Our son is doing his first Science Fair this year. I'm curious to know what projects your kids have done? Advice? Insight? Thanks!
My advice is to move him to a school that doesn't do science fair projects!
They were the bane of my life when my 3 kids were in elementary and middle school. Even if your child is Nobel material or has a parent who is a famous scientist or engineer, they don't think of a project, they don't do any work and they don't learn anything.
There are books availble with science fair project ideas, you can probably find them in the library, and certainly at the local book stores.
Oh Mom47 -- I loved the science fair when I was a kid!
My advice is to avoid a "canned" project and find something she's interested in -- animals, plants, the environment? If you can't think of anything, spend a few days watching Animal Planet, National Geographic, or the Weather Channel to see if anything piques her interest.
Then find some aspect of that interest that relates to science. If she likes reading, she could do a project on how paper is made, the first printing press, or how certain animals use language. If she's into horses, she could do a project about them or about how the first horses were domesticated. Mermaids? Maybe something about manatees and how ancient mariners mistook these creatures for mermaids. Music? How sound waves travel or how an instrument makes its sound.
Virtually anything can be tied into one of the sciences or another. I remember in high school, one girl did a fabulous science project on how a hair perm worked.
When I was a little kid, I was fascinated by archaeology, so my science fair project was about how an animal's bones told a lot about how it lived -- carnivores, herbivores, fish, birds, etc. Since we lived in a semi-rural area, I had collected several skulls and bones over the years and displayed them along with posters illustrating various features of the bones and what it told about the animals. Not for everyone certainly, but it won the grand prize.
I always liked the Science Fair.
When I was in school I "won" twice doing projects on bouyancy and butterflies & cocoons.
Today the projects are more sophisticated. My son really enjoyed doing one on Radon. He got a company to donate a few Radon kits, and he put them in the basements of friends around town. Results were interesting! He explained where radon comes from, the dangers, and what you can do if you have a high radon level.
At my school I've seen good projects on organ transplants, tornadoes, hurricanes, organic foods/diet foods, etc.
As Sweeby said, find something your son is interested in- dinosaurs, planets, computers, and go with it!
For 3rd grade there are some simple and fun things to do. The ever-popular vinegar and baking soda volcano, for starters. For some audience participation, you can show simple corn starch and water. Mix it up with a lot of starch and you get an example of a colloidal suspension - a non-Newtonion polymer. Push against it slowly and it acts as a liquid and your hand sinks in. Slap it quickly and your hand bounces off because it acts like a solid.
My DD also does a mixture of borax, white glue, and water to make slimy goo. Fun stuff!
Borax, glue and water mixture spread thinly on the back of the hand with pencil shavings rubbed into it before drying sufficiently approximates a third-degree burn to scare the living daylights out of a mother.
We had fun with science fair, too!
Ah, yes, . . . the SCIENCE FAIR PROJECT !!!!!
Actually, they weren't TOO awful !! One that DS did that was fairly easy to do . . . and I'm thinking that he was about in third grade . . .
had to do with plants . . . I think the title was something like What Makes Plants Grow Good?? . .
The idea being to feed plants different things and see which thing made them grow the best. I guess the control group was feeding them nothing . . . just watering them.
There was Miracle Grow, milk, Coke, Coffee, Orange juice . . . Can't quite remember if there was anything else. Six test plants per item . . . that is, six plants per milk, six plants per coffee, etc. He watered/fed them every other day??? (not sure) Measured them every day. Took pictures with a ruler showing the height of the plants . . . also took notes on how the plants looked . .
more green?? thick ??? dead ??????? etc. I think he did this for a month . . . His hypothesis was something like milk would make the plants grow better because milk makes people grow better . . . or something like that. Like I said, it's been a LONG time !!! Anyway, it was very do-able, fairly simple, lots of results, lots of pictures to post on the display board, plus, the plants themselves !
He used snapdragons, basically because the nursery had a bunch of snaps that were in good shape to begin with, and lots that were the same size. Marigolds could be another one. This project was a good one in that it was obviously something he could do HIMSELF !! So many projects are obviously projects done by Mom and Dad . . .
