I Hate Science Fairs
Posted September 21, 2009on:
Parents hate them. Most aren’t any more science literate than their kids. The pressure on the parents to create a decent project is awful. Coming up with a good science experiment project is really hard to do. There are dozens of books on the topic and everybody is clawing at them, trying to find something they can handle.
Kids hate them. They see it as a grade, nothing more. They don’t understand the need for the formality in the presentation. All they know is they don’t win. Now they hate science.
Teachers hate them. Be honest, they are brutal to grade, the work is not worth the effort. Please, no more volcanoes.
OK, now that I got that off my chest, let’s talk about this.
I love doing experiments. I love inspiring kids to think. I make my students experiment constantly. I want them to play in science, find the joy and excitement. I want them to ask questions and be curious. I make them launch rockets and throw balls. If they make a paper airplane in my class, they better make five or ten and tell me what design works best and why. Is science really distilling everything they know about a topic and making it fit on a bent poster board?
I will be doing a science fair in my classroom in about a week. Only I don’t call it that. I call it my “Mythbusters Project.” To be honest, I don’t care if it’s a stupid idea they are testing. I want them to be goofy and have fun. I help them to make sure they are doing good science. I challenge their findings. I make them work together and research. I know, it’s not the county science fair. So what?
You can’t sell someone something they don’t want or need. Really, it’s true. OK, maybe once, but you lost them as a customer forever if you do that. Kids want to be creative, they want to think, they want to learn. They are unbelievably curious. If you don’t think so, leave a pile of mechanical puzzles on the table and don’t draw attention to it. Every one of them will be in the kids’ hands in two minutes. Try it.
Here’s the question you need to ask yourself: What can I do to make this kid love science?