Okay so let me start by admitting that every year about this time when the Science Fair rolls around, I would inwardly cringe. As a former bilingual teacher, it wasn’t because I didn’t think that students should pursue different learning experiences but the reality was that for my families the resources were just not there. I did not have the time to individually work with each child to do a science experiment and then transfer it on to the cardboard foldout. Okay… I’ve gotta admit that I am not a fan of the cardboard foldout either. With all of the technology that we have access to, the best we can do now is a cardboard foldout…. really?
My issue with the Science Fair was not the content or the process that it encourages but rather the delivery and the heavy reliance on factors that my students couldn’t control like family involvement and monetary resources to pursue different investigations. I also believe that science needs to be a hands-on investigative process for all students irregardless of the factors beyond the child’s control.
So this year I approached our Science Fair committee with an idea. Could we possibly add a Build Night or Maker portion to our Science Fair? Instructables had just selected our school to receive 5 Makey Makeys as well as Circuit Scribes. What if we created along side the traditional Science Fair so that all students could participate? The Science Fair committee was extremely supportive of the idea.
So here is what we have planned:
1. A Sphero Maze – Students in our After-School program will be designing challenge mazes out of cardboard to be used with our Spheros in a Sphero Challenge. The maze will be designed after the Dr. Seuss book – Oh, The Places You Will Go.
2. LED bookmarks – Thanks to Instructables we have remaining LEDs and using the following modification of the LED bracelet, we are going to make LED bookmarks. Our Science Fair coincides with Read Across America week so all of our Build Night activities will connect to a book.
3. Makey Makey and Circuit Scribe exploration – Students will explore different materials to create with the Makey Makeys. The After-School group will test some different activities that will be highlighted but this area will be available with different materials and ways to use both the Makey Makeys and the Circuit Scribe.
Here is a Symbaloo that has been started to inspire our students in our first ever Science Fair / Build Night / Read Across America Night.