Science fair projects are always popular in school. Science fairs are used to present science projects students have conducted to solve scientific problems. These fairs also give them a chance to share their findings about what they learned during their science investigation.
Over a period of time, science fair projects tend to focus on similar investigations. After judging several science fair contests, students need to find a way to separate themselves from the crowd.
Using technology resources as a basis for a science fair project is one approach, which will draw wanted attention during science fairs. So what are technology based resources and how can they help a science fair project?
In this case, technology resources use web resources to support an investigation conducted by a student to explore a scientific concept or idea. It helps students in a science project, because they are conducting research like a scientist, through the integration of technology in a new way – thinking out of the box.
Problem Solving Advantages
Using online information technology support leads to presentations using PowerPoint, spreadsheet(s), and word processing for sharing findings. Here are key attributes technology based research helps organize, conduct, and share findings in an investigation:
- Use of dedicated online real-time databases for research or supporting research.
- Demonstrates higher level thinking skills, not merely summarizing information.
- Demonstrates creativity, judgment, problem-solving, synthesis, and data analysis skills.
- Not merely a research report on an investigation topic.
- Not game playing or just answering questions on a website.
Students using this approach conduct real research and/or support their personal research. This helps them demonstrate their full understanding of the science project and its important to science fair judges.
Project Based Learning
There are two main types of science fair projects that can use online resources, along with integrating science process skills. These two are:
- Project Based Learning – focusing on the development of or creating a new product.
- Problem Based Learning – focusing on solving a specific problem or gaining new information about a problem.
These two types of investigation are the centerpiece of all science fair projects.
Education Technology Integration
There are 6 main categories for organizing this type of technology-based research investigation. The categories include:
- Introduction – overview of the science project (PowerPoint).
- Research – overview of prior research, what is the research question(s), and the hypothesis (PowerPoint).
- Web-Based Resources – overview of these resources and how they fit within the science project (PowerPoint).
- Experiment – detailed explanation of how the investigation was conducted (Word Processing).
- Analysis – use of data tables and graphs to show experimental findings (Spreadsheets).
- Findings – detailed explanation and images of the results and suggestions for further research (PowerPoint, Spreadsheets, and Word Processing).
Guidelines for Success
If conducted appropriately using these guidelines, it demonstrates FOCUS, which means:
- F – finding new ways to do things, thinking out of the box.
- O – orchestrated and well defined research.
- C – challenging and above the norm.
- U – using multimedia to find prior research, conduct the investigation, and explain findings.
- S – scaffolding of research to show understanding all aspects of the science project.
If students want to set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd with science projects, using the guidelines provided above will get them noticed by judges. The key point here is that the use of web-based resources must be an integral part of the science project’s investigation, not merely fluff to grab attention.