Science Fair Help Day
The Science Fair Help Day was designed for students and their parents to come to the library to find project ideas, to see how science is at work in their community, and to gather information to complete a science fair project successfully. This program provided guidance for first time science fair students, consolidated resources for experienced students, gave relief to parents and fun for children.
Displays by local industries, the hospital, and the agricultural research station were arranged for open house viewing and manned by their own employees who volunteered their time to answer questions about their field. Several students found mentors for their projects while asking questions at these display tables.
A teacher has provided an interesting display about flight, a simple experiment for students to try, and had homemade water rockets to show, as well as tips on what makes a good project. Models and instructions for paper airplanes were on a table nearby for experimenting and flying off the balcony.
A staff member brought her rock, crystal and gem collection for an interesting interactive display. Patrons could do their own excavating in a box of fossil filled shale with nut picks and she had an activity to name all the minerals and gems she was wearing that day.
An amateur astronomer made a homemade spectroscope and had an interesting display about stars and how astronomers determine the composition and distance of stars by their light.
Several students on the Young Adult Advisory board loaned their own science fair projects for display and spoke with parents and students about their experiences.
Two district science fair judges (who were parents of YA board members) volunteered their time to mingle and talk with the attendees about what is expected at a judging.
Two reference librarians were available to help with researching on the internet and in books; the science fair books were on special display in the reference department and the children‘s room. Photocopies were free to science fair students for the afternoon.
A Mad Scientist Lab was set up in the Children's Room for some hands on activities and to view science curiosities, such as making crystals and rubber eggs and looking through a microscope. There was a station to make your own slime to take home and another for bubble science. We also had a working volcano!
These activities were educational and fun and inspired students to begin working on their own projects. This activity also attracted younger siblings. Instructions were available so students could repeat the experiments at home. The children's librarian, dressed in a lab coat and goggles and pocket protector, became our Mad Scientist for the day and answered questions about the experiments.
Punch and cookies were served provided by the Friends of the Library and served by teens from the YA Advisory Board.
Our program took place throughout the library on a Sunday afternoon in January from 2-4 p.m.
How to Put Together a Science Fair Help Day
Setting a date: Contact your local schools to find out when the area science fair competition is in your county. Set a date several weeks, even 2 months, before the projects are due.
Rounding up participants: Fax or write the teachers in your schools telling them about the program you are planning and ask them if they would like to participate with a display or experiment or if they have suggestions for content. Give them a deadline date to contact you.
Write to local industries, hospitals, research companies, utility companies, agricultural research stations, county extension offices asking for participation. Give them a date that you will call them to answer questions. This is a great PR opportunity for industries to show what they do to the community. You may need to make suggestions, such as posters illustrating processes, handouts, equipment used in their businesses, etc. Make sure you call! Find out who is presenting and talk to them personally. Prepare to meet display requirements, such as access to electricity or the internet.
Publicity: Make posters, flyers or bookmarks for the schools. Our schools will take a master and make the copies. Advertise on the radio, in the newspaper. If you have a display case, fill it with borrowed lab equipment, science fair books, and an announcement for the upcoming program. Put an ad in your library newsletter and make small posters for the shelves near the science fair books. Send an article to be read on morning announcements at school, or have one of your teens write and read one at his school.
Details Detail Details!
Make a disk of Science Fair site bookmarks to use on internet access terminals. You can load the bookmarks right before the program.
Make banners or tent cards for each display table, to identify the participants and to help direct them when they come to set up.
Make name tags for participants. I added a medallion with blue and gold ribbons to the name tags for extra flair.
Offer books to display on each business’s table in the scientific field they represent.
Make a program flyer thanking the participants and noting all the displays, so nothing is overlooked by attendees.
Make a directional sign by the entrance if you have activities in various parts of the library.
Follow up with thank you notes to everyone who helped.
Ideas for Presenters:
Science Fair Judges
Hospital Lab Technician
Utilities (lab materials were borrowed from the water treatment plant)
Agricultural Research Station
Science Fair Students
YA Board Members
Helpful Web Sites:
(Ohio Scientific Education & Research Association; the director came to our help day with many handouts)
B.J. Pinchbeck’s Homework Helper
(many science sites to bookmark)
Multomah County Library Homework Center
(many science sites to bookmark)
The Ohio Academy of Science
(sent a nice booklet)
(project ideas and links)
Bizarre Stuff You Can Make in Your Kitchen
(experiments for the Mad Scientist Lab)
My Inspiration came from an article in VOYA:
Science Fair Help Day, Smith, Tammy. VOYA, February 1998, Vol. 20 No. 6, p 373
©2012, 2001 RoseMary Honnold.