I wake up on the big day in January, and there is excitement in the air. Yippee! It’s Science Fair day at Harrisburg Academy, and all the hard work leading to this day is simply bound to pay off for all participants, parents, and teachers alike. I always look forward to my students’ science projects, and their enthusiasm and dedication never fail to impress me.
Thirty-five years after our school started the Science Fair in 1981, it has become an integral part of our curriculum in Middle School. All students in 6th through 8th grade (and the occasional science-loving Upper School student) participate annually — and the steps from a mere idea to Grand-Champion status six months later may surprise you. Let me walk you through a student’s year as he or she prepares for the competition.
Conceptualization starts as early as August, which is still the beginning of the academic year. Once a participant finalizes his project idea, serious research commences, leading to a hypothesis. Broad research leads to deep knowledge of the project and history of similar projects. Having a better understanding of the project, the student now has about six weeks to execute on it; some students may need more time, depending on their project and the time it takes to collect all the necessary materials. After accomplishing this step, a student starts to analyze collected data and reach a conclusion. This step is followed by writing an abstract, or an abbreviated summary of the project.
Then comes the fun part! Students decorate their show boards and present them at Harrisburg Academy’s Science Fair. Winners in 7th and 8th grade and all high school participants advance to the Capital Area Science and Engineering Fair (CASEF), which is Central Pennsylvania’s regional program affiliated with the International Science and Engineering Fair. Here, our students compete against the best science fair projects of students across the entire region — we have even had two CASEF Grand Champions (one in the senior division, and one in the junior division) in the past six years!
I am so proud of our students’ hard work this year, and cannot wait to see how those who were 2017 Harrisburg Academy Science Fair winners perform at CASEF. Here’s to another great year. Good luck!
Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.