Science we come!

by Mrs. Nilsen on January 11th, 2013

Weekly Science News 1/7 - 1/11

This blog is all about the 2013 MRA Science Fair.  It's a long one.  I've tried to put lots of headings so that you can read through and find information easily.  Please mark this post and come back to it if you have questions, comments, or concerns.  Add them to the comment section below and we can all benefit from each other's insights and questions.  I'm so looking forward to the Science Fair this year!!  It's an incredible learning experience for the students who choose to fully dive in and experience Science at it's best.  

Mark your Calendars! Who: MRA Seniors What: 2013 MRA Science Fair When: March 20th from 9am - 11am Where: MRA Gym

Mark your calendars now for the day before Spring Break begins - March 20th!! It's the last day of the 2nd Trimester and the Science Fair will play a major part in the 2nd term science reports.  It will be a fun and exciting morning.  Set up from 8:30 to 9.  The fair will be open to parents, the school, and the broader community from 9 to 11 am.  Clean up from 11 to 11:30.  More to come on help, volunteering, and the schedule in the coming weeks.

Science Fair Overview

Types of Projects

Option 1: Experimental - This type of project begins with a question of a scientific nature. It involves changing a variable, observing and recording the effects of changing the variable, and interpreting the importance of these effects. Experimental projects must have a control group to compare results to. Repeated trials or the use of large sample sizes are important processes to reduce the possibility of error and increase the validity of the results.  Paper is written on this process and includes all steps of the scientific method.
Option 2: Independent Scientific Study - These projects involve advanced research into an area of scientific interest.  The set up is much like experimental projects but missing some of the structure of the scientific method (i.e. the experiment part).  Paper for this project is more of a “research paper,” including a thesis, supporting details, and data.  Paper will show a deep understanding of the topic researched.  Paper must include a thesis, supporting data, and sources.
NOTE: Product testing is not an acceptable scientific study.

4 Parts of every Science Fair Project 

Logbook: The logbook contains a dated account of everything that concerns the project. Every student is required to keep detailed notes, original observations and data from the experiment, and research in the logbook. From the logbook comes the information that will be the basis for the research paper.
Research Paper: This part of the project is approximately five (typed) pages long. It must be typed or written in ink.  It is based upon the information that was kept in the logbook and specific content depends on the project chosen. 
Exhibit Board/Display: The purpose of the display is to show what the student has done. It includes elements from the research paper and other necessary information. The exhibit should be visually appealing, using color and photos to convey the work accomplished by the student. Photographs that are dated and labeled are useful to relay the progress of the experiment, and/or the outcome of the experiment. The exhibit includes a component called an abstract, which is a summary of the project.  Displaying parts of the experimental equipment (for option 1) is highly encouraged if possible.
Presentation: Each student will be able to give a 3-5 minute presentation about their project (either option) to audience members as they walk through the science fair.  Presentation will be graded on Oregon state speech standards.

Due dates and deadlines

Proposal - written proposal of what student wants to do is due on Jan 7th
Logbook - check-ins in class along the way and final due the day of the fair.
Research paper - Rough draft due TBA /  Final Draft Due TBA (will be due a couple weeks before the fair)
Exhibit - Due the day before the fair (Tuesday March 19th)
Presentation - TBA (will be due a week or so before the fair)

Science Fair expectations in detail

Now that you know a bit about the general parts of the Science Fair, below I've gone into great detail about what I expect, WHEN things are happening in class, and what students should be doing OUTSIDE of class to be prepared for the Science Fair.

4 Parts in further DETAIL:

Logbook: This is where the majority of our work in class has been so far.  Logbooks can be ANY type of notebook.  They don't even need to be new.  At most, students will need about 1/3 of a normal notebook, so they can reuse it for future science fairs as well.  They can decorate and organize it any way they want.  The following things must be included in their logbook.
  • Logbook Expectations
  • 4 Parts of the SF Project paper
  • How to evaluate sources pg
  • Project Proposal
  • List of ALL sources
  • A paragraph that evaluates each of my sources
  • Research
  • (If doing the Experimental Option) Each part of your experiment, results, data, graphs, etc. 
  • Rubrics (4 total)
We will be working on the Science Fair in class every WEDNESDAY from here until the fair.  Logbooks and sources need to be brought to class every Wednesday and any other days that I designate to work on the science fair.  We will make note of them in our student planners.

