I recently interviewed two students in the same class to get an idea of how they were handling their science fair projects. And the differences between the two were remarkable. Student A who we will call Johnny (no real names, please), had a whole team behind him.
His mother is a teacher and his sister is an A student who twice won science fair project awards. His father is an engineer and was once a technical writer. How can a student like Johnny do poorly with a support team like that around him? Johnny is a good student, not great but good. He is a B average, sometimes slipping to a C. He does what he has to do, but not much more.
He seemed to be more than willing to have his mother, father and sister take over some of the load of the project. They were all willing to help and Johnny did not stop them. The result was a pretty good project, technically correct and it did indeed observe the scientific method. The display was neat and clean. His hypothesis was reasonably presented and proved.
One thing however was lacking. His project lacked heart. There was no real enthusiasm displayed. He just sort of went thru the motions and completed the assignment without any real joy or imagination.
His presentation was fairly good but he just did not seem that all excited about being there, doing that. The second student was a young lady whom we shall call Jane. Jane is the daughter of a single mom who works.
Jane has a younger sister, whose care is sometimes in Jane's hands. Jane also has a part time job baby sitting for an elderly woman. The old woman is confined to a wheel chair and Jane helps to clean the house, and cooks one meal a day. Jane gets paid nicely for this job which she does when her little sister is in Kindergarten.
Jane is also a B student, getting an A in some subjects and once in a while a C. Jane got assigned a science fair project and was absolutely excited about it. She had never done anything like it before, and neither had her mother, who by the way did computer work in a bank.
She picked a project in a subject she loved - music. She did all the work herself, and all of her own research. She combed the internet for background information, and read many articles about how to make a good science fair presentation. She was creative and imaginative and excited and just loved doing the assignment. And when judgment day came, the judges recognized how much Jane loved what she was doing and Jane won a first place prize.
Sorry to say that Johnny did not place at all. The secret to Jane's award was finding a project in a topic that she loved. Since she was interested in the topic she was happy to do the work and went the extra mile when necessary to make the project even better. The moral of the story is to find a topic that interests you and build a science fair project around it.
You'll enjoy the required work on the project and the judges will see your project enthusiasm.
Mort Barish is co-founder of Terimore Institute, Inc. Terimore provides hundreds of science fair projects with step-by-step guides for children in grades K-12 to help them successfully compete in science fairs. Find fun, easy and award-winning science fair projects at www.terimore.com!