F.A.Q. - Parents section
You have questions relating to the science fair project of your child? This FAQ page is for you!
Remember to come back here periodically, since other issues may be adressed during the year.
Your question is not there ? Please let me know by completing the ''Contact me'' form at the bottom of the page.
I look forward to watching your son enjoy this unique opportunity for scientific discovery!
What are the educational benefits of doing a science fair ?
The educational benefits are numerous. First, a science fair fits perfectly in the spirit of the Quebec Education program, since one of the goals of this program is to help students develop their ability to solve scientific and technological problems. Indeed, science fairs allow students to define a problem, gather information, take into account various constraints, understand how to control variables, sharpen their writing skills, etc.
In addition, while completing a science fair project, students develop skills which they won't necessarily learn elsewhere : cooperation work, creative thinking, time-management, public speaking, etc. Finnaly, risk-taking and the choices that this experience implies may have a positive impact on their attitude and confidence.
As a parent, what role should I play ?
Parents have two roles to play during this challenging experience. First, you can provide technical assistance to your son during his research and the preparation of the exhibit. However, resist temptation of doing the experiment, writing the report or designing the exhibit for him! In fact, if the judges think you helped too much, you can actually hurt your son's grade! Although, visually, a perfect display can be attractive, it is more important to let your son be actively involved in his project, wrestle with problems and get the pleasure from struggling trough it. In short, your support is key to a succesful science fair, but please do not allow your involvement to extend any further in order to promote learning and let the final project reflect your son's individual effort.
You will also have to support your child emotionally during the completion of his science fair. This consists, at first, to contain his outbursts of enthusiasm ; at the beginning, many students are unable to pick a topic because they have too many ideas and are paralysed by the choices. Nobody knows your son better than you do, so you can gently direct him to areas of interest and help him clarify the topic. However, the final decision should be your son's. Afterwards, some students will need to be guided and coaxed every step of the way, even if clear instructions are given regularly in class or during coaching meetings. However, most students understand exactly what has to be done and can do nearly all the work unsupervised. In that case, your role will be limited to encourage your son and monitor his project along the way! Finnaly, if things are going to go wrong—or at least, differently from what your son expected, remember that as long as your son is learning, the experience IS positive. So what if the results of the experiment aren't what your son expected? That's why you did the experiment in the first place—to find out what was true!
What are the three types of science fair projects?
For more information on each project type, click on the associated icon.
Among the three types of projects, which are most valued?
Experimentation or Design projects are more valued than Study projects. Indeed, by choosing these types of projects, students learn a lot more : they have to operationalize their research question, develop a rigorous experimental design, meet specifications, etc. However, there are still some merits to Study projects! But, sometimes, an idea for Study project can easily be taken a bit further to become an Experimentation or Design project. Have a look on how some exhibitors succeeded in doing so in the attached document (in French).
Can the project of my child be part of two types of projects?
No, because the objective is to complete only ONE project. Otherwise, the project will tend to digress and the main subject be adressed in less depth. *Nuance : there may be Study projects elements in an experimentation.
May I suggest a research topic to my child ?
No, at least not early in the process. If your son is having trouble finding an idea, yes, but if possible, suggest him more than one topic. In the same vein, do not forbid a subject to your child, even if you believe it is too hard for him.
Are there some ethics rules to follow ?
Plagiarism and copyright : Plagiarism is strictly forbidden and can lead to disqualification of a science fair project. To avoid plagiarism in the writing report or in the exhibit, students must use their own words to explain the notions they wish to demonstrate. Regardless of the project, your son must ALWAYS indicate his sources. The bibliography is therefore mandatory, and quotation marks must be used for all quotations. (Project templates include some examples of methods used to cite references.) The fabrication or falsification of data either is also considered as plagiarism. To help your son follow these ethics rules, you'll want to, for instance, discourage him dowloading copyrighted photographs or copying any text from the Internet.
Experimentation project requiring participation of human subjects : If your child has decided to present an Experimentation project requiring low-risk participation by human sujects, he must first come and see me to discuss the feasability of his project and so that I approve his experimental protocol. Then, the subjects will have to give their free and informed consent by completing the following form. Finnaly, if he want to include a photograph of the subjects in the presentation of his project, Science Fair rules require him to have a photo release form completed (see attached file).
When does my child need to have chosen his research topic ?
See this page (in French) for any question regarding the schedule.