Along with the MANY challenges that teaching in 2020-2021 brought, science teachers around the world had to figure out how to make our beloved (by some) science fair projects work. I am one of those science teachers that LOVES the science fair process and sees the tremendous value that these independent research projects bring to our students. So there was no way I was canceling this "super bowl" of science exploration.
I started the 2020 school year by completely revamping and reformatting our science fair process and making it fully accessible through TEAM's Class Notebook. Following tradition, initially, we were requiring ALL advanced students at our middle school to complete a science fair project, but due to many extreme setbacks, we made it optional within a few weeks. At the end of this 3 month-long process, there were 8 students in our school that decided to keep up and complete their projects, and I was blown away by the quality of their work! The work these kids did, not even considering the additional challenges they faced, was just phenomenal! I was so proud and had no choice but to figure it out and design a new way for these students to showcase their presentations for virtual judging at a virtual fair. I had never heard of or attempted a completely virtual approach to the science fair before, but this is what I developed.
I created a digital science fair backboard that the students could customize using a PowerPoint/Google slides presentation. Students were able to copy and paste their work, photos, and data tables in their digital presentations and share their work with the judges. I spent time linking the backboard slide to the additional slides so the presentations could be shared as a PDF and function like miniature websites viewers could navigate through. Additionally, I asked students to create a video presentation to introduce the judges to their work. Below is the tutorial video I made for students to use and learn how to complete each step of the digital science fair.
We had an extremely successful competition at our regional science fair with many competitors throughout my county using my presentation method moving onto the state science fair. I formatted my digital board and video requirements to match the requirements that the state science fair was requesting so very little reworking had to be done between competitions. I hope that you will also find this format useful and allow your students to continue to experiment and explore their curiosities!