Calling all Scientists and Inventors! Join the Franklin Community in a Celebration of Science! All Franklin students are encouraged to participate.
Dear Franklin Community,
It is time again for our annual Franklin Science Fair. This is an incredible opportunity to learn something new with your child and spark their interest in science. You do not have to work for NASA or be a rocket scientist to instill a wonderful sense of scientific curiosity in your child. Inside this packet are some sample experiments that are easy to follow. Keep it simple and let’s make science fun!
What To Do
Step 1 – Come up with a project idea – Projects fall into three broad categories: a research topic, an experiment, or an invention
Step 2 – Research the topic, run the experiment, build the invention, draw your conclusions
Step 3 – Create a poster board showcasing your project
Step 4 – Drop off your board outside the Cafetorium on Wednesday, February 20, 2012, between 8:00 and 9:00 am
Step 5 – Come to the science fair on Thursday, February 21, 6:30 pm, to see all of the posters and announcement of raffle winners![table “” not found /]
[wptabcontent]Every student who wishes to participate in the Science Fair must do three (3) things:
- Complete a Science Fair project. Come up with an idea for a project and see it through
- Create a Science Fair Board. Make sure to put your name on it!
- Bring the board to school on February 20 between 8-9 am and drop it off in the Cafetorium
Students may work in teams. However, all team members must have their names clearly written on the board. The most common mistake is to bring the board to the classroom and expect the Science Fairy to bring the board to the Cafetorium
Remember, the Science Fair Raffle will be held at the Science Fair Open House on February 21 at 7 pm and you must be present to win!!
NO LIQUIDS PLEASE!! Do not bring any models or any objects to the Science Fair – photographs of the project can be mounted on the Boards.
[wptabcontent]There are 3 Science Fair Categories to choose from:
- Research topic/Exhibit/Demonstration
This category is generally considered the traditional science project fair entry. Students conduct experiments to evaluate an idea or problem (the hypothesis). The level of scientific experimentation and reporting is solely dependent on the age and ability of the student. This is where the parent is needed to “guide” the student through the process. If the concept is difficult to explain or understand, then take a step back and simplify. Keep it Simple! When conducting experiments, the Scientific Method is employed. Such concepts as controls, hypotheses, and results are introduced. Review these concepts and give examples to assist the young scientist. Those science fair projects that use measurements are strongly encouraged. Measurements of time, water, growth, etc. are critical to learning the scientific method.
Many books and websites have simple science experiments for everyone. Simple but great experiments include, measuring and comparing your pulse rate at different activity levels, measuring water adsorption in the roots of celery plants using colored water, measuring wind speeds and directions with flags, etc. Don’t spend a lot of money or buy complex science kits. The process is equally, if not more, important than the end result. Use common sense and keep experiments and students safe. Always use caution with chemicals and moving parts. An excellent Science Fair source is the “Guide to the Best Science Fair Project” by Janice Van Cleave (Scholastic 1997). Please tailor this information to your child. Not all information provided is required or encouraged. Pick and choose to keep the science project challenging, engaging, and fun.
- Research Topic/Exhibit/Demonstration
This category is intended for students who want to research a topic and present their knowledge and understanding of a scientific topic. A student can provide a graphic display, written report, or build a model. You need to turn your research project into a question like, “What are Fossils”, “How Does the Human Heart Work”, “What is Radical Symmetry”, “What is a Triangle”, “How Do Humans Touch”, etc. Students can take a school research project that was completed in their classroom one step further and employ the Scientific Method. Examples of demonstration projects include human heart models, “how does a cell phone work?”, photosynthesis, solar energy, recycling, “how does an airplane fly?”, and much more. Use school projects as much as possible!
The focus of this type of science fair project is “Research”. The student asks a question and then answers that question. Research is not (and shouldn’t be) limited to the encyclopedia. Have the student write a letter to Boeing Aircraft to get information on airplane design, visit a museum to look at human heart models, contact a hospital to see if visitors can talk to a radiologist. The sky is the limit. Be creative on different avenues to get scientific information. NASA, JPL, UCLA, USC and many other organizations are located in Los Angeles County and those scientists may be delighted to explain satellites, fuel cells, climate change and much more to your child. The student can demonstrate his or her knowledge through various methods. Typical means include graphic presentation, building a model, and writing a report. The question, the method of research, and the demonstration of the knowledge are all key elements of this project category. Store bought kits are discouraged. Keep it simple!
This category is intended for students who want to make an invention or innovation. An invention is a “new” or “original” item, in contrast to an innovation that enhances or improves an existing item. Keep in mind that there are limitations to what a student can build. In general, useful items are encouraged. Those items that solve common problems around the house are good. Discussions with your child will prove extremely valuable to flush out those ideas that are not feasible.
The student should ask the question “What can I design or improve that will benefit my family or solve a problem?” Research will give some additional insight. The invention can be designed and then either build a model or simply provide a drawing or graphical display. Some useful inventions that have a place in the world at large include: how can I design a machine that can separate plastic and metal recyclables, how can I track how I spend my allowance, how can I design a collection device for collecting rainwater off my driveway and prevent it from going straight to the ocean, and so much more. Numerous drafts of any invention will be needed. Keep a journal (or notes) to track how and why changes were made to the original idea. The design phase is extremely important. Put all of this on the display board. Why you changed the machine 5 times is generally more informative than just showing the final invention.
