Recently, the gym in our Manhattan campus resembled one of Thomas Edison's laboratories. This transformation occurred as our Middle School students displayed their projects as part of our science fair. The event, which was organized by M4 science teachers Andrea Kmiotek and Esme Turla, highlighted student's creativity and focus on problem solving.
Those who attended saw a wide variety of exhibits that looked at areas such as robotics, virtual reality, human psychology, renewable energy, and ways to measure pollution. In total there were 43 projects that were assembled by teams of two-to-four students.
"Meandering through the science fair was an opportunity to connect with students at the culmination of this stage of their scientific quest. I love listening to our students unpack their initial assumptions about their area of inquiry, lay out their path for exploring their question, and then walking us through the process of their investigation and experimentation," said Middle School Principal Chad Fairey. "As Einstein famously remarked, 'Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.' It was wonderful to join our students in reflecting on how they think and how their projects have led them to think differently."
Working on the projects gave students an opportunity to apply the scientific method. This is a multiple-step process where researchers start by asking a question and do background research. Then they develop a hypothesis and predict what is going to happen.
Over the course of several days students tested to see if their prediction actually happened. Once the experiments finished they analyzed the data to reach a conclusion and evaluated why their prediction did or did not occur. Lastly, as part of their work teams also came up with ways their findings could be applied to problems outside the classroom.
In total, students worked on the projects for three-to-four weeks leading up to the event.
"The Science Fair project gives students the opportunity to apply science skills they have been learning and practicing since JA to solve a problem or answer a question of their choice. Project management, a highly valued job skill, is practiced by all as they carry out this inquiry driven project under tight time constraints and busy personal schedules," stated Middle School Science Teacher Andrea Kmiotek. "The most important take-away, though, is they learn that science (and everything) doesn't always work out as planned. Students reflect on their experimental designs, identify problems with data reliability, learn from their experiences and try again."
The importance of science-based education is growing. This is highlighted by research from the U.S. Department of Labor showing how careers in science and engineering will outpace growth in other occupations in the coming years. To prepare our students to navigate this changing environment we are committed to increasing our investments in areas connected to science education, including the creation of a new makerspace in the fall of 2017.
For a complete list of student projects at the science fair please visit: https://sites.google.com/unis.org/m4scifair17/home...