By MH Staff - Posted on 8th October 2013
Help your kid rule the science expo
Kids in primary school don’t have to experiment with uranium. Ask your kid to look around the kitchen with a questioning eye: why is fizzy cooldrink bubbly? Why do some bottles have caps and others corks? Comparing items shows the type of critical thinking that judges value, so go beyond just observation.
Once your child has settled on a subject, it’s time for you to back off. Judges can tell when an adult has interfered too much; besides, the child will learn more by taking the reins. Request a simple assignment instead. Say you’ll be the “assistant” to set the tone. Ask questions instead of providing explicit instructions.
Judges will look to see if the student stayed with the scientific method. (Hypothesis, experimentation, refine the idea, experimentation, final statement... remember?) If your child becomes upset because the experiment isn’t playing out perfectly, just say it’s part of the process. After all, that’s how science works.
Solid science beats a loud, flashy display every time. Keep the presentation to a trifold, going easy on the neon and glitter. And resist the urge to edit: you can point out glaring errors in the report, but don’t sweat the occasional stray comma or sloppy letter. This is one time when too much perfection can thwart success.
1. Test different dishwashing soaps on greasy plates to see which ones clean best. Are manufacturers’ claims all they’re cracked up to be? 2. Put tea leaves in a cup with water, and stir. The leaves aren’t thrown to the outside as you’d imagine, but move to the middle. How come? Try it with other things like peppercorns or sunflower seeds. How do they compare? 3. Test how texting affects critical thinking. Ask your child to solve problems while texting and not texting and note the elapsed times. Then have him or her replicate the experiment with other people. Why are the results the way they are?