But it doesn't have to be that way. Scientific investigations can harness students natural curiosity and enthusiasm for learning about the world around them. These investigations are some of the most rewarding learning experiences students can undertake because they are asked to identify problems, form hypotheses, test ideas and adjust their thinking. Science's built-in appeal gives students to play with ideas that ignite their imaginations and in turn lead to authentic explorations that go beyond erupting table-top volcanoes, growing plants under different light sources and testing the speed of toy cars going down ramps of various heights.
How to get started? The Santa Fe Alliance for Science offers these tips.
Steps for Doing a Science Project:
- Ask a question that interests you.
- Do some reading about it.
- Make a prediction (hypothesis).
- Plan an experiment to test your question.
- Do the experiment and measure the result.
- Change one thing and measure the result.
- Test each change several times (many trials).
- Do your results prove your prediction? If not, why?
Parents, teachers and students: You’ll find links to many helpful resources for preparing a good project on the science fair page of the SFAFS website, such as Choosing a Project, Characteristics of a Good Science Fair Project, Hints for Data Collection, Questions Judges May Ask at a Science Fair, a 12-minute video on How to Do a Science Fair Project, and much more.
In addition to providing volunteer judges for science fairs, SFAFS’s cadre of scientists and engineers offer tutoring, mentoring, professional development and in-school programs. Visit the website, sfafs.org, if you would like to sign up as a science fair judge, classroom tutor, science fair support or in other activity.
Save the Date! Innovation Expo Feb. 13
The science fairs being conducted this winter at many local public and private elementary through high schools will culminate at the annual district-wide fair, Innovation Expo: Full STEAM Ahead, presented by the Santa Fe Public Schools in alliance with SFAFS, Feb. 13 at the Santa Fe Convention Center, 201 W. Marcy Street.
The morning will be devoted to student and judge interviews (closed to the public) of winners in individual school competitions. The Expo opens to the public at 5 p.m., showcasing STEAM (that’s science, technology, engineering, art and math) programs in our local schools and businesses, internship and career opportunities, exhibitions and hands-on, interactive activities. For more information or to enroll your school or group to participate, contact Chari Kauffman, SFPS science coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (505) 467-2515.
Judy Reinhartz is a professor emeritus at the University of Texas at El Paso and a board member of the Santa Fe Alliance for Science. This post is excerpted from her article in the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Tumbleweeds.