Welcome to 2018 and I hope that you all had a wonderful and restful holiday!
Yesterday, I gave the 6th grade students information about this year’s science fair and an information pack to take home to you. The science fair this year will be held on Wednesday February 21st. This leaves us just over 6 weeks to complete. Over the years we have recommended to parents that they start their project promptly in order to alleviate the stress on them and their children that can be very possible if not enough time is left to do it.
As this is only for 6th graders, then you should be looking for something that has a certain uniqueness to it. ( I realize that a unique project is hard to come by, but looking at a familiar topic in a different way, backed up by lots of data is a good way to go).
There are a multitude of sites online to choose from as well as books in your local library that can give you lots of ideas. The main online site that we recommend is http://www.sciencebuddies.org. It has many many ideas along with a topic selection wizard that can guide you in the direction that you want to take. It also allows you to buy science kits. The information I supplied came from this website.
Another person you may have heard of is Steve Spangler. He is a media personality who has a way of connecting with people to encourage them and inspire them to get interested in and find out more about science. His site is more commercial than science buddies for example, but it does have a lot of interesting ideas, articles and information: http://www.stevespanglerscience.com.
Typing into your search engine “science fair projects” will get you a multitude of hits. For example: http://www.education.com/science-fair/; http://www.all-science-fair-projects.com; or http://www.ipl.org/div/projectguide/. There is a vast amount of information out there and of course you can ask me for help and advice.
When you choose something to do, the key is to make sure you can measure it. For example, one of my students last year wanted to do a project on how cats react to music. Very interesting, but there are a lot of variables (things that can change). In order to get accurate and informative results we need to minimize our variables and focus on a few concrete things that we can measure. So, for the cat’s reaction to music, you would need to collect a lot of data that will be able to override variables such as the mood of the cat (sometimes difficult to ascertain); other stimuli in the room that may affect the cat; ensure you know what signifies a cat’s like or dislike of something; the volume of music; presence of other people or cats; time of day. As you can see, in order to get valuable data we need to be precise about what we want to measure and eliminate things that can distort your data.
On the reverse, a more “scientific-type” experiment might be to test different fuels on a rocket, using results based on the time the rocket stays in the air. In order to be accurate here you would need to use the same rocket with the same environmental conditions and same amount of fuel and the ability to measure the time it remains in the air. Variables that are much easier to control compared to measuring the mood of a cat. This is not to say that you should not do a project like measuring the effect of music on a cat, but it is trickier to get accurate results and needs more planning and research (but if well done and with strong results then more likely to get a good score).
I have used the pronoun you when talking about doing a science fair project. Of course, your child will be the one that is doing the project, but they will sometimes need your help. We know that the science fair project is another thing for already busy families to do, so try not to bite off more than you can chew if you feel that it is going to be stressful for you. Try to find something that you can all find interesting and enjoyable. As I said, please contact me if you need some help or ideas.
The 4th and 5th graders have been given a “mobile” book report to complete by the week beginning Monday January 29th, with the last presentation to be given on Friday February 2nd. Unfortunately, I do not have a digital copy that I can post. The students were given the hard copy, which contains instructions and a rubric. Due to the instructions, it is easiest to produce a report that is fiction. However, non-fiction that fulfills the criteria would be acceptable. This book report is not for 6th graders, as they have the science fair. 4th graders will be doing a History Fair, I think in April, and 5th graders will be doing an Invention Convention in March. Again, please touch base if you need any help.
Looking ahead, next week there is no school on Friday January 12th, due to professional development for teachers and Monday January 15th is Martin Luther King Jr Day – no school again. Yesterday, we reviewed the life of Martin Luther King, listened to part of his “I have a dream” speech and did some craft activities.
After school, on Tuesday January 30th, we are holding the “chili cook off.” This is an event held by upper el classes in the gym where each class and families from that class produce chilis that families and students can come in and sample. It is a popular event and I will be providing you with more information and “wejoinin” sign up possibilities in the near future.
On Monday February 5th, we are going on our next field trip to “The Leonardo” museum with Ms Amy’s class. More information about that, along with permission slips, will again be coming out in the near future.
I hope you all get to have a wonderful and restive weekend!
With thanks – John