Science Fairs: Engage!
Teaching science at KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School is truly exciting … and always changing. Since science is always evolving, our curriculum is fluid as well. While a general template is provided for all classes, each teacher personalizes his or her respective course, which allows teachers to incorporate their personal influences into each lesson.
My goal is for my students is for them to independently develop scientific thinking skills that can help them across the entire academic spectrum. I want my students to explore the sciences as they evaluate their own scientific interests. One of the best ways I have found to do this is through the annual Science Exploration & Health Fair.
Most schools already do science fairs. The benefits of these fairs are far reaching. A science project is an opportunity for the student to “cross-train” academically. It involves both critical thinking and presentation skills. Students must be able to demonstrate the scientific method, learn background information, analyze data, and discuss concepts of science as suggested by their own experiments. Science fairs put students on the way to becoming well-rounded scholars.
What makes the KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School Science Exploration & Health Fair unique is that it is not just a school event, but a community event. We partner with the local college to use its ample exhibition space. Professionals from throughout the community are invited to attend. Working scientists from area universities give presentations and interact with students. Community stakeholders from various health- and science-related fields set up booths and distribute information. Our school’s PTO runs a concession stand. Students from our music department perform. The science fair is one way we ensure all members of the Blytheville community have the opportunity to become involved in the educating of the next generation.
The benefits of this event are numerous:
- Students are allowed to grow at their own pace academically.
- The confidence students acquire is directly linked with their increased desire to push themselves forward in their academics.
- The event brings students together with community leaders, providing an opportunity for students to learn practical applications of their scientific work.
- Students get to engage in scientific discussions with professionals working in science-related fields to better understand their projects and to acquire an insight into their intended careers.
- Students gain skills necessary for academic success and a life of value.
- The community becomes more invested in our schools and students.
As you prepare for the next science fair at your school, take a moment and think through the opportunities available to you to grow it beyond being a primarily internal event. How might expanding the event to include the community and area professionals be beneficial to not only your students, but your school? At its core, science is about what is possible. What’s possible for your next science fair?
Teaching science is one of the most rewarding career opportunities life has to offer. The ability to help young minds see a world of possibilities is unlike anything else. The various paths ahead of each one of my students are shrouded in mystery, intertwined with curiosity, wonder, and joy. The next Albert Einstein or Marie Curie could be sitting in any one of our classrooms. Regardless of the career path my students choose, I am excited to see what they accomplish and feel privileged to have been part of their journey.
Damien Myers (pictured above) teaches biology and chemistry, and serves as the science department chair at KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School.