How to Choose a 4th Grade Science Project

It usually happens in fourth grade: Your child comes home with a packet of material about the upcoming science fair. For many children, this is the first time they’ve been required to do a science project. They may be excited, or they may face the prospect with dread. Whichever, it’s up to the parent to make sure that the science project gets done.

Your child may have very specific ideas about what he or she would like to submit to the science fair. Before you let excitement rule, however, you need to find out the specific science project guidelines your child must follow. First of all, what type of science project is required? Unbelievably, there are five kinds:

Investigative projects – Most science fairs require students to do an experiment, and usually, this is an investigative, or investigatory science project.

Demonstration projects – This type of project is usually done in class as opposed to a science fair, with the student demonstrating a scientific principle to the class.

Research project – Basically, a research project is a report on a scientific topic.

Models – Models are a three dimensional representation of an object or a concept in science.

Collections – In this type of project a collection of objects is displayed to give an overview of a topic.

Also be aware of any restrictions the science fair or your school may have. Can you use/display food? What about animals? Will your child have to perform the experiment in front of judges?

Once you find out what kind of science project your fourth grader needs, it’s time to find out what project he or she wants to do. As you search, keep the following questions in mind:

1. Can I find the materials needed for the science experiment? Once my son needed powdered laundry starch for a project. Since nobody irons much anymore, it’s not easy to find!

2. Are the supplies expensive? One science project we considered called for SIX reusable hand warmers. They are almost $6 each, plus shipping. We found something else to do.

3. Can the science project supplies be located in time? If you have to order something, will it arrive in time for you to do the project thoroughly?

4. Is this project within my child’s ability level? Is it safe? Science projects are for your CHILD to do – with your assistance. Not the other way around.

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