The effects of science fairs on students' knowledge of scientific inquiry and interest in science
Jaworski, Beverly Ann.
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The purpose of this capstone project was to determine if science fairs increase students' knowledge of scientific inquiry and build positive attitudes towards the study of science. This topic was chosen because students in the sixth through eighth grade participate in a school-sponsored science fair each year. Therefore the effectiveness of using science fairs as a method of teaching scientific inquiry and promoting interest in science was tested. Students were given a pre-test on scientific inquiry before the science fair and a post-test on scientific inquiry after the science fair. Then these test scores were compared. Students were also given surveys to complete before and after their participation in the science fair to determine if their attitudes changed towards the study of science. Samples of students from each grade were also interviewed before and after the science fair. Other sources of data were questionnaires completed by teachers at the school. These data were collected in a six-month time span. This capstone project determined that the science fair increased knowledge of scientific inquiry in students, but not for all students. Students' attitudes play a role in what they find relevant and want to learn. The science fair was successful in promoting more positive attitudes towards the study of science for students who visited the fair. Participants who showed a more positive attitude towards the study of science were only students who previously expressed interest in science before their participation in the science fair.