NCMSA12: Virtual Science Fair

Ravenscroft Middle School

Melissa Spainhour, 6th Science and Math, Math Dept. Chair
Janet Vande Berg, 6th Science, Dept. Chair
Kathleen Christopher, ITF

Science Fair with a Twist
Students are not doing it at home…doing it at school with teacher and e-mentor help
Connects to scientists around the world
Traditional Science Fair the teacher becomes the lead…took the teacher out of the equation
Each group gets an e-mentor who helps them develop the project
National Assoc. of Independent Schools or Google Science Fair…or do it independently

Why Do a Virtual Science Fair?
Connect kids with scientific method
Authentic vs. Inauthentic learning…virtual help from others makes it more student completed…all done in classroom, e-mentors can’t do project FOR them like a parent could
Parents don’t see it until project is completed.

Communication – forces kids to talk to one another…groups of 2 to 3 students…develop group procedures, group work early and often, “this is a kind place”…toughest place is in picking a topic…pick groups for kids, and keep it so they are working with those they will get along with fairly well…

Virtual Science Fair takes a couple days a week over the course of 9 weeks…don’t want one kid taking over so it’s not “the smart kid with a couple of kids he drags along”

Everything outlined in rubrics…including behavior…how do you talk to each other? how do you talk to an e-mentor?

Research piece…6th grade skills are pretty basic…ExpertSpace, teaches paraphrasing, and summarizing…spent 4 or 5 days on research…e-mentors just coming on board so teacher plays a larger role…experiment about baking cookies, more talk about baking soda, less about just baking…teacher helps guide this part a lot…also students not as strong of a writer as you’d hope…

Believe this is best suited for 8th graders (those that win the competition from NAIS and GSF tend to be older students)
Writing for Science…GET ELA TEACHER TO HELP…but e-mentors also helped, because they have experience in the field…have e-mentor break it down for the students in 6th grade terms to help kids learn to paraphrase

Paired with a ELA component would make this even better…PERHAPS PAIR UP WITH ANOTHER ELA TEACHER IN THE COUNTY?

Critical Thinking…what is the conductivity of each metal? They connect it to a battery which puts the same voltage through all…talk them through it and let them think…some just won’t get it

Reflection…what have they done? What did e-mentor suggest? Have to evaluate each piece based on rubric…have to look at videos? THERE ARE VIDEOS?? MORE TO COME…

Revisions…spend lots of time to get them to make it “perfect”…working for self, group member, teacher, and e-mentor…so many folks looking at it helps keep them working.  e-Mentor suggestions REALLY have an impact on the kids. When they ask a question, the e-Mentor really wants them to come up with a response, so the kids have to do it, and it’s non-evaluative.

Gather People for Support
Tech People

e-Mentors – scientist from local community and around the world…1 per group, required to check in on a weekly basis…teacher sends weekly email telling what has been completed and what to check for…e-Mentor responds…have some replacement e-Mentors…sometimes you have to…but not often…
Take Risks…email just about anyone in scientific community…work through circle of friends, local organizatons, Bayer, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, for us UNC/NCSU/DUKE MARINE LABS…they got 36 e-Mentors this year, grad students…contact ECU science dept. or UNCW…careful about student identities, no last names etc for safety reasons and for parent assurance

ORGANIZE! First year it was thrown on them in Oct, it started in Nov “We don’t do science fair…thanks” but they did anyway…with a small group of kids that were technology students…two years done in 6th grade now

Google Docs did not work as well as expected…this year implemented Team Folders…kept at school, students not allowed to take them…How to create a background, how to create a procedure, etc

NAIS runs this through Google Sites…GOOGLE PROBABLY DOES TOO…all communication done on Google Sites…no email back and forth…e-mentors log into Google Sites…kids have grouped emails VSF1, or VSF2 (CAN TALK TO GOOGLE APPS ADMIN ABOUT SETTING UP THESE NEW SHARED EMAILS)

Documents were created on Word, saved as PDF and posted…this year the did group work on individual Google Docs, shared with group members, still posted as Group Team…There are some schools that do first and last names…that wouldn’t fly  for Ravenscroft

Videotaping is not a requirement for NAIS, but they thought it would be good…used Flip Cams to begin with…used iPads this past year…

Google Site: Ravenscroft VSF 2012…Kathleen set up all of the Google Site NEED A GOOD ITF TO HELP OUT WITH THIS…separate PAGE for each team within SITE
e-Mentor comments on the page…teacher isn’t doing the “nit-picky” work the e-Mentor as a professional scientist is doing this…

Folder Page for Documentation…could probably also be done on wikispaces or pbworks…
Saving to PDF is a good skill for kids, and then have them openable on ANY operating system, etc
When revising they just save as a new PDF

Table set up for the videos…Intro, Background, Experiment, Conclusion…possibly scale this back in the future…possibly use advisory time to teach the tech skill of video recording and editing prior to starting this for the class…Ravenscroft has a Mac Lab with 9 computers for Video Editing…AND HERE’S AN ISSUE, MOST SCHOOLS HAVE A MAC LAB WITH ZERO MACS…Could take lots of pictures if you can’t do the video component…If only one video, have them record the experiment

Videos they have their group Letter Sign to help identify each group…GROUP X was a winning group…DEFINITELY WANT TO WATCH THIS IF I CAN GET ACCESS TO THEIR SITE

How long does it take?
Pick Topic and Introductions – 3 days (before Thanksgiving)…purely interest based topics…NOT SURE HOW THIS WILL CONNECT TO THE MOVEMENT OF SCIENCE SKILLS ACROSS THE ESSENTIAL STANDARDS…
Intro Video – 2 days (not required)
Research and Variables – 3 days…this was after doing ExpertSpace to learn paraphrasing, plagerism, etc…done the 2 days prior to researching science fair topic (so 1 week total)
Background Video – 2 days
Hypothesis, Materials and Procedure – 3 days (jumping back and forth the whole time with curricular topics…pick an easy curricular topic that could have good mini-units for 3 or 4 days at a time…don’t have the stamina for doing this every day for a long time)
Experiment and Experiment Video – 4 days…did it the 4 days after christmas break, all materials had to be in BEFORE christmas break…
Data Analysis and Graphing – 3 days
Conclusions – 3 days
Conclusion Video – 2 days
Final Report – 1 day…cutting and pasting parts into a final page with Sci Method headings

e-Mentor time requirement…15 to 20 minutes a week…teacher sends email reminder to all e-Mentors just to remind them…

Picking Topics
Hosting Videos…did them as mp4s and they were slow to load…WONDER ABOUT HOSTING ON YOUTUBE?
e-Mentors…used faculty members to supplement e-Mentors if emergencies came up…not all are as into it



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: