2018 AHE Science & Technology Fair
Wednesday 11 April, 10 am – 1 pm
Fickling Centre, Three Kings/Mt Roskill
Not sure how to go about doing a Science Fair Project? Don’t miss out on this fun learning activity for your children!
Bring your children along to the SCIENCE FAIR WORKSHOP – held early Term 1 2018. Click here for all the details.
The AHE Science & Technology Fair has been one of the key annual events on the AHE calendar for over 10 years, usually held at the end of Term 1.
What is a Science and Technology Fair?
Thousands of students around New Zealand enter Science Fairs and find it a great way to learn how to do science and to communicate and present it others. Students bring along pre-prepared Science and Technology projects for display and discussion with others. It is also an opportunity to recognise students who are good at science. Home-educators needn’t miss out!
How does the AHE Science and Technology Fair work?
Since 2006 AHE has been running a Science and Technology Fair for home-schooled children. We try and run our fair like the regional fairs for schools. However, being home-schoolers, we encourage children of all ages – little ones to teenagers – to enter.
Children enter a project of their choosing, usually using a display board (found at Stationery Stores). They submit their project and talk with judges about their work. Judges read their board. The next day all the projects are on display for the community to see and experience. Winners are announced and all entrants receive a Participation Certificate, and prizes are given out.
How long does it take to do a Science Fair project?
Usually students spend Term 1 working on their project, setting up experiments and researching, ready to present results and their findings for the Fair which is held at the end of Term 1. Allow a few months, especially if you are doing an experimental type project.
What kind of projects can students enter?
Being home-schoolers there is flexibility to run with a variety of ideas that reflect children’s interest and ideas. Young children enjoy a chance to ‘mess around’ with science – grow something, mix something (explode something!), make something, observe something – take a few photos, write a few words and bring it along to the Science Fair. Or if you’re keen on whales, or spiders, or jet-planes… do a research project and show us. As children get older we encourage them to follow carefully through the ‘Scientific Method’, or dig deeper into some aspect of science or technology. Here are a few ideas…
Take up the challenge: choose an area of interest, have a question, make a hypothesis, create an experiment and test, test, test until you have an answer! (Scroll down for more detailed information).
For example – What Conditions Cause Iron To Rust?
Do experiments with iron objects under different conditions and measure the amount of rust on each object.
Invent something new that solves a problem.
For example – Hamish Andrews (15 at the time) did a project showing a product designed to allow a person, including elderly people, to turn the shower water flow on and off from the shower head, which is useful when the tap is hard to turn or out of easy reach. He did this by designing a very simple on-off valve that is operated with a single push.
Observe something in nature and analyse it. Write about your observations and research.
For example – the migration of birds.
You might do a display with pictures of different species of birds and maps of the world with migration pathways and you might go to Miranda and photograph some of the birds and write about your experiences. That is not an experiment – it is a project on a science topic.
At the AHE Fair there’s also the flexibility to do a Science Photographic display, or a Science History Research project… or really anything scientific that interests your child.
Can I talk to anyone to ask questions or get advice?
Yes! Our friendly Science Fair organisers, Stuart and Shalini Dreadon, are more than happy to field questions and queries, so don’t hesitate to contact them: firstname.lastname@example.org
Can home-schoolers enter regional competitions?
Yes! Experimental projects or technology projects by students in Years 7-13 may be selected to represent AHE at the NIWA Auckland City Science & Technology Fair. This event celebrates excellence in scientific and technological investigation carried out by students in Auckland. It’s usually held in late August/early September. We’re proud of the many prize winners who’ve represented AHE at the NIWA Science & Technology Fair… there are a lot of schools out there and competition is tough!
How do I choose a topic?
That’s a great question, and we have good number of tips for you! Read on…
- Science is all around us – think about your environment. What question would you like answered? Something to do with cooking, building, growing things, cleaning…?
- Look up ideas in books at the local library or research on the internet.
- Your project does not have to be completely original. It does not have to be an idea that no-one else has ever had. That is most unlikely! If YOU have done it – then that’s new – because you have done it! It is good if you can find some aspect that is new or some different way of looking at something.
- It does have to be interesting and innovative… no point in finding out how many seeds avocados have.
- You need to choose a project that is do-able by you. Within the time frame – you have a few months. So a project about the lifecycle of oak trees involving growing trees from acorns is probably not sensible! Something about germinating acorns might be. Do a pilot study first to see if your idea is even possible.
- Choose something you know a little bit about but would like to know more.
- Choose something you are interested in! You will always do better with a subject you like.
- Your living situation needs to be taken into account – there’s no point in doing a project on milking cows if you live in the centre of town. It has to be not too expensive. Your parents may have something to say about that!
- Keep it simple. At least to begin with. Maybe you can guess at the answer – that’s OK. It’s how well you do the science that matters, not how exciting it was. You can get results with a simple old ruler or with fancy hi-tech gadgets and machinery. It’s not how you get the numbers but what you do with them – how you display them and whether you know what they mean!
- Your idea has to be reasonable. Playing music to plants is always a favourite – and yet its very hard to do and rarely done properly.
- It has to be safe! You cannot do an experiment on human health – you can’t feed your brothers and sisters different kinds of toadstools to see if they are poisonous! It mustn’t cause pain and injury to animals (or humans) so you cannot chop legs off your pet spider to see if they can still spin a web with 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 leg!
- If there are projects in the Fair that are on the same topic – that doesn’t matter – you will each do it as individual and it will be very different! If you get different results – that will be interesting too – you can talk about why that happened!
For example: say two people decide to do an experiment on seeds and water… it sounds nice and simple! The chances are you will not use the same kind of seeds or grow them in the same environment. You may have put yours in the hot water cupboard and the other person put theirs on the window ledge… maybe you put water in every day and the other person only watered on the first day. You will get different results and that makes it interesting!
How do I do an Experimental Project?
This is a great type of project to do!
You will need to include:
Hypothesis or Aim
Hypothesis: the idea that you are going to prove or disprove. eg. Super Bright Cleaner is the best cleaner.
Aim: the aim of your project. eg. ‘To find which cleaner works best’ or ‘To find if there is a cleaner that is better than “Super Bright”‘.
This could be your title – or you might choose a catchy title to attract people’s attention.
Explain why you were interested in this experiment – this adds interest for the reader.
Materials and Methods (or What I used and What I did)
In this section you are describing EXACTLY what you did and how you did it. So exact that someone could follow your instructions and do exactly what you did.
Include diagrams if relevant. Take lots of notes – in a special exercise book or folder.
In this section you are describing what results you got – the best way of displaying your results is by using a table or a graph of some sort. But graphs and tables need proper detailed headings and labels so we know exactly what the numbers mean.
In the Results section you just state results you do not make comments on them. That comes next.
This is where you say what your results actually mean.
You also decide here whether your hypothesis was proven or not. Go back to what you were trying to prove? Finding out that your hypothesis was wrong is a great result and just as important as finding out that your hypothesis was correct.
It is quite good to repeat your experiment to make sure that you get the same results again – this is another reason for doing SHORT experiments!
There is no such thing as a conclusion – “It didn’t work” – if you designed the experiment properly and carried it out well you will have found out something.
You should always include a list of the resources you used in your project.
Websites, people you consulted, books you read… encyclopaedia articles, whatever.
No-one ever does anything without some resources and you should acknowledge this. You will have got ideas for the method, or help in interpreting your results or compared your results with what other people have done.