Albert Einstein once said, "Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid." The first thing to know about science fair projects is that your child CAN do it on his own. It may seem impossible, and your infinite knowledge of Popsicle stick house building may be ideal, but it's your child's project, not yours. Teachers can smell a store-bought or Dad-made project a mile away. The benefits of your child creating his own project is that he will know the details of its creation and function and be better able to explain it at school. Here are a few pointers that just might help.
One of the hardest parts of a science fair project is creating the idea for the actual project. Google can be a quick fix, for there are many websites that provide hundreds of easy-to-do home experiments. This site, alone, could keep you occupied for hours: [http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/projectideas.shtml](http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/projectideas.shtml)
After you have selected your project, organize all of the materials needed. The worst thing that could happen is to be halfway through the experiment and realize you were missing a key part. Follow the exact instructions and make sure there is a step-by-step process your child can follow.
My Worst Science Experience Ever
As a sixth-grader, I was assigned to build a very specific model of a house that could withstand a mini earthquake. It had to be exactly 14 inches long and 12 inches high. It had to be three dimensional and be enclosed or covered. Needless to say, my father spent three hours into the night helping me re-construct a previously failed design. I tried straws, sticks, tin foil, tape, and everything else found at Staples. We were frustrated I wasn't learning anything, and, in the end, I walked away with a fair grade. I know I couldn't have done it without my father, but for experiments that are very specific, I recommend creating a plan WITH your child before starting out on your own.
My Best Science Experience Ever
In fifth grade, I had free reign over my science fair project. Oh, how times were simpler! I should've learned from my fifth-grade self with the earthquake house. I searched for "easy science experiments" on the Web, found one that required a balloon, a soda can, a battery, and my hair. Quickly, I got to work! The only thing my parents helped me with was taking photos of the experiment to put on a poster board. I rubbed the balloon on my head, held it near an empty soda can, and watched as the magnetic pull carried the soda can across the counter. I, then, tested other magnetic or metal objects to see if it would roll, as well. It was easy, interesting, and adequate for a child!
Whatever your son or daughter chooses, the key is not to worry. As long as you don't show up with a "cup of dirt," you will do just fine. Science fair projects will come and go, but the important part is learning along the way.