Sunday, February 6, 2011

There's Value in Old-Fashioned Science Fairs

I've decried the lack of research paper assignments. Today my old fogey remarks are related to science fairs.

President Obama recently said that science fair winners should be celebrated just as much as Super Bowl winners. Science fairs seem to die out after middle school. We need them in high schools. These fairs, for decades, enabled students who might not have considered themselves scientist material to think about science as a career. Michele Glidden, of the nonprofit Society for Science & the Public, said, "Science fairs develop skills that reach down to everybody's lives, whether you want to be a scientist or not."

Of course, one of the reasons the fairs are becoming so rare is that teens are too busy doing other things to help them get into college -- and yet the fundamentals learned in doing these projects might help them be more successful students and more engaged citizens than some of the other activities. And, these fairs help students get excited about science in ways that classroom learning just can't elicit.

My high school didn't have science fairs. That was a pity. Our daughter will be participating in one later this spring -- a group endeavor. So not only will she gain more knowledge about the subject but she and her peers will also gain more experience in collaboration.

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