STEM & Science Fairs
March 1, 2023
Science Is Best When It Teaches About Our Creator
While most days we love being homeschooling Mamas, some days are just HARD. Perhaps that’s one reason why #MomFail is all the rage right now. You see it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Some posts are funny, some frustrating, others almost tragic.
But the truth? The mamas I know are committed. They love their families. They’re trying. And the funny thing? Their kids view them as Super-Mama. They don’t see our blunders like we do. Through the “fails,” all the important stuff is getting done. Bellies are full and smiles are big. Kids know – Mama is glue. She holds it together. #NoFail #EpicMama.
So if yesterday’s science experiment didn’t go as planned, shake it off. Your kids have probably already forgotten it (or they thought it was cool that the bubbly mixture spilled all over the table—and blew out a window, LOL). STEM subjects can be frustrating or even intimidating, but they really don’t have to be.
These articles from The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine have some great suggestions:
Another way to make STEM more appealing is to have your kids enter a science fair, either at a local school, a homeschool co-op or the virtual one from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. I know a little girl whose science fair entry showed the different stages of a baby in the womb, with pictures and captions. The girl’s mother was pregnant at the time, so the child was excited to learn her sister-to-be had a heartbeat just twenty-two days after conception and could suck her thumb twelve weeks after conception. The judges were also impressed by her entry. Not only did this little girl come away with a feeling of accomplishment, but she was also able to learn more about the miracle of God’s creation. And that’s ultimately what we want to show our children—that God created us, loves us, and wants a relationship with us through His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. No person or principality can change His love for us.
So, Mama, when you get the urge to post a #MomFail on social media, instead take a moment, and turn your eyes to Him—the One you believe in for salvation. He will never leave you or forsake you, and when you feel weakest, He is STRONG. Let him be your strength. And as you rest in Him, you can take comfort in the fact that His hand is on your head, today, tomorrow, and always.
Science Fairs Can Boost Your Student’s Confidence
Ready to make science practical and exciting? Put aside your science curriculum for a bit, and join a science fair. Yes. It’s allowed. I promise. Science fairs are immeasurably rewarding. If a child does most or all of the work, a science fair project will teach the scientific method, cultivate initiative, and grow confidence in science.
Follow these steps:
Choose a Science Fair
Search for science fairs in your area or start your own science fair. Alternately, online science fairs are open to all homeschoolers. You can check out Apologia’s online one at www.apologia.com/sciencefair/
Start by asking questions about common beliefs or unknown facts. Search online for ideas and use those to generate your own unique project.
Make a Hypothesis
What do you think will happen in your experiment? That is your hypothesis. Design an experiment with controls and variables to test your hypothesis. It doesn’t matter if your hypothesis was correct. Judges desire a well-done experiment, not a correct hypothesis.
Keep a Notebook
Keep records of everything you do, how and when you did it, and what you used.
Create a Presentation
On a trifold board, include photos and explanations of your findings. Practice explaining your project to others.
About the author
Jeannie Fulbright is the creator of the award-winning Apologia Young Explorer science series, the Charlotte Mason Homeschool Planner, Rumble Tumbles Through Time fiction series, as well as many essential tools for your homeschool journey. Find her at: www.JeannieFulbright.com.
Why Participate in a Science Fair?
I know, I know . . . science fairs mean a lot of work, deadlines, and yes, maybe even some tears (I’m talking about the parents, here). But folks, science fairs are great opportunities. They help students better comprehend STEM subjects and see their real-life applications. Additionally, science fair projects help students build creativity. They can immerse themselves in an experiment, by exploring the answer to a question they have, and eventually become something of an expert on the subject.
The best science fair projects answer questions dealing with a student’s everyday life. Go beyond the basic “How Does a Volcano Work?” or “Do Plants Need Sunlight?” Not only will your children work on a unique project, but they will also be more invested in learning about their research. As students brainstorm what they want to explore, have them think about questions that pop up as they go about their day. When their brother drops an apple slice, quickly retrieves it, and then says, “five second rule!” before popping it into his mouth, they might wonder if that five second rule is true. Exactly how long does an apple slice have to be on the floor before it picks up bacteria? They can then purchase inexpensive packs of filled petri dishes (easily found online) and test that question.
Here are some quick pointers:
- When setting up an experiment, make every component the same except the one you want to test (i.e., same sized apple slices, same procedure, but different durations on the floor).
- Reword your question to make a prediction you want to test; this is your hypothesis (Apples don’t pick up much bacteria until they have been on the floor for over five seconds).
- Record your data in a table and graph it if possible.
- Make sure you can explain your results to someone else.
There are lots of potential experiments available to students, but the best ones come from their own suggestions. A child might be way more excited to test “Do video games really rot my brain?” versus “Do plants need fertilizer?” Both involve critical thinking and creativity, and yet when the student leads the exploration, the fun begins (and greater learning, too)!
About the author
Sherri Seligson, M.Ed. is a twenty-one-year homeschool mom/marine biologist. Authoring Apologia’s science courses, instructional videos, and more, Sherri loves encouraging moms and teaching families the wonders of God’s creation. www.facebook.com/SherriSeligsonAuthor www.sherriseligson.com
Pillar of Faith
Jodi Riddle – Trial and Error
An experiment, according to the 1828 dictionary, is a trial; an act or operation designed to discover some unknown truth, principle, or effect, or to establish it when discovered.
Many times, our entire homeschooling journey could be described in this way. When we start out, we realize that this is like a long-term experiment. It’s trial and error. Sometimes things work well, and sometimes things do not, but we always discover something along the way. We discover unknown things; we develop new principles; and we establish much more than an education.
Trials are not necessarily a bad thing. They help us grow. They test us. They teach us. But even more than that, they give us an end result that allows us to reveal the reason for the experiment in the first place.
Hopefully, your homeschool journey will be one that brings honor and glory to the One who gave you life.
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. -1 Peter 1:7