Coming Up with a Winning Science Fair Project Idea

So your child is participating in the school science fair, and you’re now trying to help come up with science fair project ideas. Irrespective of whether your child was forced to take part in the science fair or even if science is a much-disliked subject, you can turn the situation around with a winning science fair project idea. Here are six tips to share with your child to ensure (s)he enjoys working on the project, learns a lot in the process and maybe even ends up with a prize!

"Science Fair, 09" by Rich Bowen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Science Fair, 09” by Rich Bowen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

1. Begin Early

The science fair is a long way away, and you figure you have more than enough time to come up with a good science fair project idea and see it through to the end. Great! That’s no reason to put off starting on the project. You never know what complications may arise once you actually begin. Even the seemingly simple task of coming up with a good idea may take a lot more time than expected. The last thing you want is to find out that you have only one week left for the project, and an understandably limited choice of ideas to choose from. With more time in hand, you have the liberty of choosing a topic that truly interests you, spending enough time to do research and understand the topic in detail, and collecting the necessary information in a well thought-out and organized manner. And if you’ve got your eyes on the prize, each of these factors will help differentiate your project from the other good ones on display. Believe me, the judges can tell.

2. Choose a topic that really interests you

The right way to go about finding a good science fair project idea is to begin with your interests. Don’t read through a list of ideas and see whether any of them appeal to you. Rather, take some time to think about what kind of topics get you excited. It doesn’t even have to have a direct link to science. What things make you sit up and pay attention? Sports? Cats? Building things with your own hands? Narrow your list down to a few of your favorite topics and spend some time thinking about them. Most probably you will have to do some additional reading on the topic to come up with a question that interests you. The Google Idea Springboard is a great tool to help you out in this area. You’re likely to spend a few weeks if not months working on your project, so having a topic that you love will keep you interested till the end.

3. Come up with a good question that you can work with

A good science fair project idea begins with a good question. How do you define a good question? Firstly, it should not be a question that has already been answered by someone else. If you design a science fair project around the question ‘Which color light do plants grow best in?’, it is unlikely that you or anyone else will learn anything new from it. The experimental procedure and results for such a project can easily be found on the internet. Even if you do decide to do a project based on a science fair project idea you found online, make sure to change the question and ask something new so that you are experimenting and doing research on a slightly different area. Secondly, the question should truly interest you. Don’t adopt a question that someone else finds interesting or exciting. Use your ‘favorite topics’ list, spend time playing with different ideas in your head and only settle for a question that you would genuinely like to know the answer to. This interest will completely change the way you approach the project.

4. Consider the experimental procedure involved

Remember, while trying to settle on your science fair project idea, that you have to come up with a fool proof method for collecting data to answer your question. Consider the kind of time, energy and resources required to set up your experiment, and realistically evaluate whether it can be accomplished with what is available to you. Also check your experiment for any flaws. Is the data that you are collecting quantifiable? Is there any subjectivity involved? Have you considered and taken care of external factors that may affect your results? If you do not know the right answers to these questions, or how to design your experiment accordingly, you will need to spend some time understanding how to set up a scientific experiment.

5. Feel free to change your question based on your background research

It is entirely possible that as you go about collecting the information you need for your project, you realize that your question isn’t a very good one, or that you think of a better and more interesting one. Feel free to change your question according to your findings. This is where point #1 becomes even more important.

6. Make sure you understand all the concepts involved

Don’t worry about finding a topic that sounds highly complicated or scientific. In fact, the more simple your topic, the better you will be able to work with it. Nobody is expecting Ph.D. level research from you. More importantly, you will find the research and data collection far more difficult if you haven’t fully understood the topic yourself. Feel free to ask for help from an adult or the internet in order to learn more about the topic, but when it comes to the project, do all the thinking and analysis yourself. This will help you immensely when it comes to answering the judges’ questions about your project, and your in-depth understanding will show.

As long as you keep these tips in mind, you can be sure to come up with a science fair project idea that will win you over, impress your audience and maybe even tip the judges’ scales in your favor.

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Fairy Tales Learning Games and Activities for Kids

All it takes to entertain a three-year-old is an illustrated book of fairy tales. But fairy tales are more than simple entertainment – they are learning opportunities to impart a variety of skills to their young audience – language, math, creativity, cultural awareness and even cooking! Here are some interesting learning games and activities based on some of the most beloved fairy tales of our times.

Hint – Remember to adapt them to the age and attention span of your child!

Three Bears Dinnerware

In the tale, Goldilocks enters the Three Bears home, eats off their china and sleeps in their beds. You can use this simple story to teach your child sorting and classification skills. Place dishes, glasses and silverware in three different sizes on the table and invite him to sort them by size – small, medium and large. He could also sort them by category or material used. This entertaining learning activity is suitable for four to six year olds.

