That’s right! We had us a Science Fair and it was great. Despite the hesitation and resistance expressed by the teachers about competition or, wait for it, setting expectations, the kids did great! In fact, it was probably the best event I have attended at our home school!

As you might have read in my last blog, I was pretty frustrated about the lack of preparation for this event. Turns out that attitude extended to the event and child after smiling child brought in their project and we quickly ran out of tables (did we not ask who was participating? seriously?).

All ages participated displaying a delightful range of projects.

Katie’s project was based on our hamster, Pat. She wanted to know if hamsters could learn. She decided to use a maze with a treat at the end and run PatHam through the maze four specific times per day, timing her performance. She did this over four days while making the maze slightly more complex each day.

At first, we thought Pat was a total failure. Her times were all over the place. Sometimes she would randomly find the treat, other times she would dally and get lost and finally find her reward. By the morning of day three, we figured it was going to be a fail.

And then we saw a shift!

On the evening of the third day, she finally seemed to get it! It appeared she knew where she was, she didn’t waste time and she ran to the end of the maze and scored her sunflower seed treats! Wahoo! We were so excited.

On day four, PatHam was a total stud. Even though Katie has made the maze more difficult, it was no barrier. She ran across that granite and hit the seeds in just seconds. All four times! Totally exciting. We found overall, she did better at 5pm and 9pm but kind of sucky at 9am and 7pm. Hamsters are nocturnal and that might have had something to do with it.

Putting the board together was fun and Katie said it reminded her of scrap booking (kind of did). I enjoyed asking her to think through the results and conclusions and getting her to think critically about what she had done. She also did a great job presenting her project to the audience (while holding Pat so everyone could see her research subject!).

There were so many great studies at the fair. Katie’s friends participated too (that’s Sophia – in the back – in the tie-dyed shirt and Jordan facing the camera):

  • Jordan used a test tube to pop corn and evaluate each type against a set of criteria.
  • Sophia tried making cheese with different ingredients (they all failed but made for great photos of the process).
  • Mira did an amazing experiment with different gasses and balloons (some still have not gone down and it’s been more than two weeks – something about compressed air and nitrogen).

With so much enthusiasm, I hope the teachers took notice. The kids were absolutely on it. And they could have easily absorbed some guidance on how to make their projects even better. In fact, kudos to the parents, because nearly every project met the basic criteria. It made the fair fun, interesting and led to lots of good discussion.