Tuesday, May 13, 2008

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

What are two homeschooling moms to do when they want their children to do a science fair and they can't find one for love or for money? That's right, they arrange one themselves.

Lydia and I had no experience in arranging science fairs, but then, we had no experience teaching kids (at least I didn't, Lydia taught college level English) before we started homeschooling. We've seen how easy it is to teach our kids so we figured that arranging a science fair would be a doddle. It wasn't tough, but it was a lot of work. Work, though, that was well worth it. I highly recommend that more homeschool parents take the bull by the horns and arrange their own science fairs. Lydia and I would love to mentor you through your first fair.

After less than 3 months of planning and arranging, the G.U.E.S.S. Homeschool Science Fair took place on May 5th in Norfolk VA, where smart young scientists shared their research and conclusions with their peers, their families, and the judges. Fun was had, friends were made, hypotheses were proven, and prizes were awarded!

We kept the fair small at around 30 children, for this, our "beta" year. Contestants were all by invitation only. Why did we do this? As confident as we are in abilities, we figured we should walk before we run. We wanted a situation where if we made mistakes, the contestants and their parents would be very forgiving. Our "beta" year was a huge success and we are now confident that we can successfully open the fair to the entire homeschooling community next year. Current interest indicates that we can probably expect 200 or more children next year. Now that's what I call a success!

This was my first ever science fair, I grew up in a country where they were unknown. I read a zillion websites and books, spoke to tons of people and thought I had a good idea about what a science fair should be like. All my third hand experiences did for me was give me an understanding for the mechanics of a fair. They did nothing to give me a feeling for the energy of a science fair. The buzz, the excitement, the sheer exuberance of the little scientists as they showed off their experiments had to be experienced to be believed.

It was such a pleasure watching the children earnestly explain their experiments to each other and listen to each other with rapt attention.

To entertain the children while the judges tallied their results, Mad Science, one of our sponsors demonstrated that science can be fun.

Bubbling carbon dioxide

Playing with fire

Another highly gratifying part of the entire experience was realizing how many businesses have the best interests of homeschoolers at heart. Everyone we approached for sponsorship willingly sponsored us. As a result, our children walked away with great prizes. This really helped cement the idea that science is fun, and rewarding.

If you would like to help us thank the generous science fair sponsors by boosting their links on key search words, please steal this section of this post, links and all, and republish it to your blog. When you've done this, email guess@littleblueschool.com and let us know, so that we can add you to our "Science Fair Bloggers" and give you some links and traffic too! You'll get a link on Little Blue School, Homeschooled Twins, and on the homeschool science fair web site. Need the code? Click here to get the .txt file with all the links in place. (right click to save the txt file and open it in notepad to see all the html)

Moore Expressions is a homeschool bookstore in Virginia Beach, VA. They sell used and new homeschooling curriculum, host a support group, and publish a newsletter called the Bayith Educator. They are the premier source for homeschooling books in the Hampton Roads area.

Art of Dance Academy is a dance and theater school on the border of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. They offer "Tiny Tots" toddler dance classes, youth classes for ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop, and adult classes too. Most importantly, the host the famous summer princess dance camp.

Norfolk Karate Academy offers classes in Tang Soo Do (Korean karate) and Gracie Jiu Jitsu (Brazilian grappling and self-defense). With classes for children, teens, and adults, it's a great way for anyone to get in shape and kick things in a socially acceptable way!

Nauticus is Norfolk's maritime museum and home of the USS Wisconsin battleship. The hot new exhibit is Seabots: Pilots of the Deep! Have you seen it? Nauticus is in the process of setting up a Homeschool Advisory Group to talk about homeschool science programs at the museum.

Mariner's Museum has amazing programs for homeschoolers learning about maritime science, history, and even pirates! Their next homeschool open house is on May 15th and features a class in pirate lore. Visit Mariner's Museum for historical exhibits and educational programming.

Homeschoolingbooks.com offers homeschool curriculum packages to take the guesswork out of selecting materials that compliment each other to create a whole year of learning for your homeschooler. Three collections are available for each level, and individual books are for sale too.

Brooks Systems offers standalone software and web applications that check legal compliance in all municipalities in all fifty states, and create truth-in-lending documents for residential lenders. Using Brooks for your automated mortgage compliance, you can be sure your loans are safe.

Dr. Bernard Nebel has written two books to help homeschool teachers integrate learning in different areas of the curricula into one living breathing learning experience. His new book, Building the Foundations for Scientific Understanding, is a science curriculum for K-2.

Young Chef's Academy is a marvelous kitchen classroom with amazing cooking classes for kids. Go ahead - cover yourself in flour! Most amazing of all: their summer camp offerings are themed around the Olympic Games. Cook for the Gold with Camp Can-I-Cook in Norfolk this summer.

Mad Science is Hampton Roads' premier provider of science enrichment classes for children. Summer classes include "Crazy Chemistry" and a space camp developed with NASA! New homeschool science classes are being offered in Norfolk and VA Beach, with more planned for fall.

eScienceLabs creates boxes of joy for science loving homeschoolers. In each kit is a complete science experience -- from individual lessons to full years of high school labs. Hands-on science kits are the answer to your laboratory woes. Everything is in there: test tubes, goggles, and fun.

Folkmanis Puppets makes the most delightful animal puppets available outside Santa's workshop. Meet their most unusual creations like llamas, Chinese dragons, ostriches, flying squirrels. Unusual materials create realistic textures, and they all move in very realistic ways. Irresistible.

Book Exchange is the largest used bookstore in Eastern Virginia. Unlike most musty and confusing used stores, this one is clean, bright, inviting, and has a huge selection of used homeschool books.

Thank you for your help in promoting these homeschool-friendly sites. They took a risk on sponsoring us in the first year of our science fair, and we appreciate their support.


Silvia said...

Thanks for the CoH submission! I'm looking forward to watching the video clips and visiting your sponsor when the carnival is complete. :)

Sebastian said...

This was cool. I hope that you'll do a follow up with more of the nitty gritty of what you did and lessons learned.

Denise said...

Wow! I would say organizing your own science fair means that you found one "for love" after all.

Summer said...

How amazing that you were able to put together your own science fair! It just shows that homeschooling moms are a pretty crafty bunch!