[wptabcontent]The Scientific Method
The scientific method is the primary tool that scientists use to find answers to questions. The scientific method involves the following steps:
- Research – Select and understand the topic
- Problem – Identify scientific questions to be solved
- Hypothesis – Come up with an idea about the solution to the problem
- Project Experimentation – Test your hypothesis with appropriate experiments
- Project Conclusion – Summary of the experimental results and statement of how the results relate to your hypothesis
Please use the Scientific Method where you can. Younger students may not understand it and you can simplify it where needed. The Exhibit/Demonstration Category uses the Scientific Method when the topic is posed as a question. The Invention Category would employ the Scientific Method for “testing” the invention. Again, the parent is the best judge of where and when to apply it. For students in Grades 3, 4 and 5 who chose to do an experiment, we highly recommend attempting to follow the Scientific Method to the best of the students’ ability (We already know Mom and Dad can do it!)
Science Fair Project Board
The Science Fair Board represents all the work that was done on the project. The student’s name, grade, project category, and project title should be clearly displayed on the FRONT of the board. If this information is not on the board, you may not receive credit for participation. Drop off the Board on the morning of February 22. Only students who bring their board to the fair will be eligible to get a Science Fair Raffle Ticket.
All participants must submit a Science Fair Board. This is a 3-part board that is sold at all office supply stores and art stores. The Board MUST be able to stand on its own. No models, objects, etc. are allowed to be dropped off with the Board. No exceptions. Take photos of the project and the students actively experimenting and attach them to the board. No glass, scalpels, batteries, wires attached to batteries, or hazardous materials, etc. are allowed for safety reasons, and yes, every year someone tries to bring them. If your child builds a battery – great!! Take a picture of it and put it on the board. Do not have the child bring the battery to school. Any items brought to the Fair will be discarded.
What should a Science Fair Board look like? The sky’s the limit. Color, write, draw, do whatever is in your heart. The more color the better. A younger child may love to draw all over the board and we say “DO IT”. So the answer is “There is no one right way to create a science fair board”. Please do not repeat this mantra when entering the INTEL National Science Contest – they are not keen on butterflies and rainbows!! We are!!
[wptabcontent]Imitation is the ultimate form of flattery and yes we want you to copy us. Please do not think you need to design a new computer program for NASA or discover a new element for the Periodic Table. The intent is to enjoy the Science Project with your child.
Category Experiment – BEGINNER[table “” not found /]
I selected 10 parking meters throughout the City of Santa Monica. I inserted 2 quarters into each of the meters when they were empty (this is a control measure). I measured the time on my digital watch and noted the start and end times on my notebook. I repeated this experiment for each of the 10 parking meters.
I made a bar chart of actual time for each of the ten parking meters. I found out that 5 meters were accurate. 3 meters gave me several extra minutes and 2 meters robbed me of 1 minute. In conclusion, only 50 % of the parking meters in Santa Monica are accurate. However, if I measure the accuracy to be in terms of receiving a parking ticket, then they are accurate 80% of the time.
Note – This can quickly become an advanced Science Fair Project if the student measures more parking meters, prepares a pie chart, and performs more substantial math calculations. Research could also include internet sites that explain the mechanisms for parking meters and perhaps a letter to the manufacturer. In fact, a more complex version of this was a winning project in the Bay Area Science Fair several years ago. Among other things, the student contacted the city parking authority, which donated a large number of quarters to her project in return for receiving a copy of her results and conclusions.
Category Experiment — ADVANCED[table “” not found /]
Punch 2 holes of similar diameter in one side of the cup. Make one hole 3 inches from the bottom of the cup and the other hole one inch from the bottom and slightly to the left or right of the other hole. Place a strip of masking tape over the hole on the outside of the cup. Fill the pitcher and cup with tap water. Set the cup on the edge of a sink. Remove the tape from the cup and ask your helper to keep the cup filled by pouring water form the pitcher into the cup for a steady stream of water. Observe the distance each stream of water squirts.
Streams of water squirt out the holes in the cup. The bottom stream squirts our farther. Pressure is a force applied over an area. Since the water has weight, it exerts pressure. One factor that affects the amount of pressure exerted by water is its depth. The pressure of water increases with depth because of the weight of the water pushing down from above. The greater the pressure, the farther the stream of water squirts, so the stream of water coming form the bottom hole squirts farther.
Take it a step farther and get a tall cup and put numerous holes in it. Use a ruler to measure the distance and make a table illustrating height of hole corresponds with distance water is squirted. Always include the tables on the Science Fair Board. Research the actual pressures felt by Scuba Divers in the ocean and include these real life measurements on your board. Talk about the medical effects if a Diver surfaces too soon – it is called the “Bends”.
[wptabcontent]There are many great resources in the internet and in your library to help you with your Science Fair project. A few are listed here:
- Janice Van Cleave, Guide to the Best Science Fair Project (Scholastic 1997). Much of the material in this packet is drawn from this book
- www.howstuffworks.com/fun-science-projects-for-kids.htm – www.sciencebuddies.org: You can find hundreds of ideas for Science Fair projects at these sites and others like them
- Julianne Blair Bochinski, The Complete Handbook of Science Fair Projects (Wiley, 2003)
- Joe Rhatigan, Prize-Winning Science Fair Projects for Curious Kids (Lark, 2006). There are many books out there like these.