Science Project Resources
School science fairs often put students and parents on the hunt for project ideas. Of course, the point of these projects is for students, not parents, to learn how to plan and implement science! But, naturally, parents want to help their kids succeed.
One of the most beneficial things moms and dads can do is to help their children find resources that teach them how to conduct science. A great little book called "Plant Science Biology Projects" by David Hershey (Wiley Press) helps teach kids about the process of designing experiments. This includes how to pose questions (hypotheses) that are answerable, and what sorts of plant responses are measurable.
There also are many Internet sites -- so many as to boggle the mind! Here are a few that might warrant a closer look:
USDA-ARS Science for Kids
Click on the yellow "More" button on the bottom of the screen to reach the science projects section, or go directly to http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/kids/fair/story.htm. The site is filled with information to help kids understand the process of scientific experimentation and how to get started. It also contains project ideas from an array of disciplines, including botany, chemistry, environment, medicine and zoology. It's a good starting place for beginners.
Internet Public Library Kidspace: Science Fair Project Resource Guide
Internet Public Library has put together a useful resource for those trying to participate in or run a science fair. The site provides scientific methodology tips, project ideas, a section on writing and presenting results, and links to additional resources. A feature unique to this site allows children 13 and younger to ask the staff librarians questions.
National Agriculture Library Kids Science Page
This site has some of the same features as the others, as well as a handy checklist and list of sources for science project supplies. Check out the "Biographical Information About Scientists" page for a list of the key players in the history of science.
Agriculture in the Classroom (sections for kids and teens)
This site has a lot of really cool features, but those on dial-up modems will appreciate the "text version" as well. Like the other sites, there are sections on how to choose topics and design experiments, but this one also has a nice section on how to write a bibliography. Check out the project idea section that includes topics on plants, food and animals targeted to specific age groups.
Discovery Channel Science Fair Central
This site has a lot of resources and hints for selecting and implementing your ideas, including a student handbook and additional fact sheets on astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science and physical science projects. Don't miss the section specifically designed to help parents get involved.
So parents, listen up! There are limitless resources available these days, especially with the help of the Internet. But please, let your kids' fingers do the walking!