Friday, 25 July 2014

Science Fair Season


I've been spending some of my summer moments reading this book, "Science Fair Season" by Judy Dutton.  Let me tell you, it has not been a waste of my time!  This book tells the story of 12 science fair competitors at international fairs.  Judy found out the story behind their projects and there is a chapter for each.  I seriously haven't made it through a chapter without crying (sometimes more than once)!
Okay, I know what you are thinking?  She's crying over a science fair book?  Seriously? 



Seriously.

I'm so passionate about science and the inquiry skills students can gain from going deeply into a fair project.  It's a wonderful opportunity for self directed study into an area they care about.  (How many times have you heard "why do we have to learn this?")  The integration between subject areas is great: language arts, math, philosophy, history....  I don't know about you, but here in S.D. #60, project based learning is huge.  Science fair is one great way to attack this type of learning.
Science is inclusive.  Everyone can be engaged in science regardless of their income, gender, or culture.  Science is all around us every day in so many ways.

I hate it when science fair time rolls around and parents moan and complain about having to buy a few things, or spending time with their child to put finishing touches on their board.  Last year, there was this picture going around on Pinterest of a science fair board with "data" on the turmoil of science fair on parents.  My blood boiled whenever I saw it.  Someone printed it out and put it on the whiteboard at school.  I *may* have crumpled it up, opened it back up, ripped it into pieces, and thrown it in the garbage.

Okay, do you get it now? I love science.

So, back to the book.  I think the story that has touched me the most is one about a Navajo boy, Garrett Yazzie, who lives in a rundown trailer with his family.  They don't have hot water, the walls are leaking.  To keep warm they burn charcoal which wreaks havoc on his sisters asthma.  He designs a solar-powered heater out of a 1967 Pontiac radiator, 69 soda cans, and other junk he found around town.  This is a boy who had no interest in school and no self confidence.  Through his science fair winnings he gained self-worth, traveled beyond his small town (for free!), and changed the health and welfare of his family.  Not to mention the most amazing part: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition surprised his family and build them a new home that runs entirely on solar power.  How cool is that?  Science fair seriously changed this boys life path.  He went on to university, which he likely wouldn't have done before.  Do you see why I was crying?

This book really reminded me of why I put in the long hours for science fair.  If you have any interest in science, or maybe even if you don't, I highly recommend this book.

And, for sticking it out on this long post (rant), here is a freebie for you!  The picture below links to 6 "Keep Calm and Think Science" posters.  There are 3 image choices, and 2 font choices.  These are big - 24 x 36 inches.  So you could go have them printed somewhere in a huge poster size.  I didn't add any copyright info to them, because I wouldn't want that on my posters, so please refer people back here if they ask where you got them.  Thanks!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0Igh6mSemIGTzFmNUJQakF4dm8/edit?usp=sharing


Check out my Science Fair Pinterest board for more inspiration.

Disclaimer: No one asked me to write this blog post.  This book was recommended to me by another member of my Regional Science Fair committee.  (Thanks Tammy!)

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