In class, we are working on learning about each of the elements listed above.  We are learning how to evaluate sources, how to find sources (how to actually conduct a "good" internet search or find a book in the library), how to research, how to take notes (in multiple different ways and styles), and so much more.  It is imperative that Logbooks are in class on those days so that students are set up for success when they do their own research at home.  A good Logbook gives students a HUGE HEAD START on their paper.

Research Paper: There are different requirements for this based on grade.  Please check the appropriate rubric for specific of the paper.  

In class, we are learning all about plagiarism (both intended and accidental), paraphrasing, summarizing, quoting, and other aspects of writing a good research paper.  We are taking notes in our Logbooks as we learn these vital academic skills.  The paper will be graded by each student's ELA teacher and myself (for the science content portion).  Students are getting instruction in both ELA and science for this part of the project.  There will be at least one rough draft due along the way.  The final paper will be due a few weeks before the actual fair to give students time to focus on their presentation closer to the fair date.
Exhibit Board/Display: This is the part of the project that people usually think of when you think of a science fair.  It can include a tri-fold board, but it doesn't have to.  It can include other elements  too, such as plants, parts of an experiment, things to pass out, and/or other props.  We will not start looking at this in detail until closer to the fair.  This should be one of the last elements worked on, as research and writing need to be done before a student can work on their display.
Presentation: Like with the research paper, students are being graded/helped/instructed by two teachers for this portion of the project.  Mrs. Blythe as the drama/speech teacher will be assisting students on the presentation of their speech.  They will develop a formal speech to be graded by the teacher, and informal ways to present the information based on their audience for the fair (for example, a Kindergartner won't listen to a 5 minute speech, so we'll practice 3 facts or something small to tell them).   We will work the last few weeks before the fair on this part, so papers and research need to be done before that point.  

Parents - how to help your student

Parents, please be checking on Engrade to know if your student is caught up on assignments as I'm giving them.  I will be giving small science fair related homework assignments that will aid students in their research or other parts of the fair.  PLEASE ask me questions below (so others can see them and benefit from them), on email (if you have a more personal question that you don't want others to see), or in person.  I'm here to help in any way that I can.  This is a big project and it takes a lot of scaffolding from both me and you to help our students be the most successful they can be. 

Volunteering - when we get closer to the fair I will also be looking for a few specific tasks to be done and some parent help.  Let me know if you will be available the day of the fair (or the week of) to help out in any way!  It's a great way to get some of your volunteer hours.  Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.


I think that's about it for now.  Shoof!  That's a lot of information.  I'm trying to get all of the handouts on this blog post as well, but for the time being they are on Engrade and extra hard copies are on the "paper shelf" in my room.  I'm so looking forward to the Science Fair this year and all the wonderful work our students are doing.  It's going to be great!  Keep your eyes open for more updates/blog posts in the future.  Have a great weekend!


Monday January 14th
  • Scrip Orders Due T-Shirt/Sweatshirt Order forms coming out for Round Two Class pictures will be going home today. Please ask your child.
Tuesday January 15th
  • Subway Lunch orders due no later than 3:00 p.m. (later orders will not be accepted)
  • Please pay separate from your pizza order and only 1 week at a time.
  • Homework Club 3-4 pm
  • Parent Education Night - Homework (olders) and Math (youngers) 5:30 - 6:30 pm
Wednesday January 16th
  • Pizza orders and money due no later than 1:30 p.m. (late orders will not be accepted) Please pay separate from your subway order.
  • Early Release-1:00 PM
Friday January 18th
  • Pizza Lunch
  • Dress Down Friday

Future dates:
  • Jan. 21 - No School - MLK Day
  • Jan. 22 - 6:30 pm Board Meeting
  • Jan. 25 - T-shirt and Sweatshirt Orders are due - Round Two
  • Jan. 25 - All School MRA Dance
  • Feb. 13 - 8:20 am Booster Meeting in the Teacher Lounge!

Posted in Science Updates    Tagged with Science fair


Brandon - January 12th, 2013 at 1:19 PM
Did you change the date for the written proposal to be due? I asked my son if his was done, and he said it only had to be signed. I told him it was due 5 days ago, and he said it wasn't due until next week.
Mrs. Nilsen - January 27th, 2013 at 8:01 PM
We already talked about this, so I don't feel the need to answer here.

All proposals should be in their Logbooks by now. Thanks for checking!
Madison - February 13th, 2013 at 10:18 PM
I'm so excited about the science fair aren't you Mrs.nilsen ?
Mrs. Nilsen - February 14th, 2013 at 11:27 AM
Yes, Madison. I'm SO excited I can barely contain it!

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