Act it Out

This fun game puts the “act” in “act”ivity! Just create a variety of cards featuring popular fairy tale characters and invite the kids to perform an action. For instance, one card could say “You’re Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf is chasing you. Run as fast as you can!” Or, “You’re Karen and you’ve put the magical red shoes. At a word from the old soldier, you must dance.” Apart from building your child’s literacy skills and gross motor skills, this fun learning game also allows them to give free rein to their imagination.

Make Your own Fairy Tale

Place small objects and pictures in a bag and invite your child to make his own fairy tale, using the contents of the bag. For instance, he could start off with “Once upon a time, there was a gnome who loved to dance in the rain. One day (pulling out a picture of the sun) it was bright and sunny and the poor gnome couldn’t dance. So he (pulling out a toy car) went for a ride in his car instead.” The story goes on until he has incorporated all the objects into his story and brought it to a conclusion. Your little story teller is sure to enjoy this creative learning game!

Cook up a Tale

Here’s a great learning game to keep your child engaged on a rainy day! Read a fairy tale together and do a cooking project based upon the story. For instance,

  • Make porridge after reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • Make gingerbread cookies after reading The Gingerbread Man
  • Make apple pie or apple strudel after reading Snow White
  • Bake a cake after reading The Little Red Cap

As adults, we relive our childhoods by reading fairy tales to our kids. Now it’s time to make your child an active learner rather than a passive listener. If you have more ideas for turning fairy tales into learning games and activities, I’d love to hear them!

Wearable Technologies

I was thinking a lot last weekend about how slowly technology got integrated into our day to day lives and seeped into the education field. The beginnings were slow and then BAM suddenly, we were using technology for everything – there is always a gadget, a hack and an app for whatever your heart desires. Still, it is fairly a new thing in the classroom. Old school educational institutes are still hesitant to introduce internet based learning. There are pluses and minuses to any argument, one which I will not get into right now. But I did read a very interesting blog about wearable technologies.

What an AMAZING concept that there will be technology that you wear and that can be harnessed to assist not just in your chores and work but in constantly learning. There is the potential to get addicted to it but there is also such great potential. And if it is targeted towards education, you would have hit jackpot!

What are your views on the concept?

Cooking games for kids and their advantages

Cooking is fun and educational too! Introduce the little ones to this essential skill with some wonderful cooking games for kids that will not only get them hooked to the culinary pastime but also improve their hand-eye coordination, measurement skills, and other fine motor skills.

How do cooking games for kids help them learn and develop new skills?

Many online cooking games for kids help them develop their time management skills by throwing tasks at them which need to be completed within a stipulated time frame. Players are penalized if they fail to meet their target and are rewarded if they successfully achieve them. Café World  is one such cooking game for kids where they will have to make a dish in real time, example – if the player is cooking turkey, it will take around 24 hours for the dish to be completed and the rewards reaped. Players will have to go back to their virtual cooking world in the interim to check if the dish is properly made or not. Not only do kids develop their time management skills, they also learn how to multitask and manage tasks in a virtual world.

A few cooking games for kids reward them with game currency which can be redeemed any time to purchase kitchen tools, accessories, furnishings, or to even skip levels. Along their way, kids learn to manage their hard earned virtual money by using it wisely. They have to invest in the necessary purchases only after carefully weighing the pros and cons so that all of the cash is not used up at one go. Such activities improve kids’ money management skills.

Cooking games for kids break traditional gender barriers and encourage both boys as well as girls to play. They give players detailed knowledge of the ingredients used in the kitchen, time taken to cook, kitchen etiquette, how to operate kitchen appliances, and running the kitchen efficiently by the time the game is over.

Some cooking games for kids that you can play at home –

Invite a few of your kid’s friends over for a fun session of cooking games! Tell them you’re about to make cucumber and cheese sandwiches . Spread slices of cucumbers on a tray and keep the cheese, butter, pepper, and salt ready. Don’t allow them to use knives. Ask one of them to pass you four triangles of bread, another one to spread two teaspoons of cheese on a triangle slice, sprinkle half a teaspoon of pepper and close it with another triangle. Ask the last one to put a toothpick through a slice of tomato and into the bread to seal it. Besides improving their hand-eye coordination, kids will also learn and develop essential math skills from this cooking game. And, in the end, they will have creamy cheesy cucumber sandwiches! Play cooking games with kids such as ‘who can make lemonade the fastest’, ‘who can make the yummiest sandwich’, ‘who can make the best hot chocolate’, etc., during their stay-over.
Cooking games for kids can be great stress busters and a source of endless fun too! Come, explore the world and be a part of it!

Give your child an Academic Advantage

I came across this really interesting infographic on the 10 ways in which you can make sure your child excels academically. If the growing number of homeschoolers are anything to go by, more and more parents are unhappy with the education system and are looking to create curriculum that helps in the holistic development of the child. Classrooms, on the other hand, have started to integrate technology and expand learning opportunities. A big plus for the idea of thinking outside the box.

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What do you think of this? Would love to hear your views!