Teachers Parents Students

Our First Science Fair

Hi everyone my name is Brian Hayes. I am going to be a guest teacher blogger here at Science Buddies sharing my experiences as I attempt to start up and run a science fair at my school this fall.

Here is a little about me so you know who you're dealing with:

  • I teach at a charter school in the Rodgers Park neighborhood of Chicago.
  • It is a school of about 550 and serves kids in grades 6-12.
  • I teach AP Biology for mostly seniors and Earth and Space Science for freshmen.
  • The Earth and Space Science class took me awhile to get used to, but now I am really enjoying it.
  • This will be my third year at the school. Prior to that, I taught at Jefferson High School in Portland, OR.

This will be the first year our school will have its own science fair.

My school has been putting students into science fairs around the country for the last couple of years. For the most part, this has involved high-achieving students who have worked on a short-term project with a teacher and then entered one of the science fairs. One of my students made it through to the city fair last year. She did a great project looking at the effect of salinity on seed germination.

Our goal this year is to get many more students involved in doing projects during the first semester and then have our own science fair in December. The results of our school science fair will then determine which students go on to compete at other fairs.

This is the first year our school has had an official point-person in charge of extra science events and our own fair. I'm not sure exactly what the administration wants to see, and I don't know exactly what our science fair is going to look like. I am not sure if it will include all students or only certain groups. The school is moving into a new building, and I have been unable to meet with the principal about this since I was assigned the position. So, I'm feeling a little behind. Without some of these details in place and decided upon, my ability to plan for a December science fair and gain the support of other teachers in my school to help get more students involved is limited.

In the end, I think it will all work out. I am sure it will be nerve racking and a lot of work, but I think it will all be worth it. I was so relieved when I met the Vice President of Science Buddies at a program this summer. The resources I have found on the Science Buddies website will help me support both teachers and students at my school. I want to do this because when I did my student teaching in Portland, I worked with a teacher who made all of her students do a science fair project. The really good ones she would enter in the city's regional competitions.

While I was student teaching there, I worked with two girls who designed and ran their experiment and went on to decent success at the city science fair. What was so amazing was that the girl who helped pull it all together for this pair was the one who was flunking the class. She didn't study and could barely recall information that she should have brought with her from middle school, but she got really into the science fair project. She was there every day after school researching and asking questions about the project – finally excited to learn. If that happens for even one of the students at my school, I will feel like it has all been worth it.

Well I look forward to sharing my science fair journey with you. Stay tuned to find out how I go about getting buy-in from other teachers and then how I tackle getting the students involved. ( I can't wait to bring in the laptops and use the Topic Selection Wizard with the students!)

~ Brian

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