From the Kenosha News on 1-16-05

Don't Go Mad Over Science Projects

If you're a parent, child, teacher, or even a grandparent, you know that spring usually means school science fairs and science projects. If you're like me, after my first child did his second science project, we were all out of ideas!

Here are some resources that can jump-start a student's creativity and help them identify and execute a successful and interesting science project. While it is the student's responsibility to choose and conduct a good project, this column addresses adults – parents, teachers, grandparents – who can encourage and inspire their students.

The most important thing is to understand what your student's teacher is asking for. Are they to invent something or conduct an experiment and show the outcome? If motivation is a problem, and everyone (including you) thinks that science projects are dumb, watch the movie October Sky for a little inspiration.

The next hurdle is coming up with an idea. A good topic is interesting to the student, creative, measurable, and provable. Moreover, the project should ask a question that can be answered "Yes" or "No." Here's where electronic resources come in handy. Remember, however, that some of the topics on these sites may not meet the criteria for your student's school.

Teachers should also check out and

Once you've looked through these sites, your student should have more than enough ideas for his/her project. Many of the sites above also include information on how to conduct the project, write a report and present the results. If you're uncertain, have your student check with the teacher to make sure the project meets the requirements.

Finally, if you're still stuck or need extra help, the Children's librarians at Kenosha Public Library also provide assistance finding resources for science projects.

[Special thanks to all who helped me gather information for this column, including Franz Feldmeyer from McKinley Middle School, Corinne Mueller from the KUSD science resource center, Prisca Moore from Carthage College, and Roxane Bartelt, children's librarian at Kenosha Public Library.]


By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 1-16-05