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Introduction to the Science Fair- Info for Parents: When and Where: The annual HFH Science Fair

will be held after May First Friday Mass and May Crowning (around 2:30pm) at St. Marys Pine Bluff. Who: Catholic homeschooled students in grades Kindergarten through High School are invited to participate. There is no entry fee for HFH members, non-HFH members must pay a facility fee of $5 per child. Participating families are asked to bring a snack to share the night of the Fair. Why: Participating students will have an opportunity to put the scientific method into practical use. They will follow these steps: 1. Identify the problem 2. Refer to authoritative sources 3. Ask an appropriate question 4. Develop a hypothesis 5. Conduct experiments 6. Keep detailed records of methods and results. 7. Report the experiments 8. Analyze the results 9. Develop a conclusion How: To make this process easier on parents I have come up with a series of twelve assignments and deadlines to guide students in creating their projects. Students should keep a project log, a marble composition book is recommended for this purpose. Starting January 21th, I will post detailed instructions for each assignment to a blog cleverly titled Science Fair at . If you would like me to send you a copy of all the assignments in a PDF file or a printed copy contact me, or download a copy from the link at the Science Fair blog. What: In addition to a marble composition book, students will need a tri-fold cardboard display board and any materials needed to carry out and report on their project. It is possible and encouraged for students to choose projects that use inexpensive materials, but obviously the final cost will vary depending on the topic. A Few More Details: Students who are not taking my Science class are welcome to participate. A note about younger students: Kindergarten and First graders are encouraged to participate in the Science Fair. In the past we have had some very good informational projects on topics such as

dinosaurs and worms submitted by Kindergartners. Younger students (including 2nd and 3rd graders) are not expecting to follow all the assignments strictly and produce a written report, rather the parent should use the assignments as a guideline and tailor the project to the childs level. A display about an area of interest is a great introduction to Science Fair projects for the younger crowd. Students in 4th grade and up (and perhaps some more ambitious 2nd and 3rd graders) should be able to complete a project as specified in the assignments. Please contact me with any questions! Assignments for Students: Assignment # 1 So youve decided to participate in the Science Fair. You will be doing more than learning science, you will be doing science by following the scientific method just like a real scientist! Here are the steps you will follow as you complete the twelve assignments: 1. Identify a problem 2. Refer to authoritative sources 3. Ask an appropriate question 4. Develop a hypothesis 5. Conduct experiments 6. Keep detailed records of methods and results. 7. Report the experiments 8. Analyze the results 9. Develop a conclusion So lets get started, already! Purchase marble composition book to use as a log book. Write your first and last name and Science Fair Log on the cover. Print a copy of Science fair timeline Word document and tape or paste inside the front cover. Now watch for assignment # 2. Assignment #2 Develop potential topic ideas or research questions.

Choose a topic that interests you. You could choose a project based on a topic you are learning about in homeschool, or perhaps a project related to one of the topics we have covered in Science Class: electronics, light, the electromagnetic spectrum, or earth science. Other fields include Biology, Botany, Chemistry, Psychology, Astronomy, and Physical Science. Your library should have some books that contain science fair project ideas, one popular author is Janice VanCleave. You can also search the web for ideas, I have included some links with project ideas in the sidebar of the Science Fair blog . In your log book write down a few topics or ideas that interest you. Your project should be a test or experiment so you want to come with a question to investigate relating to your topic. Be sure to date the entries in your log book, and if you are working with a partner and sharing a log book, sign your name after each entry you make. Choosing a topic is one of the hardest parts of a Science Fair project, so be sure to devote some time to brainstorming ideas. Assignment # 3 Research notes taken from at least 3 references with bibliography info. Summarize information relating to your topic taken from at least three resources: books, magazines, encyclopedia, websites, DVDs, conversations with experts, etc. This background information will help you formulate your experiment question and hypothesis, and appear in your final written report as Research. Be sure to rewrite the information in your own words, do not copy directly from the resource. After each summary include bibliography information from the resource that you used:
Here's how to write Bibliography information: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Write the author's last name, first name and middle name or initial. Write the name of the article or chapter from your source in quotes. Write the title of the book or source. Write the place where your source was published followed by a colon. Write the publisher name, date and volume followed by a colon and the page numbers.

Tips: 1. Here is an example for Experiment Time, New 2. Here is an example for Mar. 9, 2000. 3. Here is an example for Jan. 8, 2000. a book or magazine -- Smith, John B., 'Science Fair Fun' York: Sterling Pub. Co., May 1990, Vol. 2:10-25. a Web site -- Bailey, Regina, Biology Site, a conversation -- Martin, Clara, Telephone Conversation,

Write your summaries and Bibliography info in your logbook.

