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Introduction to having a Science Fair at your school

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PARTICIPANTS IN THE SUMMER 1994 SMILE+ PROGRAM
CREATED THESE PAGES BASED UPON YOUR
EXPERIENCES AND OTHER SOURCES. 

PORTER JOHNSON
PROFESSOR EMITERIUS
PHYSICS DEPARTMENT
ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
CHICAGO IL 60616-3793
                            
SCIENCE FAIR PACKET
ASSEMBLED MARCH 1995
PORTER W. JOHNSON
SMILE CO-DIRECTOR
ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
SMILE CO-DIRECTOR

 BASED UPON INFORMATION
GATHERED BY PARTICIPANTS
IN THE SMILE+ PROGRAM
AUGUST 1994

Science Fairs and Mathematics Expositions:
What is their purpose?
                     Summary of Discussion at SMILE+ Meeting
17 August 1994

Introduction

I.  Why are there fairs in science and not in other disciplines?
     Fairs were started by local science teachers to foster scientific research. 
     They obtained support from sci-tech businesses.
     Science, home economics, industrial arts, and fine arts are "optional" in
     high school, and thus thrive on publicity.
     "Original research" is emphasized in science, but not in mathematics. 
     However, computer projects may be novel and individualized.
     Science fairs are investigative in nature, like science itself.
     Science/technology is celebrated and respected in American society. 
     Paradoxically, we have fewer and fewer students with math & science
     abilities.

II.  Interdisciplinary aspects of science fairs
      To initiate ideas for its Mathematics Exposition, Disney School uses
      "everyday math".
      Science teachers are "interactive" and actively involved in school
      activities.
      Science fairs should be interdisciplinary, but it is often difficult to
      solicit help from busy faculty members.  Some of them are "afraid" of
      science.  A TIMELINE with a schedule of activities and responsibilities
      will help.
      Students need to have a solid base in mathematics before they can be
      successful in science.  Phenomenology can interest students in science and
      mathematics.

III. Basic Purposes of Science Fair
      Recognition of the school's ability to be competitive.
      Winning.
      Developing student self-esteem and presentation skills.

IV.  Strengthening performance in the fair
      Work directly with students before the fair to improve performance.  To
      encourage participation in the fair, give prizes [from places such as
      Radio Shack] at the fair.
      Teachers should collect ideas all year long, attend other fairs, analyze
      winning trends, and seek organizations [Newberry] that combine fairs from
      different disciplines.
 
V.   Integration of Science Fair into the Educational Objectives of the School
      We can use the science fair/math expo to combat anxiety and intimidation
      in students, parents, faculty, and the public.
      Computers are important for arousing interest in school, including in
      science and mathematics, and in helping with research projects.
      We need to find ways of encouraging students who "don't get it".  Science
      fairs help.
      There is more access and availability of science materials as a result of
      science fairs.
      We need to merge textbook materials and other curricular materials with
      science fair/math expo.
      Administrators must be persuaded that certain properly supervised games
      are instructive as well as entertaining.
 
VI.  Summary
      Unique informal educational experiences.
      Expanded teaching materials.
      "Risk-taking" is encouraged.


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