Science fairs open a door to discovery for the student who is interested in how things work, how they came to be, or what could be developed with applied creativity and imagination. I was involved with one science fair in my youth and my grandson recently participated in his first science fair. I had forgotten how much fun and discovery that science fair brought about in my own life.
My grandson placed high in his elementary school science fair with a power point presentation of the Diplodocus, its environment, habitat and the theory of events that led to it’s extinction. Use of the computer and display boards facilitated his science project and the result was a professional looking presentation. For a kid with ADHD, it was a an even greater experience to get a top grade for his project. The science fair boosted his awareness of the level of work that he could achieve with a little creativity and research. His interest in science has grown since then and his grades show it.
In my junior high school years, I constructed a rough model of a tensionometer that measured surface tension of water. It was rudimentary of course, but I won fifth place and an alternate spot. I was invited to go on the school trip to the state science fair with the other winners and I was the only female in my school who went on the trip that year.
While visiting the state science fair, I was blown away at the level of scientific minds of young people and the creations that came from them. The winner, that year, was a car that hovered a few inches off the floor. It was obvious even to my young mind that this science project was eons above the rest of our science projects and we all recognized that it must have cost a great deal of money to construct and test.
In the same school science fair, one of my classmates designed a winning project that explained the theory of jet propulsion. I can picture a hollowed out egg as the vehicle in the project, but I can’t for the life of me, remember what materials he used to propel the egg across its track in the project.
Still another project that year was a model volcano built on a large piece of plywood with the mountain as the center piece. It was painted and decorated to resemble a mountain and surrounding landscape. It was very well done and when the observed flipped a switch, it produced a good amount of steam and lit up. Most people liked the volcano for the special effects and the artistry that went into the entire project. The hand lettered board display gave the supporting information and contained all the information about volcanic activity and the causal effects.
Today, most young people learn proficiency on the computer in elementary school. Using the computer in science projects allows the student to produce great looking displays and the computer is useful in compiling documentation and graphs. When I did my first science project, I hand lettered my display boards and drew the gage for my project. Although I did a good job, the display effort pales in comparison with the professional look that can be produced today using computer software programs. In addition, many scientific experiments can interface with the computer for more precise measurement and accuracy.
It almost makes me wish I was a kid again to think of the kinds of projects that can be invented and modeled in science fairs. All is not lost, however, next year there will be another science fair, and I have two grandsons!