Putting the SCIENCE back into science fair projects

We'd like to put an end to the science fair volcano (Photo credit: jenni_froedrick, Flickr)

Every year, millions of children participate in science fairs. There are many values to science fairs, but one of them is the potential for students to do real science and, in doing so, make actual discoveries. We want the baking soda volcano to become a thing of the past.

We know real scientific discoveries are possible. Many examples exist. For instance, it was a science fair student named Sarah who discovered that Sahara dust ends up, some years, in Texas. E. O. Wilson and Merlin Tuttle both discovered new species (of ants and bats, respectively) when they were of science fair age.

So what are the barriers to having kids do real science? There are many, and unfortunately not all of them can be resolved in a Wednesday afternoon meeting, but we’re going to try. We’re hoping to solve at least one of the key barriers: finding a good idea for doing real science in the first place.

This Wednesday (yes, TOMORROW, November 14), we hope to bring together scientists from many fields, our creative colleagues, and collaborating citizen scientists to brainstorm a list of projects that are easy to do with limited technology but that might result in real scientific discoveries.

We’ll be be live tweeting it from @YourWild_Life using the hashtag #kidsdoscience so if you can’t participate in person, you can by tweet.

The fun starts at 3:30p EST – We’ll be meeting in person in Room 123 in David Clark Labs at North Carolina State University (Directions). Please come with some ideas for projects in hand and ready to go. We will begin with some discussion, but will then move quickly into free list mode.

And of course, feel free to get things started early in the blog’s comment thread and via Twitter.

By |2016-11-22T13:47:30-05:00November 13th, 2012|

About the Author:

Holly Menninger
As Director of Public Science, Holly coordinates our empire of citizen science projects and manages the online science communication here at Your Wild Life. An entomologist by training, she’s a science communicator by passion and practice.


  1. Avatar
    Tim Klein November 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    What a great idea! Have you posted the ressults anywhere yet?

  2. Avatar
    Beth November 29, 2012 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Please let the NC Science & Engineering folks know next time you do this! We would have loved to join and record to share on our web site!

    One big note in case others read this – project involving microorganisms (fungus, bacteria, mold etc.) are NOT allowed (in NC and most other states too). This means anything involving plating – unless it is done in a laboratory. Doing this at home can be dangerous.

    In any case, I will definitely link the Storify on our web site. Thank you!!

  3. Holly
    Holly January 23, 2013 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    As a follow-up, our new team member (and resident educator), Lea Shell just wrote a related follow-up post about science in science fair projects – Check it out: http://yourwildlife.org/2013/01/three-ways-to-put-the-science-back-in-science-fairs/

  4. Avatar
    Alastair February 12, 2013 at 1:01 am - Reply

    Amazing idea!

    I really like this idea and I have also checked your Storify link mentioned in your comment. I have read all our your posts there on storify.

    Keep updating us with more useful and interesting topics.

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