Teen Science Fair Sourcebook: Winning School Science Fairs and National Competitions
Author: Tanya Vicker
As kids grow up, science often becomes a tedious exercise in memorization and pointless facts. But if you talk to scientists, these “boring” facts are keys that they use to unlock mysteries. For engineers facts are like legos, snap-together pieces of knowledge that they can use to build anything they can imagine.
Where does the spark come from that transforms these facts into the magic formula of knowledge and new ideas? I think that it is innate in some kids, to be sure, but I also think that bored kids can become excited by the challenge of learning by seeking answers to their own questions and by seeing it modeled while they study their science.
I suspect it has a lot to do with how we teach science as a one size fits all endeavor, too. It appears that Tanya Vicker thinks so, too. In a newspaper article I found online in The Salt Lake Tribune about Vicker, a science fair coach at the Academy for Math, Engineering and Science (AMES) in Holladay, Utah.
Vicker’s book is entitled Teen Science Fair Sourcebook: Winning School Science Fairs and National Competitions (Prime Single Titles).
The book focuses on using science projects to get teens interested in pursuing science projects that they feel strongly about and then to develop and research for the projects themselves. Driven by their own interests, many students develop original projects that can lead to awards and enormous college scholarship offers. They also learn how to transform their own questions into research and action. I’ve put this on my library list. I suspect that it’s a missing link between introduction to science through rote learning and being a scientist for fun (and profit).
From the article:
It’s about preparing kids for life and post-secondary education. “That means learning to think critically and “celebrating their capacity to become smarter every day,” Church said.
Vickers can think of no better tool than science and says if her students succeed, it’s because of their own ideas and energy.
The “project-based” learning model inherent to science fairs simply unleashes students’ potential, she said. She’s so committed to the ideal, she teaches it at the U.’s education department, training tomorrow’s teachers to weave science into English, history and math curricula.
Kids get so invested in their projects they hardly realize how hard they’re working, Vickers said. Babb, for example, used baby-sitting money to help pay for her test kits. And Vickers recalls another girl whose physics project caught the attention of recruiters at MIT.
“She had never even taken a physics class,” Vickers said. “If you get the right kids matched with the right project, they’ll knock your socks off.”