Is it every parent’s nightmare to have a science fair project assigned? I think often it is but it truly doesn’t have to be. With careful planning, following directions and helpful resources, creating a science fair project can (and should) be lots of fun and a great learning experience for kids. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not a competition. Oh, well, I guess it is a competition. Let me put it this way: it is a STUDENT competition. Parents should do their best to let their kids take ownership of the project as much as possible. That means coming up with a topic that is interesting to the student yet sufficiently challenging. Parents definitely need to be involved, but mostly to make sure their child is following their plan, the directions, and conducting their experiments properly. A fantastic resource is Science Fair Central. I LOVE the 3 step process that walks you through the entire process. Obviously, there may be items on your school’s criteria that is not on the site, but certainly you can make the adjustments.
What’s your best advice for parents who are helping their kids with a science fair project?
When I was in elementary school, science fairs were such a big deal! Many of the students within the various grades worked together to create a project. For some students, their parents were the ones actually doing the assignment, while others struggled just to get a project started and completed. Before students would get started on a project, I would always overhear groups wating until the last minute to be sure and create the BEST project with the most interesting experiement and/or results. I even had classmates have their topic chosen for them by their parents.
My advice for parents wanting to help with the science fair project is to pay attention to the key word–help. Parents can help with ideas and creation. Parents can help with the experiment and getting results. Parents can also help with constructing the presentation. From my experience, my advice would be not to completely do the project for their children and allow them to create and even make mistakes. Students will only learn when they can do for themselves, and not have their work done for them!