Science Fair Projects: Yay?

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Mentos in soda bottles. Plants watered with vinegar. Hamsters forced to run through mazes. Creative science fair projects, true, but ones that have been done over and over and over. Why does the science fair project still exist?

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In the age of MythBusters and YouTube, it’s hard to think up a truly original experiment. And why do we need to? Hours of scientific discovery can be found on screen. My kids love watching other kids mix up a batch of flubber or make water walk. And the thought of designing and implementing an original experiment by specific deadlines to be later displayed among a gymnasium filled with other attempts at greatness is dismaying for families this time of year. Where’s the educational value?

I hated science fair projects as a kid and I hate them as a parent. But… I don’t want them to go away. While it’s painful to watch your child repeatedly mess up the scientific process and even more painful to watch them try and draw straight lines while outlining their photos of deflated soccer balls, and even more painful to see projects at the fair that have an obvious parental boost, I still think the science fair is worth pursuing. Here’s why.

 

 

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So yay for science fair projects!