Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Science Fair 2011

Our homeschool group decided a few months ago to host a show and tell style science fair. Rather than go all out with display boards, we figured the kids could just do their experiment, and then do a report on them and an oral presentation.

We all got off to a pretty good start; there was a lot of interest in the idea, especially since we were going to do a non-competitive fair. I think that most of our group’s families plan to participate in the Texas Regional Science Fair, which is a homeschool science fair in Tomball, TX, in coming years, but since none of our kids have ever participated, we thought that a local show-and-tell fair would be a great introduction and practice run for them.

When my kids were in school, they went to a science academy charter school. There was heavy emphasis on math, science and technology, and the Science Fair was so big a deal that there was a special committee and an orientation specifically for parents who haven’t participated in SF before. The science fair was probably THE biggest event at the school, and to be fair, the kids had some truly awesome projects. I was privileged to be on the judges panel one year, and the kids had some truly impressive offerings. I was really looking forward to my kids participating there, and benefitting from the enthusiasm and encouragement from those teachers. Now that we’re homeschooling, they’ll miss out on some of that, but I think/hope that between our enthusiasm and encouragement, and participation in the TRSF, they’ll do fine.

Anyway… the boys waffled a bit on what project they wanted to do. We started looking at sites like Easy Science Fair Projects, Crystal Clear, All Science Fair Projects, PBSKids and About.com for ideas and topics. PeaGreen heard ‘fossils’ and immediately latched on to that one; even after a couple of days of looking, he was dedicated to that topic. LBB initially wanted to do triboluminescence – the light that tape or band-aids make when you rip the adhesive open in the dark or the ‘spark’ when you bite into a LifeSavers Wint-o-green candy. That lasted for a couple of days and then he lost interest; it’s fly season in southeast Texas and no matter how clean the kitchen is, it seems that for a couple of weeks in the beginning of the summer we always have a herd of flies in the kitchen window. So LBB decided to make bug traps to see if he could get them out of the window. From there, that evolved into an actual experiment – which bait would be better to catch fruit flies: raw meat or fruit? PeaGreen wanted to try to make a fossil, so we watched a few videos on fossils and casting them, and he took off with an idea – he was going to make an impression fossil and cast it plaster of paris.

I have to say that I am SUPER impressed with my boys. Both of their projects required trial and error and re-working the idea, and patience. These are qualities that I’d ‘hoped’ my kids possessed, but I had yet to see them in action. I can happily report that they do indeed possess the necessary perseverance and fortitude and patience necessary to complete a project. PeaGreen ended up doing three different versions of his impression fossil, and two different castings, and LBB made two traps and came back over several days to chart his data.

I was doubly impressed because even though I said to begin with that these were their projects to do on their own, inevitably, mom ends up helping here and there. But, other than a few words of encouragement here and there, these projects were done completely by the kids.I helped with the write-ups, mostly transcribing and fine-tuning their ideas and thoughts on paper, but their videos are all their own. We ended up being the only once who could make it to the presentation on the day of the Science Fair, so I filmed the boys doing their presentations and thought I’d share them here.

LBB’s video

PeaGreen’s video

You can read their reports if you like, LBB’s “The Flies Have It’ & PeaGreen’s ‘Fossilized’.

Even though we don’t put much emphasis on grade level, we decided that the end of May and the Science fair would complete this grade for them (done with 2nd for PG and 3rd for LBB), so we awarded them both with their grade diploma and Science Fair certificate. Good job, boys!!

Warmly,

~h

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