Anyway, it all came out fine, and as I recall, he got an A on it . . . He put the six plants for each one, in a small rectangular planter, by the way . . . so I had LOTS of planters for the patio when he was done !!
I think he came up with the idea after watching me dump my old coffee on plants, and they seemed to really like that caffeine !! So, he figured he'd try stuff like milk !!
Well, best of luck with it all !!!!! Really, they're not bad at all . . and it's really fun going to the science fair to see all the stuff the kids have come up with . . .
Last year, some of the 3rd graders here were assigned to make a simple machine for the science fair, eg, something that used a wheel, a pulley, or a wedge. There were some interesting results (someone made an egg-beater out of tinker toys, i think).
There were several kids who made a complete electrical circuit by wrapping wire around a magnet and connecting it to a light bulb, if i recall.
One year, DS did an experiment w/senses and food (he loves food!). We blindfolded him, and he had to see if he could guess a food just by smell, or if he also needed to taste it, and then we made a chart of the results. It was a fun experiment! Last year, he made invisible ink. This one was trickier. We found several recipes on-line, and he learned a little about acids and bases so he could talk about how certain substances made the invisible ink visible again, while others didn't.
Don't know what we'll do this year... But there are several science fair web sites w/good ideas that make a good starting point for thinking about it. I definitely think it's best if they can get excited about the project, and then they'll end up doing most of it (rather than me!).
The ICK factor is always a real draw for kids.
DivaD1 and her BF swabbed doorknobs in people's homes, public restrooms and restaurants. They swiped the swab on Petri dishes and let them grow. The doorknobs in 'clean' homes were vile. The parents were horrified and the kids went wild.
Doing something with bean seeds is always an easy favorite. You can sprout and grow them under different conditions (we used magnets on the pots to see if magnetic forces affected growth). Or soaking teeth (animal ones purchased from a science source) in soda. Really, if you can google on "science fairs" you will come up with tons of information.
Have fun, this is a wonderful time of learning and working with your precious child.
My son made ice cream. He used a control formula then changed the amount of fat using skim milk, whole milk and cream. He set up taste panels to evaluate flavor and mouthfeel attributes. He did some other measurements too. Anyway, he found that the high fat ice cream was rated highest but the low fat ones were acceptable too. All the kids had fun being taste testers.
We made chocolate chip cookies...each time leaving out an ingredient then had a party and a tasting contest with judges...but never told them what was missing.
Or...melted ice cubes on styrofoam, tile and wood (recent remodelers...had all three!)...had son guess which would melt first, middle last (hypothesis!) and then timed it. Was a great example of that it's ok if your hypothesis is wrong...it's still a good experiement because you learned something.
We also loved the science fair projects. One that might be fun for a third grader is to bury various stuff (plastic, paper, fabric, soft drink cans, fruits, etc) in plots in the yard and come back in a few weeks, did it up, and compare how much they have "composted."
We also did one with a rock tumbler, with before and after photos of how much different materials were worn down.
pecanpie, my kids would LOVE that! Where do you get the Petri dishes, and is there some sort of guideline that tells you how to identify a "harmful" bacteria vs. a "normal" bacteria?
msrevise, we got the Petri dishes from the science teacher. We'd planned to order them online somehow but as I remember they were sold in bulk - we didn't need that many.
The kids didn't distinguish good from bad bacteria. (this was a 4th? grade project) It was the AMOUNT that grew out.
To make sure they were taking a uniform swab from each doorknob, and depositing a uniform amount on each dish, they did the following-
-used sterile swabs for each doorknob/dish
-swabbed around the back of the doorknob (where your fingers would grip) once around, then made an "X" with the swab on the face of the knob, then immediately
-swabbed a "W" onto the agar in the dish and replaced the lid
After they'd had time to grow out, it was evident that some dishes grew very 'furry' "W"s, and some had occasional growths sprouting on parts of the letter. Nice and disgusting! I don't remember if they counted the types of growths or not. There are some things we don't want to remember...