In July 2012 I had a marquee and was asked to provide some family science activities.
I had been at the fair in 2011 alongside some fabulous year 6 pupils from a local school so had an idea of what to expect. I decided to make the main activity a competition called “float your boat” which has proved popular at family fairs I have done previously. I decided to have two leader boards, one for kids and one for grown ups.
This was a great idea and meant almost everyone who came into the marquee had a go from teeny tots to grandparents. Everyone got the same amount of plasticine to make a boat shape which they tested in the paddling pool, then they brought it to the competition tank where we counted how many marbles it could hold before sinking. Some people spent a very long time trying to get to the top of the leader board!
I had other activities where people could challenge their senses, use static electricity to go fishing and build things with K’NEX. The event was the busiest yet with about 3500 visitors to the event overall. A big thank you goes out to Lorraine from Durham University, with her help we managed to keep on top of demand. Other attractions during the event were live science shows from Dr Bunhead, Dr Kilcoyne and Fran Scott, robot wars, science in your shopping basket and astronomy.
I have recently supported two primary schools in County Durham to put on a science fair in their school. I worked with the year 6 pupils over four weeks to help them take charge and put on a great show for their peers. In the first couple of sessions, I took lots of short, fun activities for the pupils to try. They critiqued them, changed some, chose some, added new ideas and rejected some until they had their own repertoire of activities for their fair.
In each school, we ran a half day science fair for key stage (KS)1 and a half day for KS2. A small group of 2-3 year 6 pupils were in charge of each activity and demonstrated it to their peers in the rest of the school. We opened each fair with fizzy drink and mentos fountain which got everybody excited and then pupils went round the different activity stations and were helped to try the activities themselves by the year 6s. In one of the schools the year 6s trained the year 5s to demonstrate the activities at the KS1 fair. We also had other teachers, parents and governors helping out during the day.
Everyone who took part had a great time. The kids demonstrating the activities really got to understand the science behind their activities so they could explain it to their friends. Parents were also invited after school to see what had been going on so the project was also a great way of getting the wider school community involved.
If you are interested in running a similar project at your school, please go to the Primary school workshops page for more information or contact Dr Research.