This week in fourth grade we have started the science fair and with that comes a lovely project and experiment.
Now I have not done science fair since my senior year of high school (about seven years ago). So I was not very thrilled to hear we are doing it, but was ready to accept the challenge. My students on the other hand were extremely excited to start a science fair project. They love getting to be involved and try new things. So this was right up their alley.
To start our process of science fair we had to first learn the scientific method. This i was not so worried about. Since we use the scientific method daily without even realizing it. My students picked up on this very quick, as we went through the steps they would ask questions like:
-“Isn’t this like making a prediction?”
-“Don’t we do this (research) when we read and write stories?”
They were able to make the connects and started to get even more excited about our project. Since we are doing a class project I did not open this opportunity for students to do on their own. I’m sure if they had the opportunity they would have jumped at it, their parents probably would not be as excited. (remembering back to my science fair days and my parents hate for it) But since this was a class project we would have to decide on a topic together. My worries came back-how can I get all nineteen of my students to agree on one topic? I should have known better than to worry because yet again they surprised me and majority of them wanted to do the same thing.
Now this time for science fair I did not let my students come up with their own topics, my grade level has done research of fourth grade appropriate science projects a couple years ago which made this much easier. I displayed the approved topics/projects on the board for my students.
So after picking our topic/project/ question we now knew what we were in for. The excitement on my students faces grew as the announcement was made that we would be working with fish to see their behaviors.
Our next step was not so exciting- we had to our research. Just like a scientist we had to build out background knowledge of our topic/project. I expected to hear moans and groans when I told my students this, we talked about how we can get research from books, experts, the internet and our own background knowledge and they were ready to go. They spent the next 45 minutes searching the classroom for books on fish- fiction and non fiction, asking me questions (even thought I am no expert), and taking to the internet last. They took notes and were ready to share.
Now we are writing the research ‘paper’ for our project. My students were not so excited about this part but they knew it was part of their project and the best way to show their new knowledge about fish. Our papers are just two paragraphs and we wrote the first paragraph together, but it all the information they researched.