Mendoza's Science Fair fosters first-hand student exploration and investigation in the areas of science through reports, experiments, and presentations. Students present their projects to peers, teachers, parents, and all members of the school community. Projects are available for viewing April 16 through April 20th. The science fair judging and awards presentation will be held on Friday, April 20th at 5:00 p.m.. This year we will have over 300 students from kinder through sixth grade participating. Students will work on a variety of projects including ones that include the scientific method in the upper grades and simple science reports and collections from the natural world in the primary grades. Science fair judges will issue first, second, and third place awards by grade level with six categories in each grade including: display awards, oral presentation awards, scientific thought awards, writing awards, research awards, and creativity awards. This event, however, is not about first, second, and third place awards; this is about the process and the effort each student goes through. The fact that each student begins with an idea, proposes it, makes an effort to understand it, complete it, and presents it makes them winners. The participation ribbon is not a consolation prize; it is a badge of accomplishment.
According to the National Science Teachers Association, early experiences in science help students develop essential problem-solving skills that will empower them to participate in an increasingly scientific and technological world. It is important for elementary schools to provide opportunities for students to develop understandings and skills necessary to function productively as problem-solvers in our scientific and technological world. Elementary school students learn science best when they are involved in first-hand exploration and investigation. Learning becomes more meaningful when inquiry and process skills are nurtured. According to research, elementary school students value science best when provided a presentation format that will accommodate their different learning styles. It is also important for students to be given opportunities to interact and share ideas with their peers. A science fair at our school will provide a positive learning environment that promotes and fosters positive attitudes towards self and society, as well as science.
Students participating in this event not only learn about science topics, but also develop essential academic skills. For example, students develop reading comprehension skills because they must research nonfiction-reading material. Reading skills go up since research shows that when students read with a specific purpose, comprehension levels go up. Students paraphrase the scientific research in written form, thus increasing not only their reading skills, but also their writing and oral communication skills as well.
During the science fair, a team of judges comprised of teachers, engineers, high school students, and other community members evaluates each project. The judges use a ten-point scoring rubric on six different criteria (creativity, oral presentation, research, writing, display, and scientific thought). The success of the science fair is also seen in the eyes of students and their parents, as their pride in their project is evident.