What our Science Fair Preparation lesson plan includes
Lesson Objectives and Overview: Science Fair Preparation explores the process of creating a project for the science fair. Students will learn how to choose a topic, conduct research on that topic, and design their project. They will discover the importance of the scientific method in developing their projects. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.
Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. For this lesson, you will need to collect materials for the mini project for the activity.
Options for Lesson
You can check out the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page for additional suggestions for ideas and activities to incorporate into the lesson. A few ideas are related to the activity worksheet. You can let students work alone or in groups for the activity, rather than in pairs. You could also allow students to come up with their own idea for the activity. Another fun idea is to plan a mini science fair project or experiment as a class. You can also invite a scientist to speak with the class about the similarities between the work and research they do professionally and a science fair project. One more option is to plan an evening for parents and students prior to the science fair project assignment and present this lesson to them.
The paragraph on this page gives you a little more information on the lesson overall and describes what you may want to focus your teaching on. It explains that the goal of this lesson is to make preparing for a science project fun and stress free. The blank lines are available for you to write out any thoughts or ideas you have as you prepare.
SCIENCE FAIR PREPARATION LESSON PLAN CONTENT PAGES
The Science Fair Preparation lesson plan contains five pages of content. Often when we hear the word fair, we might think of games, food, fun, or amusement rides. Though a science fair may not include many of these things, it can be fun with the right attitude and approach. In fact, some science fair projects might include games and food, too.
A science fair is usually a competition during which students present the investigation and results of a science project. Their displays often include a report; a display board with information, drawings, or photos; and sometimes models or experiments to help viewers better understand the project. Science fairs take place in elementary school, middle school, and high school.
The main reason we hold science fairs is not to simply earn a grade or win prizes. These fairs provide an opportunity to answer a question, investigate a theory, conduct experiments, and research information. Students will, of course, learn new things from the research they conduct. But in addition, they will become a biologist, oceanographer, archaeologist, physicist, or one of many other categories of scientists.
In short, science fairs are an opportunity to expand our knowledge, examine the natural world, and discover something new. Not every science fair has the same setup or expectations. However, all projects include the basics that we must follow.
Preparation for the Science Fair
The very first step for a science fair project is to determine what to investigate or research. Sometimes this is the most challenging aspect of a science fair, but it does not have to be difficult. There are thousands of ideas. Narrowing it down to something of interest is important. For example, if we enjoy playing different sports, maybe our project could be related to a scientific concept or theory that is part of a sport. If we like to cook, perhaps a project related to chemistry and food would be interesting.
Once we choose the idea and topic, we need to plan the research. A good plan will help us stay on track. It is a good idea to create a timetable to follow between the start date and the science fair date. For example, perhaps we have a total of four weeks to prepare. We could schedule one or more tasks for the project each week.
Sometimes teachers require their students to complete certain tasks by a certain date. Either way, spreading out the work is better than doing all of the work all at one time. We do not want to procrastinate or be rushed. Finally, we can obtain a notebook to use for a science fair journal.
Now that we have chosen a topic, what question do we want to answer? Maybe we want to research and observe fish in an aquarium. Our question could relate to whether or not fish swim in specific patterns during different times of the day. The research related to this question would involve learning about the different species of fish in an aquarium. What does the research say about the swimming patterns of fish? Is it the same or different than fish in lakes, rivers, or other bodies of water?
It is time to take a guess at the question and create a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an idea or an explanation that we can test through research and experimentation. The hypothesis is the basis of our science fair project. Everything we do from this point on should relate to an answer to that simple question. For the fish example, the hypothesis could state that aquarium fish swim in specific patterns during different times of the day.
Now we must design an experiment to test the answer to the question. We will try to prove (or may disprove) the fishing patterns of aquarium fish. We must first gather necessary supplies or equipment and determine the procedures. Using the notebook, we can write out the step-by-step instructions for the experiment. It’s important to think about safety, too. In addition, there might be certain rules that we must follow for the science fair. Once the procedures of the experiment have been determined, it is time to conduct the experiment.
As with every experiment, there will be variables that we need to control. There are three kinds of variables in an experiment: independent, dependent, and controlled. An independent variable is the ONE variable that a scientist will change. Dependent variables are things that a scientist focuses their observations on. For instance, the swimming pattern of fish would be a dependent variable in the fish scenario.
Controlled variables are those that remain constant and will not change. During the fish experiment, controlled variables might include the temperature of the water, the amount of water, or the brightness of the room.
At this point, we need to record the results of the experiment, which include our observations, measurements, and all other important information. We must write down everything that happens and use specific details. We can share our results with a friend or family member, which will give us practice for the day of the science fair. And we want to answer all their questions as best as possible.
Now is the time to analyze the research and the results of our experiment. What is the conclusion? Was the hypothesis correct? Why or why not? We will write down the answers and include everything in our science fair journal. If we have kept accurate records in the journal, another scientist could repeat the experiment, and most likely the results will be the same.
Then we must prepare the display of our project at the science fair. What supplies will we need? Are there photos to display? Have we created graphs or charts that we would like to share? We may need to enlarge some of the graphs or charts if they are too small. Do we need to construct something for the display? For example, in the fish experiment, maybe a small bowl with a couple of swimming fish could be part of the display.
Most science fairs have judges and visitors who ask questions about the projects. It is important to be prepared so we can answer a wide variety of questions. We should even be available to answer questions by standing near our display. As a rule of thumb, we should listen carefully to the questions and look the person in the eye as we answer, pointing to the display as needed.
Science fair projects can be fun. As with most things we enjoy doing, it will include some planning, preparation, and work. There are eight basic steps: choose a topic, ask a question, develop a hypothesis, design an experiment, gather the supplies, conduct the experiment, review the results, and draw a conclusion.
SCIENCE FAIR PREPARATION LESSON PLAN WORKSHEETS
The Science Fair Preparation lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each one will help students solidify their grasp of the material they learned throughout the lesson. You can refer to the classroom procedure guidelines to know when to hand out each worksheet.
CONDUCT AN EXPERIMENT ACTIVITY WORKSHEET
After you introduce information to the students, they will either conduct or watch an experiment that relates to that topic. When they finish, they will work with a partner to answer the questions on the worksheet pages.
STEPS AND VARIABLES PRACTICE WORKSHEET
The practice worksheet is split into three sections. For the first part, students will determine the correct order of the steps for a science fair project from 1 to 10. The second part requires them to identify the independent, dependent, and controlled variables in a few scenarios. At the bottom of the page, students will show how they would organize the eight details on the poster board using the content list.
SCIENCE FAIR PREPARATION HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
Similar to the practice worksheet, the homework assignment has two parts. The first section requires students to match statements to the correct science fair step that relates to it. For the second section, students will decide whether each of seven statements is true (T) or false (F).
Worksheet Answer Keys
At the end of the lesson plan document are answer keys for the practice and homework worksheets. The correct responses are in red to make it easy to compare them to students’ work. There will be some variation on the practice worksheet. However, students’ responses should mirror the answer keys for the most part. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.