make charts and see patterns. Note to self: have some spreadsheet lessons soon. They say things like “oooooh!” and “WOW THAT SAVES TIME!” so it’s not like it would be a hard sell.
Anyway, I’m super excited about tomorrow but also very nervous because it’s my first try at this school. Once it is all over, I will put together a pack of resources in case others are interested in trying the same with their classes.