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All participants should be expected to follow nationally developed rules and regulations that ensure safety for the experimenter, other humans, and animals.This concept extends into science fairs where subjects may be involved that are not typically present in the classroom.Comparing the effects of different fertilizers on a plant and drawing conclusions is a weak project, particularly if the student relies on only two plants and one fertilizer to draw conclusions.
Project quality and a student’s successful achievement of good inquiry skills vary greatly from fair to fair.
Participation in a science fair should not be viewed as the “one shot” opportunity for teachers to involve their students in inquiry, but rather it should provide both extensions and reinforcements to skills that were developed over time through a variety of classroom activities.
The better projects are the result of a student actually doing research.
While he or she may not know everything about the project to start, research usually gives them a solid rationale for doing it.
Having a rationale generally relates to the project having a basis in scientific theory and/or law when developing the idea.
For example, the development of an experiment related to motion that is generated from an understanding of Newton’s Laws of Motion should be founded upon accepted principals.Students should be made aware of proper safety rules and procedures through adequate classroom instruction, while other individuals involved with the projects should be informed through letters that are sent home (and returned with appropriate signatures) or through mandatory science fair project meetings to be attended by any parties involved (see Resources for safety guidelines).Go the extra mile in collecting and presenting data (particularly if the idea is not unique) Frequently, students cut corners when collecting data and doing a substantive experiment.Specifically, if you want to determine which fertilizer works best, there are a number of variables that may be used to answer a variety of questions.Many successful science fair projects are designed to answer related questions such as: “Which plant type works best with which fertilizer?Understanding proper technique is certainly important to having a good project, but it does not necessarily guarantee one.More specifically, many projects, while following good experimental procedure, lack in other areas. Parent or guardian help may be fine, but know the project.6. Research and have a rationale for the project Often, a project appears to have no experimental purpose.Furthermore comparing two fertilizers placed on two of the same type plants is a very simple and common experiment that will not get high marks at a fair.The best projects are those that use multiple samples, contain well-defined variables, have treatments that are measured over a considerable period of time (weeks), and illustrate the process of retesting to provide experimental reliability.” This approach demonstrates that a student actually has an interest in which fertilizer is most effective for growth enhancement, has a real enthusiasm for what they are doing, and illustrates the student’s understanding of a scientifically-based investigative process.Despite any errors that may be found in a project of this type, most judges will look favorably upon a student who shows passion and willingness to go the extra mile.