Teacher Tools Extra Credit Science Project
Extra CreditSubmitted by Cindy Fong, a science teacher at Hilo Intermediate School in Hilo, Hawaii.
Boost student and family science fair attendance.
All grades, but particularly appropriate for middle school and high school.
Give extra credit to students if they bring a family member or mentor to visit the science fair.
Let students know about the chance to earn extra credit a few weeks before the science fair so they have time to select and notify a family member or mentor, and so that person has time to arrange schedules to attend.
Determine where to apply the extra credit, whether it's to the science project itself or to another assignment, as well as how much to assign, based on what is appropriate at your school. The submitter, Ms. Fong, provides points on a semi-sliding scale. For instance, her homework assignments are generally worth 10 points, so she provides 25-30 points, depending on the student's level. If she has more struggling students involved, she provides them with more points as an incentive to ask their family member or mentor to attend. Not only was the extra credit a motivator for many students, but looking forward to a family member or mentor attending inspired many of the struggling students to follow through and finish their projects. Knowing they completed what they set out to do elevated their self-confidence.
Implement this idea only if the science fair takes place at least partly outside normal work hours, so that all families and mentors have a chance to attend.
Ask each student to find and check in with you at the science fair so you can track student and guest attendance in order to correctly assign the extra credit.
- Increased attendance by families, especially in middle school when students aren't often eager to be seen with their parents. At Hilo Intermediate School, teachers were "flabbergasted" by the increased attendance. Attendance has doubled and tripled as a result of this tool.
- Greater accountability for students: students will work harder to improve projects that they know will be seen by family members or mentors and that will provide them with extra credit. These motivations also drove them to finish their projects, giving them a strong sense of accomplishment. Many also receive a boost to their self-esteem if they receive an award or positive feedback, realizing they are in control of their futures.