Friday, April 11, 2008

G.U.E.S.S. Homeschool Science Fair

What does a homeschool mother do when she wants her children to take part in a science fair? She, and a friend organize one.

On May the 5th this year, our children will take part in the first ever, Get Up and Explore Science Spectacular (G.U.E.S.S.) Homeschool Science Fair.

If you are reading this blog from the Tidewater area and want to sign up for the fair, click here . This is our "beta" year, so we're definitely working out the kinks, including online registration, generating sponsors, acquiring judges, and refining our guidelines. Next year we're planning to go even bigger, and hold the fair earlier in the year so that our winner can go on to the regional event in this area. If you'd like to be a part, please register by Monday, so we can finalize our list of entries. Updates coming soon!

We've had great excitement in our house over the experiments. Ben is fascinated by the weather and his first idea needed me to drive him to the beach 3 times a day for 21 days. I tried and tried, but couldn't convince him that there were better ideas, ideas that didn't need so much of my time and gas but he wouldn't have any of it. So, in typical mean mommy fashion, I got him up at o'dark 30 on the first day and took him off to the beach, then I told him that we'd have to do it well after bedtime and that for the next three weeks I was going to have to wake him up in the dark. That's all it took. Ben now has a different science fair project. Can't say I am disappointed. It's still weather related but only needs an anemometer and thermometer on our deck plus an internet connection. Works for me. He's getting a crash course in data collection and graphing. He's testing whether the actual temperature and wind chill in our very protected back yard are different from the actual temperature and wind chill at a nearby weather station that is not surrounded by brick buildings.

Shira is measuring how different solutions effect the longevity of cut flowers. So far, we can confirm that unlike humans, cut flowers do not thrive or even like wine.

I'm loving how working on the science fair is developing a love of science in my children. Lydia did a great job explaining concept of hypotheses to the children. One of our current favorite car trip activities is coming up with hypotheses that we could test. I see many more experiments in our future.

I used this as a great link in to the unit on Carl Sagan's "Baloney detection kit" that Dr Bernard Nebel talks about in his book, Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2..

I knew that I had to teach Ben and Shira how to differentiate between reality and "baloney" but wasn't quite sure how to go about it within the scientific sphere. I've found that by following Dr Nebel's advice, that I it's quite easy. it just needs lots and lots of repetition and I don't doubt that I'll still be reminding the children of all the issues for many years.

I've spent years researching science curricula for the early elementary years and struggled to find anything that taught scientific concepts hierarchically and integrated them with one another. I was beyond excited when I discovered Dr Nebel's book. It's everything I could ever have wished for in a beginning science curriculum. I like how he makes it easy for the teacher to understand why she needs to do something and helps her build the connections for the children.

I especially like how he provides free online support.. You can't beat the price for this science program either, it costs $24.99 at and you can find most of the supplemental reading at the library. So far, I've managed to do all the experiments using stuff I have in my home.

I hope he finishes the 3rd-5th grade book before we finish this one.


Michelle (the beartwinsmom) said...

That sounds like FUN, FUN, FUN!!! Wish we lived closer so we could participate. Casey is big-time into weather, too.

Hugs, MG

Our Home Schooler and Jen said...

FUN and interesting
happy learning to you all

Shez said...

MG and Jen, we're looking forward to the fair in a big way. watch this space, I intend to blog about the fair itself.