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A post for the parents

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This is a post for the parents, so kids: look away!

Wait… actually, why not check out this YouTube video from Mark Rober instead, where he describes “10 ideas and some power tips to make you the king of your science fair!”

Parents, keep scrolling.

Do you dread science fairs?

Say it ain’t so! I don’t have kids myself, but I think I might understand, thanks in part to this article from the HuffPost I came across.

Simply put: Not all kids have parents with equal amounts of free time to spend helping their child with a science fair project. Even if a parent does, getting elbow-deep in baking soda and vinegar volcanoes or dragging a kid through the marathon lead-up to a science fair might not be their idea of a good time.

I think we can agree that a science fair brings the potential for an incredible wealth of learning and opportunity for kids. It’s far from just an event for practicing scientific concepts: A successful science fair project can encourage introspection among young participants. Kids will be prompted to identify what it is they find interesting, consider the ways they could learn about those interests at a greater depth, and consider whether the time and effort required is worth it for them.

Through planning and executing a project, kids can develop their sense of agency. The achievement of their project serves as a concrete example that, with deliberate thought and effort, they can confront and overcome challenging tasks. This experience reinforces the importance of long-term planning, no matter the extent to which actual planning took place, and reinforces the practical application of skills taught in school that may have previously seemed abstract or theoretical.

Finally, a science fair showcases the academic efforts of both peers and adults in a positive light. It breaks the stereotype that academic pursuits are always serious and “stuffy,” or something pursued only by “other people.” Instead, it demonstrates that learning can be enjoyable and found everywhere.

Mentors are available

The St. Paul and District STEAM Society (SPDSS), the organization responsible for organizing the regional science fair, currently has three adult mentors available to assist, including myself. We’re here to help with the science fair projects of anyone who is interested, whether that be a simple “thumbs up” on a possible science fair topic or regular meetings to help make a plan and see it through. Our mentors are passionate about science, know all the details of this science fair, and are dedicated to bringing the subjects of STEAM to kids.

In addition, there are plans to conduct workshops throughout the time between now and the science fair on April 13th, covering details like how to pick a good topic, how to break apart a daunting task into easier ones, creating an effective presentation, and similar.

All of this is to say...

We would like all kids to be able to participate and be successful in the Lakeland Regional Science Fair. To do this we’re trying to work with schools, create materials that are helpful for kids, and provide access to mentors and other resources as needed. But, as the HuffPost article from above suggests, we might want to think about the parents too.

I think through access to mentors and upcoming classes on participating in the science fair, we can take some of the burden off parents. But, if you know of other things that could be done to help students be successful in our science fair, please reach out.

 

Thank you, and I hope you keep reading. Tomorrow, its back to regular blog-post-programming!

Chris

Book a virtual meeting with a mentor by visiting our mentors page.