Super Scientists!

by Jim Dittmann
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By:  Beaver Dam Unified School District – Beaver Dam, WI

Do you know how much sugar is in your favorite drink? Which gum really has the longest lasting flavor? Or, how does one make slime? These are just a few of the many questions Prairie View Elementary School 4th and 5th grade students asked and answered at the Prairie View Science Fair.

The Prairie View Science Fair is an opportunity for students to experience the scientific process and to study inquiry-based science. Paula Letkewicz, 4th grade teacher, stated: “This science fair project allows students to become more knowledgeable about how the world around them works. The kids get very excited about the science fair because they have an opportunity to learn about something they are curious about.” Student choice is an important component of the science-fair process. Another important component is perseverance as students need to plan and meet deadlines in completing a long-term project. Preparations for the science fair began in late January with teachers guiding students on how to create a testable question. From that point, the students learned how to write a hypothesis and design methods for conducting their research and reporting the results. Students then took it upon themselves to work at home to conduct their experiments, collect their data, and create their displays.

The learning culminated with the science fair at school. During the science fair, families and other Prairie View students came to see and hear about each student’s project. Numerous students commented on how they benefitted not from having a right or wrong hypothesis, but by learning why they got those results. Glen Milleville, 5th grade teacher, shared the following: “My hope is that having a science fair is just one way to get the students curious and interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields that they might consider and pursue in the future.”

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