Assignment # 4 Finalized title and hypothesis in log. The title the title catches peoples attention and lets them know what your project is about, it should be short (10 words or less) and easy to read. The hypothesis now that you have developed a question to explore and conducted some background research you are ready to formulate a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an educated guess, a statement about how the scientist thinks the experiment will turn out. It is a prediction based on all the available information. The hypothesis will be your opinion deduced from the facts you researched. It should identify the subjects of the experiment (plants, mice) and state what is being measures (growth, weight), the conditions of the experiment (different-colored light sources, junk food versus regular food), and the results expected (light colors produce faster growth than dark colors; a nutritious diet produces higher weights than a junk food diet). For example: Bean plants grown under dark-colored light will grow more slowly than bean plants grown under light-colored light because of a lack of sufficient ultra-violet light waves. Mice raised on a diet of junk food will show lower body weights after 6 weeks than mice raised on a regular diet because of a deficiency of necessary nutrients in the junk food.1

The hypothesis is very important, it will form the basis of your investigation. Assignment # 5 Perform experiment. Now is the time to test your hypothesis! Write down a list of materials you will need in your log book, and start gathering them. Other things to decide are: How many times to conduct your experiment. The number of subjects you will test. How long the experiment will last? How will you measure the effects of your experiment? Where will the experiment be carried out?

Examples taken from The Science Fair Handbook by Anthony Fredericks

Once these decisions have been made you are ready to write your procedure in your log book. The procedure is a set of step by step instructions that you will follow as you carry out your experiment and that another person would be able to follow if they wanted to repeat your experiment. Once you have written your procedure, it is experiment time! Follow your procedure and record your results in your log, perhaps in a table or chart. Remember to take any photographs or make any drawings that you may want to use on your display. Repeat your experiment if necessary, this will make your data more reliable. Assignment #6 Materials, Procedure and Results in log. You should be wrapping up your experiment (see previous assignment). Please enter Materials, Procedure, and Results into your log. Assignment # 7 Charts and Graphs and Conclusion in log. Organize your data into neat charts and graphs that will make it easy for others to see the results of your experiment. You can draw these by hand or use a computer program such as Excel. Assignment # 8 Abstract in log. An abstract is a review of your project in three paragraphs. It should tell the reader what your purpose was, how you went about testing your hypothesis, and what your results were. It should be brief so that viewers and judges can tell at a quick glance what you did for a project. Here is a sample abstract: Many laundry detergents claim to be the best products on the market. The purpose of this experiment was to compare Tide, All, Cheer, and Bold powdered laundry detergents and determine which cleaned mud from cotton most effectively. It was anticipated that All would do the best job. A length of cotton fabric was stained with mud and divided into four pieces. (A small piece of cotton was first set aside to act as a control.) Each of the four was separately washed in warm water on the normal cycle with one of the different detergents. The fabric was hung up to dry and comparisons were then made. From the results, it can be concluded that Tide (not All as stated in the hypothesis) cleaned the cotton best of all the laundry detergents tested.

Assignment # 9 Build display. For your display you will need a tri-fold cardboard presentation board. You can purchase these at store like Michaels, Joanns , Staples or Walmart, or make your own out of old boxes. Your display should include the following elements: o Title- Your title should appear in neat lettering at the top of the board. If you have trouble writing neatly, you can purchase stencils or die-cut letters or print out lettering from a computer. Abstract type up a copy of your abstract and mount it on your display. Hypothesis Include your hypothesis, your prediction of how your experiment would turn out. Materials- a list of materials used in your experiment. Procedure a list of steps you followed to carry out your experiment. Data The results of your experiment. It would be best to show this on charts or graphs because they make the information easier to understand. Color helps! Pictures If you took any pictures of your experiment include them in chronological order, including captions to give the viewer a better understanding. Conclusions This is a statement of what you learned from your experiment. It should be based on the data (results) and state whether or not you proved your hypothesis. Color Being colorful is very important. A plain background with coordinating colors used as matting for your data or pictures make a terrific presentation. You can practice your lay-out before you glue it down.

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Assignment # 10 Type report. If you have been keeping up with the assignments this shouldnt be too tough. Just type up a final copy of your report from the rough drafts you have been writing in your log book. It should include: o o Title page including the title of the report, your name and the date Abstract

o o o o o o o o

Hypothesis Research Materials Procedure Data/Results Conclusion Charts and Graphs Bibliography

Refer to previous assignments for details on writing all these different elements. After your report is typed up, print a copy and put it in a report cover or staple the pages together. You will bring your written report to the Science Fair and then keep it as a record of your work.

Assignment # 11 Complete display, practice presentation. Put the finishing touches on your display (assignment #9) and practice your presentation. At the Science Fair you will be asked to tell the audience about your project so it is a good idea to have a plan of what you will say. You should briefly tell what your project is about, your hypothesis, procedure, results, and conclusion. Also point out any noteworthy aspects of your display. You might want to put notes on index cards. When presenting remember to speak clearly and make eye contact with the audience. Be prepared to answer questions about your project. Assignment # 12 Science Fair! Congratulations! You completed a Science Fair project! You have engaged in the process of inquiry just like scientists the world over. Remember the Science Fair isnt about winning a ribbon, it is about the joy of discovery! Here are some things to bring to the Fair: o o o Your project display and any materials that go with it Your written report Your log book

o o o

Any notes for your presentation A snack to share Your family to share in your success