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Science Fair Participation Slips

Science fairParticipation among high school students in science fairs appears to be declining. Ironically, many science teachers fault the Obama administration. Even as the White House promotes science fairs, the administration’s policies hold schools accountable for math and reading scores at the expense of creative science, they say.

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What is a Science Fair?

Science FairA science fair is generally a competition where contestants present their science project results in the form of a report, display board, and models that they have created. Science fairs allow students in grade schools and high schools to compete in science and/or technology activities.

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The History of Science Fairs

Science Fair Set-upScience Fair history began when journalist E.W. Scripps created Science Services as a nonprofit organization in 1921. Through Science Service’s efforts, junior academies of science, museums, and local science clubs throughout the United States were enrolled in Science Clubs of America. As a result over 600,000 young scientists were organized into 25,000 science clubs.

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Feature: Fired Up

Maker FaireThousands throng to Maker Faire, an annual Bay Area celebration of hackers, inventors, and do-it-yourself creators. And now, middle and high school students are joining in. One result: Saphira, an 8 1/2-foot-tall, fire-breathing dragon.

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Outreach: NFPA Fluid Power Challenge

Challenge DayThe NFPA Fluid Power Challenge is a competition that challenges eighth grade students to solve an engineering problem using fluid power. They work in teams to design and build a fluid power mechanism, and then compete against other teams in a timed competition.

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Broadcom Sponsors STEM Competition

STEM ProjectSemiconductor manufacturer Broadcom will spend $6 million over six years to fund a new STEM competition, the Broadcom MASTERS, focusing on 6th, 7th, and 8th-graders. In its first year, Broadcom expects 7,500 students from 350 science fairs across the country will be nominated for the contest.

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Website: Science Fair Central

Teachers will find a wealth of science fair resources at Science Fair Central, part of the classroom resources offered by Discovery Channel. Separate sections of this page include: Idea finder, Project timeline, and Virtual lab. Guidelines for parents and science fair coordinators are included, as well as help on the various steps in undertaking a science project.

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Website: KidWind

KidWindThe KidWind Project website offers free resources for teaching about wind power in the K-12 classroom. KidWind offers lesson plans, introductions to key concepts, plans and guides for building model wind turbines, and links to resources around the web. KidWind regularly hosts workshops, events, and conventions, as well.

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Website: Here come the Science Fairs!


Starting to ponder the upcoming science fair and projects? Be sure to consult Science Buddies, a Website that boasts 900+ free project ideas, organized by grade level, difficulty, and topic. The Science Buddies site is packed with supporting materials for teachers and parents, and offers “free science fair ideas, answers, and tools for serious students.”

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