For most parents and teachers, the spring semester means a return to school activities and busy schedules. For students who are serious about science, it’s time to get to work designing their science fair experiments. Some choose to purchase a pre-packaged kit, however you don’t need to break the bank to find a winning idea. Before you whip out your credit card, you should consider these cheap science fair hacks using things around your house. Set a positive learning example and investigate potential projects together.
Keep it Simple
The first step is to use the scientific method to develop a hypothesis. You never know what will spark a child’s imagination, so encourage them to think like a scientist and observe the things around them. They may find inspiration in your garden, refrigerator, recycling bin, garage, or even the family pet. Remember though, safety first!
If your child is still struggling to find an idea, there are a ton of websites and videos that can help. The key is to find something that is age appropriate that they will be able to explain to judges. Parental involvement is always encouraged, but full participation could get your child disqualified. If the student doesn’t understand the scientific principle, then it’s senseless to waste time and effort on it.
Science Fair Dates and Deadlines
It’s easy to forget dates and school events if they aren’t written down. Many important details get lost in the bustle and papers shoved into the bottom of school bags. The last thing you want is to find yourself preparing an entire display the night before it’s due. Speaking from personal experience, I would prefer to avoid the stress and sleepless night of work by planning ahead.
There are many scientific experiments that are both interesting and free, but rely on time and observation. Weather, health, growth cycles of plants or molds, and chemical reactions are great ways to stand apart from the competition. Unfortunately, the experiments are only successful when given enough time to complete.
With a little forethought and guidance, this type of project could be the perfect opportunity to help foster your child’s interest in science. It can also teach them the importance of responsibility with a daily routine.
Strict Supply Budget
Display materials can quickly eat away at your budget, especially if you procrastinate. Take inventory of what you already have and help your child plan the layout for their board. It’s wise to have an idea of what you need before you walk into an art supply or craft store. Otherwise, you may spend a small fortune in stickers, stencils, and printed paper.
If you are unable to recycle old projects, consider teaming up with other parents to buy supplies online or at wholesale clubs. For just under $75, you can buy enough display boards and construction paper for 25 individual projects. It never hurts to search the online classifieds like Craigslist or FreeCycle; you may find exactly what you need for a fraction of the cost.
Science fairs are a unique opportunity to actively engage in your child’s education. Your enthusiasm could instill an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). It could open up a world of new possibilities. Don’t miss out on a chance to connect and teach your children the value of a good education. It’s easy to find a winning science fair project with a little guidance and creativity.