How I Use It
Science fairs are a great way to get students investigating and solving problems. This Discovery site allows students to do one of two things:
1. Design and conduct an investigative experiment (investigation)
2. Design and engineer a practical solution to a problem (invention)
Students will find categories for Life, Earth, and Physical Science with suggested project ideas and possible questions to use for testing a hypothesis. Questions are divided into elementary or middle school levels. The site includes interactive tips on how to create winning displays and oral presentations. It also includes do's and don'ts, judges criteria, and a helpful student final checklist. There are 3 sample investigation project samples provided to give students an idea of how a completed investigation looks. There are also 2 virtual labs offered on the site. The virtual labs come with teacher guides and student worksheets. The site says that these are "designed to give students practice with designing and conducting virtual investigations in preparation for designing and conducting their own hands-on investigations. If you are using these in a classroom, virtual labs take between 2 and 4 class sessions to complete."
The site also offers 3 science fair invention project samples to show all key components of a science fair project. Finally, visitors will find a list of resources and tips for parents and science fair coordinators. The site is a good mix of checklists and interactive materials. Even though the site is organized into steps, a teacher would need to go through the site with the students to get them started and guide them to the resources they might need. Students should be shown how to go to the top horizontal navigation to get back to each step if needed.
The site is useful for helping students create a science fair project. Students who work best independently would benefit most from the site. The list of project ideas and questions would be helpful to most elementary and middle school students. Though the tips and steps are helpful, there are a lot of words on each page and students may not read through them thoroughly or at all. Possibly using a screen reader with the text might be helpful-especially to younger elementary students. Teachers could use the ready-made virtual labs to help students practice before they conduct their own investigations.