27 February 2006

New and Improved Science Fairs

Ah, the dreaded science fair project. Mind you, students, parents, and teachers all fear them for different reasons, but they are still a staple of the school landscape.

A recent article in the Indiana Star Press claims that science fair projects are becoming more sophisticated and relevant: out with the baking soda volcanos and in with the investigations into broccoli. Maybe it is a matter of more focused science instruction. Or perhaps it is just a matter of helping students ask good questions.

1 comment:

Superdestroyer said...

As a judge in a county wide science fair in a metropolitan area, I would argue that science projects are really not that good for several reasons:

1. The internet has killed research. The high school students to not seem sophisticated enough to know the difference between primer sites, activist sites, and real science sites. I always give extra points to a kid who actually went to a library and looked up peer reviewed journal articles.

2. Hypothesis states are usually horrible. Most of them claim to test things that cannot be tested and are usually worded in a very bias way. The H:null should be no effect.

3. Most kids cannot control for amount but just test for any effects of a treatment. The idea of a dose related response seems to be a foreign concept that is not taught nor understood.

4. To too many kids, anything above a ruler seems to be a black box. They have little idea how an measuring device or analytical equipment they used actually works.

5. Too many kids think Powerpoint can make up for a lack of results or even thought.