What do you remember about your elementary school science fair project? Most adults respond to this question with one of three responses: utter loathing, a blank stare trying to recall ever completing a project, or much less frequently, absolute bliss. Explanations to both the positive and negative responses then unfold with stories of the developmental appropriateness of the project, parent involvement, cost, and/or time.
It’s time to flip the traditional science fair project, align it with twenty-first century expectations and set our youngest scientists up for success! Let’s inspire our students by inviting professionals from the community to run interactive tables related to their fields. Students and their families will be given the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with experts who are passionate about their careers in science.
Interested in animals? Visit a station run by veterinarians to participate in a simulated surgery on a stuffed animal, whose abdomen is filled with cooked spaghetti and objects that require extraction. Have a rock collection? Visit the station run by geological engineers to learn more about the rock cycle, while chewing gum, because the powder on the gum comes from the quarry! Like to cook? Why not visit the station run by a local spice company and learn about consumer science from taste experts. Do you love Legos, Kinex, and Building? Step over to the engineering professors and graduate students from the nearby university who will help you navigate software for a 3-D printer.
Interactive, community events like this enable every child to discover and develop their inner scientist. Those students whose strengths lie in the area of science are able to deepen and extend their understandings by communicating with enthusiastic experts. Let’s take the stress out of science and celebrate it instead!