Big work is one of the hallmarks of the second plane child (ages 6-12), and the school science fair is a fantastic opportunity for your elementary child to explore that. HOWEVER, I have seen so many science fair projects that have *clearly* been done mostly by the parent, and that’s really missing the point of the whole thing. Trust me — I know how difficult it is to sit by and watch your child choose the ugliest font for her facts, put completely unrelated information on her poster, do one experiment when you can easily think of a “better” one, etc. It’s really hard to not insert your own opinions or way of doing things — but it’s so important that you sit on your hands and bite your tongue, because this isn’t your science fair! You had your chance, Mom & Dad, and now it’s your child’s turn. Sure, you can guide her along the way, answer questions she has, help purchase the supplies — but follow your child’s lead.
There are lots of places you can find specific experiments for kids to do for science fairs — and if you need a jumping off point, let your child search on there! Lila (2nd grade) began with this Ada Twist book, which demonstrates how to use the Scientific Method. She followed the outline to ask a question, do some research, come up with a hypothesis, test it, and then analyze her results.
Now, could I have come up with a better idea and a more flashy project? Probably — I’m almost 35, after all! But what fun would that have been for Lila? Stepping back and letting her handle it helped her to be excited about her project and proud of the final results.
Nora, my Kindergartener, took more of a research project approach, and that’s what I would recommend for younger children. She chose a topic, took notes on it, came up with some ways to demonstrate the topic, and then put it all together on a big posterboard. Again — is it what *I* would have chosen? Nope. Did it take 10 times longer than it would have taken me? Yup [Typing the facts up took her a whole hour!]. But that’s the beauty of child-led big work.
These projects have clearly been completed by children, and look how proud they are of their hard work!