by Heidi Nyquist, homeschooler
Often times, as I browse Facebook and the internet, I see homeschool events and activities that my kids or I might be interested in but for one reason or another never actually sign up for. As a self-proclaimed homebody, it’s often easier to do nothing and just stay home. However, after our family moved from Northern MN to Minneapolis last December, I decided to change that. I decided that we would get more involved and take advantage of being part of the large Twin Cities homeschooling community. I saw a Facebook post about the MHA science fair which gave me an opportunity to take action. I asked my two oldest children (ages 6 and 7) if it was something they would want to do. Because my kids are joiners there was a resounding “YES!” followed by a “What’s a science fair?”
After I explained what it was and answered their endless questions, they were even more excited. We quickly got to work brainstorming ideas. Our oldest decided immediately on slime(oobleck) and our other daughter, inspired by watching me shovel and salt our sidewalks, decided to investigate how ice melts with or without salt. With our topics decided, we jumped into learning about the scientific method; making guesses about what would happen, planning and executing the experiments and then recording what we found. Something I noticed was that what started as a science project for “school” quickly became a whole family activity. We had fun working together, helping each other and becoming scientists. Even the display and presentation, which seemed like a big task at first, became fun when we worked together and took our time.
On the day of the 2018 MHA Science Fair, the kids were excited. Once set up at the community center, they proudly displayed their projects while answering questions from fellow participants, fair attendees and judges*. The event was well-organized, and buzzing with positive energy and excitement. It was great seeing homeschooled kids of all ages participating and showing off their hard work. The caliber of work the students did and the variety of topics was astounding. Another thing I took note of was what a family affair it was. Our kids had invited their grandparents to come see their hard work. I noticed many other grandparents, extended families, and friends in attendance as well. As homeschooling can sometimes be isolating, it was nice to feel supported and to be part of a larger community at a positive event. As soon as it was over, the kids started talking about what their next years’ projects would be.
This year- all three kids (ages 5, 7 and 8) are signed up for the 2019 Science Fair. They have been discussing ideas and are excited to participate. If you are thinking of signing up, I highly recommend it.
Here are some of my helpful hints to help inspire you:
-Don’t forget to give your kids the option of experiment OR research. Research can be a great option for some kids. My youngest will be doing research this year while my oldest two, again, conduct experiments.
-Start planning early. Start gathering supplies, making a plan, checking out library books, etc. If you are a procrastinator like me, you’ll thank yourself as the date of the science fair creeps up.
-Keep it simple- there are TONS of great science fair ideas online for kids of all ages. Have the kids pick something they are interested in and use the resources/ideas available to you.
-Involve the whole family- We worked on experiments and display boards as a family. It made the whole process seem more fun and less like an assignment. Also, have the kids invite family and friends to the fair so they can show off their hard work.
-Sign up early- Prices go up on Jan 1st so sign up now. Even if your young scientist is still undecided, you can sign up and take advantage of the savings while you figure it out.
Feb 2nd, 2019
New Brighton Community Center
*Judging is available, but optional for grades 4-12 for experimental and research projects. Grades K-3 and older kids who do not wish to be judged will have the opportunity to talk to the judges about their projects and will each receive a participation ribbon.