Everything you need to know about the 2014 MRA Science Fair!

by Mrs. Nilsen on January 12th, 2014

Weekly Science News 1/6 - 1/10

This Post

Be warned: this is an extremely long post.  I do not intend for you to go through it all at once. Instead, I've gathered information together in one place to help answer your questions about this year's science fair.  Use this table of contents to help you navigate.
It’s that time of year again! As we come back to school to start our second term, the Senior grades begin to focus on independent research and preparation for the Annual MRA Science Fair. While a science fair is a staple of many middle and high school science programs, at Molalla River Academy we try to take the ordinary to the extraordinary. Our students don’t just test two products against each other using scientific terms and steps. Instead, they spend time learning how to research a topic, evaluate sources and weigh information, and put together a presentation of their new knowledge to share with classmates and the public. These skills are essential for today’s world where ideas, facts, and opinions are all mixed together on our computer screens, phones, and TVs. Creating a community of life-long learners who have the capability to make a difference in the world is about so much more than just regurgitating facts. MRA’s Annual Science Fair is about sharing and celebrating the process of real learning.

Mark your calendars now for the day before Spring Break! There will be more to come on helping and volunteering, and on the schedule for the morning of the 19th in the coming weeks.

Date Details

Mark your Calendars!
Who: MRA Seniors
What: 2014 MRA Science Fair
When: March 19th from 8:30 am – 11:30am
Where: MRA Gym

Types of Projects

Option 1: Experimental - This type of project is what you probably think of when you hear the words "Science Fair."  It begins with a question of a scientific nature and 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.  I allow a reasearch project because not all things science related lend themselves to an experiement that a 6-8th grader can run.  (A project on Zebra's for instance.)  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 approximate 5 minute presentation about their project (either option) to the class for a grade.  They will also be able to talk casually about their project to audience members as they walk through the science fair.  Presentation will be graded on the Common Core language standards.

Homework and Due Dates

Notes and sources are due to me every Friday in January.  The 8th graders are turning in 3 pages of notes per week, 7s two pages per week, and 6s one page per week.  This means that by Feb, each student should have plenty of notes and sources to start working on their paper, but you can always start sooner if you’d like. 

Here are the big due dates for the other parts of the project.

Final Paper due – Feb 21

Final Speech due – Mar 7th

Giving speeches for a grade in science classes Mar 12 – 18th   
 - Students will find out what day they are presenting on Friday, Mar 7th.

Exhibits are due the day they give their presentation in class. (between Mar 12 - 18th)

Science fair – March 19th  all morning

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:

: This is where the majority of our work in class has been so far.  This year, students are keeping their Logbooks in the back of their Science Notebooks so you don't need to buy one. 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 source
Research pages
Each part of your experiment, results, data, graphs, etc. (if doing the Experimental project)
Rubrics (4 total)

We will be working on the Science Fair in class every FRIDAY from here until the fair.  Logbooks and sources need to be brought to class every FRIDAY 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.  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.  NEW REQUIREMENT: This year, students must include an interative piece to their exhibit - something that their audience members can DO (touch, taste, smell, try, etc.) at the fair.

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 presentation to be graded in Science class, 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

Posted in 6th Grade ELA Updates, Science Updates    Tagged with Science fair


Cameron - January 15th, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Leave a Comment


follow on

2014 (70)
January (4)
February (18)
March (23)
April (10)
May (10)
June (5)
2013 (104)
January (8)
February (14)
March (4)
April (6)
May (16)
June (6)
July (1)
August (4)
September (10)
October (20)
November (6)
December (9)
2012 (69)
March (2)
April (9)
May (6)
June (13)
July (3)
August (4)
September (9)
October (12)
November (11)