How to Get Kids Excited About Science Fair Projects
Every year, parents are at a loss when their kids come home from school and ask, “What should I do this year for my science fair experiment?” Some schools require student participation in science fairs, while others offer science fairs as voluntary extracurricular activities. In either case, the most valuable thing you can do for your child is to help them discover an interest in a specific scientific topic and then nurture their natural curiosity until it blossoms into an idea for their own science fair project or experiment.
The first thing you should do is think about interests your child may already have. Do they like sports? Gemstones? Dinosaurs? Computers? Magnets? Animals? Stars? Take an accounting of the hobbies they seem most interested in, and let that help guide you in selecting activities to help foster their scientific curiosity.
Next, get active. There are many different types of activities you can embark upon with your child to help them discover a world full of science:
1) Go on a hike. The natural world is full of scientific wonder, particularly in the natural sciences of biology and geology. Whether it’s plants, animals, minerals or ecosystems, a hike can fuel a child’s imagination, particularly if you guide them with thoughtful questions like “Why do you think trees grow over here, but not over here?”, and “Why do you think the sky is so blue today?” and “Can you find any evidence of animals around here?” Bring a camera with you and record your observations, then talk about them when you get home. Compare them with other similar photos and information on the Internet, in videos or in books and research topics your child is excited about together.
2) Get active with experiments and do them with your child. There are a ton of simple experiments, particularly in chemistry and physics, written up and explained on the web which use simple household ingredients, and Be Amazing! also has a large number of science kits you can use to explore different types of science with your child. If your child sees you enjoying yourself by partaking in science, they’re much more likely to get engaged themselves.
3) Go to a science museum. Most science museums have wonderful interactive exhibits that allow kids to experience all different kinds of science in one place, including biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, physics, and more. They usually have specially trained professionals on staff to help explain what your child is experiencing in a way that helps foster your child’s curiosity. After your visit, talk with your child about everything they did at the museum. Ask which parts were their favorite and why. When you get home, further explore those topics through the Internet, videos or books.
4) Explore how things work. If your child loves planes for example, research with them how a plane is able to fly, and then take them to an air show. Children get extremely excited when they see knowledge of something they love put to work and it encourages them to learn more and delve deeper into topics they enjoy.
5) Involve your child with organizations. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and 4H organizations all have programs designed to educate children on topics they enjoy and foster an appreciation for science. Many times, an experience they have within one of these organizations can be the catalyst for a great science fair project idea.
Once your child has a good feeling for the topic that interests them, help them hone their idea into a viable experiment, one that satisfies an answer they have or engages their curiosity. Researching and picking a science fair project or experiment topic with your child can be fun, engaging and great bonding experience, as well as educational.