It's been a whole week since I last posted! Where did the time go?
For the past 5 years I've set up the Coudersport Elementary PTSA Science Fair. It's always been on a Saturday and I've seen participation decline dramatically over the past couple of years.
Parents and teachers told me that sports and other activities contributed to the decreasing numbers. So for the first time we decided to hold it during a school day.
Information went home to the parents of our elementary school's 500 students (K-6) and I held my breath. Parents are the backbone of a Science Fair's success.
The problem with the Science Fair being during the school day was that school things go on... lunch, recess, art, music, academics. We had to come up with some very tricky scheduling.
With the help of our school's office staff, principal, and the 5th and 6th grade science teachers, we put together a viewing and judging timetable that worked!
Next, we needed judges. For seventeen years we used science students from a nearby university as judges - unfortunately they couldn't be available on a weekday. We contacted University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and they were able to send some of their students and a professor. Hurray! But we needed more. I contacted a friend and her daughter who homeschool - they could help! Our school superintendent has a science background and she could be there! Finally, I contacted the principal at our High School and he (on very short notice!) pulled together students from our National Honor Society and we had enough judges to make everything run smoothly.
Our custodial staffs got tables together from the jr/sr high school and the elementary schools, the elementary physical education teacher kindly gave up the gymnasium, my husband became the master of ceremonies, the tech person put together a sound system, teachers spoke with their students and some really encouraged the students to participate - our 5th and 6th grade classes were required to participate as part of their annual science project grade.
We ask the students to create a tri-fold board that explains their experiment or exhibit using the scientific method if it applied. We lined up the boards in rows so everyone could view them and when it was their turn, the students brought their boards to the tables to be judged. We have the students sit and talk with two judges at different times... no oral presentations!... the final result I'm going for is for the children to enjoy themselves, enjoy science, and not be frightened off!
|Students being judged.|
|Some of the boards.|
|The kids loved this bunny!|
Wow. Pure pandemonium in the morning and then the scheduling kicked in. Volunteers stepped right up and got to work tallying scores and helping students get moved around. The teachers all brought their students through to view the exhibits. Children came down by class to be judged. In the afternoon, the kindergarten through 4th graders came down by grade to be judged.
Can I explain how wonderful it is to see a kindergartener professionally prepare a microscope slide? The kids get exposed to hands-on science and many of the younger grade students who weren't required to create a science fair project said they wanted to do one next year!
Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.
~ Marcus Aurelius