A teacher recently wrote Science Buddies and asked how to get kids to sign up to participate in a (new) science fair because he was finding that kids "don't want to do extra work." It would be great to hear from science fair veterans with some ideas on this topic. Anyone want to add to this list (or contradict it)?
Here is a short list of some ideas:
1) Be sure to allow enough time so that the extra work of the science fair project can be done in small steps over time and won't seem overwhelming. Several months with clear milestones is ideal. See the schedule planner in our Teacher Resources area.
2) Make the science fair project is a class assignment that gets graded. Optional science fairs aren't as motivating.
3) If you can't make it a class requirement, offer participants incentives such as extra credit in class or extra school or classroom privileges (first in lunch line, get to make an announcement on the PA, front row seats at an assembly, etc.).
4) Will your budget allow prizes of any kind? Announce prizes in advance, even if they are small. Ribbons, certificates, or medals are nice. Check with your local Baskin Robbins or McDonald's to see if they will grant the school some gift certificates. Gift certificates for roller rinks, Walmart, movie theaters or other kid-friendly places would also be good.
5) Invite visitors to the fair and to any prep sessions (parents, the principal, community members) and make sure kids know that special guests will be coming to see their work.
6) Let students know their projects and names will be publicly recognized. Tell them that there will be a story about them in the school newsletter or website. Put up a bulletin board honoring the winners. Have the principal mention them or present them at a school assembly.
7) Make sure your fair is judged -- knowing their work will be judged is a motivator for many students.