FES Science Fair - "B" Grade Contract

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Science Fair - Grade 5/6

May, 1999

B Grade Contract

Shelby Dowty

On April 12, 1999, I sent a Notice out to all fifth and sixth grade teachers at Falls Elementary School asking for their classroom participation in a May Science Fair. The fifth and sixth grades at Falls Elementary could total up to 250 students. When the Science Fair took place on Tuesday, May 4, 1999, there were approximately 125 students participating. The students worked either individually or with up to three people composing their groups.

I team teach in a 5/6 multi-age classroom so for half of the day there are 54 students in our classroom. Instead of having the students pick their own groups, we decided that it might be fun to use the Barnyard Babble to assemble our groups. The objectives to this activity is to build community inclusion, divide students into groups, and have a hilarious time. To organize this process, I had to write the names of 17 different animals on a slip of paper making sure there was one for each student. These animal sheets were arranged in groups of three so we would end up with 17 groups of three. After writing down all the animal names, we put the sheets of paper in a bucket and headed outside. The students formed a circle and started picking a paper sheet out of the bucket. The students were not allowed to make any animal sound until everyone had their animal sheet. Then, the only sound that could be made was the sound of the animal written on the students paper sheet in order to find his/her Science Fair group. To say the least, it was loud, fun, and hilarious.

In their groups, the students were asked to use the Scientific Method as follows: 1) Identify the question. 2) Form a hypothesis 3) Gather data 4) Form a conclusion. In order that all this information was presented by the student groups, the students were asked to do a tri-fold board out of cardboard. On the left hand side of the board, the students were to include materials needed and the procedure they followed for their experiment. In the middle of the board, the students were to have the title, the names of the students in the group, and state their hypothesis. On the right hand side of the board, the students were to show, if possible, data with charts and graphs and state their conclusion of their experiment.

In realizing that the Scientific Method can be somewhat difficult to comprehend at this age level, I arranged with the Community Service Coordinator at Rainy River Community College to have Physics, Biology, and Chemistry college students assist our fifth and sixth grade students in challenging the Scientific Method. Times were arranged for all the participating classes in order that the college students would arrive at a convenient time for all teachers and student participants. It was a great process for our fifth and sixth graders as well as for the college students. Some of the college students working with our students are still undecided about going into teaching or working with kids. I think the process we followed with their assistance helped to make their decision much easier. Whether that is good or bad, Im not sure!

The students were now on their own to finish their Science Fair project. In our classroom, we gave the students plenty of classroom time. The students were told they would be judged on the following: 1) Ingenuity - originality of the project and creativity of the project; 2) Presentation - display attractiveness, professionalism of student presenters, verbal communication skills of presenters, and courteousness/politeness of presenters; 3) Project Quality - neatness, quality of scientific conclusions, and durability; 4) Science Based - follows the scientific method, good scientific procedure, and extent research and study required; 5) Student Knowledge and Participation - all project members are in attendance, quality of answers given to the judges questions, and apparent knowledge of subject matter; 6) Scientific Paper - format used on display board, grammar, spelling, use of proper language, and content. All of these categories were rated from 0-15. A score of zero indicates that the criteria was not met at all, while a score of 15 indicates near perfection. Prizes were awarded on total points basis.

There were eight judges from the high school judging the Science Fair projects. The high school students consisted of ninth and tenth graders who had participated in their own Science Fair in the past. The judges worked in pairs with two pairs judging projects making sure that all experiments were judged twice. I did have the judges organized immediately on who they would be judging and the procedure they should follow. All the projects were numbered for the convenience of students setting up and for judging.

The prizes for the Science Fair were all donated by local businesses and the Falls Elementary Parent Involvement Committee. First place was a one night stay at the Holiday Inn, second place was a $50 gift certificate to On Cue, third place was a $30 gift certificate to Top Ten Video, fourth place was a $20 gift certificate to Stop and Shop Video, fifth place was three free Cine 1-2 show passes, and sixth place was three free Subway sandwiches. Students will be asked to write letters of thank you to the above businesses and Parent Involvement Committee.

The third and fourth grade classes were all invited to the showing of the Science Fair during Tuesday afternoon at the same time the juding took place. All student participants were also asked to take home an invitation to their parents to attend the event which took place from 1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. A local newspaper photographer was also invited to attend to take pictures and write up a short article.

Things I would do different in the Science Fair next year would be:

1. All fifth and sixth graders participate.

2. Have the Science Fair in the month of February or March.

3. Work the judging differently. All judges need to somehow see all the projects in order to make the judging more fair.

4. I would like to role model a display board and experiment using the Scientific Method.

5. I would make sure the showing for judges took place as an evening event. I would continue to invite third and fourth graders so they can see what they have to look forward to. However, I would have the third and fourth grade showing be in the afternoon so that it does not conflict with when judging is taking place.

-- Anonymous, May 09, 1999


Dear Shelby, The meeting with Terri Shannon on Friday brought several questions to address on your proposal before going on to Ed Lundstrom.

They are as follows: 1.) A rationale for the schools chosen for your questionnaire needs to be included. (If these districts are not randomly chosen, the information you gather will only apply to those schools.) 2.) The questions posed on your questionnaire are too general as there are differneces among tribes. Objectivity is the purpose of the research project.

Suggestions: Consult with Tom Peacock - use his book as a reference - call Tom for advice.

Please adjust your proposal to include these above suggestions. Let me know if you have further questions, Shelby. Remember, this is all part of the process to make it the best study it can be. We'll be in touch, Mary Ann

-- Anonymous, June 06, 1999

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