Organizing a Science & Engineering Fair can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be – reach 14 weekly milestones to organize and implement a fun and skills-based Science & Engineering Fair!
- Meet with the Principal: Your very first step to organize a Science & Engineering Fair at your school: Meet with the Principal. Be sure s/he is on board and included in essential logistical decisions. S/he’ll help set you on a path to success.
- Set Dates & Confirm Building Use: Now that you have the principal on board with your school’s Science & Engineering Fair, it’s time to get others on board and set essential dates and reserve rooms. The sooner, the better.
- Build your Dream Team: Organizing a successful Science & Engineering Fair (SEF) takes a lot of volunteers. We recommend that you start forming a committee at least 4 months before your fair. Take a look at the committee member positions and roles that we’ve found ideal.
- Plan Essential Activities & Budget: As a Fair Organizer, there are a number of activities that you can plan to help inspire students to explore science and engineering projects. Each of these activities can take time to organize and implement, so plan well.
- Lay Down the Rules: It is essential to be very explicit about your Science & Engineering Fair rules. If you don’t want to be a stickler, then you might change your mind after reading this. There are good reasons for setting strict rules – health & safety, for one, and implications of being too lax, another.
- Create Effective Signups: If you want students to participate in your school’s Science & Engineering Fair and for adults to support you during your fair, then you will need signups. Gauge whether online or paper signups will be most effective at your school. Consider that not all families have access to or are receptive to the use of internet tools.
- Communication is Key: Clearly communicating your Science & Engineering Fair expectations will help to reduce family stress, motivate students to participate, and save you loads of time in the end. Getting all of your communication materials readily available to your school community early in the season will streamline your whole experience. Clear and consistent communication is your key to success!
- Plan Supporting Activities: Now that you have the essential activities planned, there are a number of optional Supporting Activities you can plan if you have the time and the people power.
- Create a Support Structure for Students: Keep in mind that not all children have access to support at home during their Science & Engineering Fair projects. If a student doesn’t have any adult support and they participate in fair, then it is easy for them to feel incapable when compared to other students who have access to necessary support and tools. It is essential to fill the gap in support that students receive during your Science & Engineering Fair.
- Reward Skills, not Plagiarism: At just about any Science Fair, you see projects that are absolutely perfect! They have perfect procedures, perfect results, and perfect project boards. Unfortunately, sometimes these projects are examples of perfect plagiarism. These students totally get robbed of the opportunity to use their creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Reward students based on their skills, not perfection.
- Recruit & Prep Effective Judges: A Science & Engineering Fair judge can either make or break a student’s passion for STEM. All too often, we’ve seen judges who are far too critical of students’ projects and don’t have a clear understanding of an appropriate level of work for the grade levels they are judging. Recruit professionals in your community who have connections to your school’s grade levels and provide them with clear instructions on how to assess student’s projects.
- Recruit Volunteers: Science Fairs can take a lot of resources to be successful. Not all schools have the people power to go all out on Science Fair. Here’s our recommendation.
- Check your Final Checklist: The final push to organizing your Science & Engineering Fair can be tough. Use a checklist 2 weeks before your fair to help you feel confident that you are ready to go. Here are some examples of items to be sure are in place.
- Fair Day Logistics Made Easy: The logistics of the day of your Science & Engineering Fair can be hard to get your head fully wrapped around. You and your team will need to direct a dozen or more volunteers, keep communication lines fully open to the school staff, and manage around a hundred students. There are a lot of moving pieces that need to be in sync for a smooth fair day. The secret sauce? Delegating responsibility and leadership to your committee members as much as possible.
Want these weekly goals, plus tips for parents emailed to you for FREE? Or want a free Student Science Fair Handbook for your school? Sign up for the IMPLEMENT Science Fair Fun program for 14 weeks of support and communication materials. We’ll help you lay the foundation for inclusive and skills-based Science & Engineering Fair that aligns with the NGSS Science & Engineering Practices.