What I Learned from My Child’s STEM Fair Project
“Mom, I want to do a project for the STEM Fair at school!” My 9-year-old daughter’s face lit up as she excitedly talked about her first opportunity to participate in her school’s science fair. As a million Facebook rants about science fair projects from other frazzled, busy parents filtered through my memory, I put on my best fake smile and replied, “OK, honey, let me read over the information sheet and see what we can do.” Ugh!
Don’t get me wrong, I love that my daughter’s favorite subject this year is science. And I’m grateful she takes chances rather than me gently nudging her to try new things. But, we’re so busy – so, SO busy. I wasn’t sure how she (ahem – we) we were going to squeeze this in. After a firm discussion about project ownership and a huge disagreement about participating in the afterschool program to support this (I wanted her to go – she didn’t), we came to an agreement and she entered.
I’m so glad we did. I learned a lot about Olivia, robots, and STEM fairs.
5 Reasons Parents Should Encourage Kids to Participate in Science Fairs
It encourages grit, perseverance and critical thinking. Our recent e-family news article defines grit as a perseverance or passion for long-term-goals. In the first few days, my daughter decided that she wanted to build a robot that could write or draw on its own. During the month leading up to the STEM fair, she identified options, narrowed down her choice, built, tested and documented her work. It was pretty amazing to see her drive and focus on this challenge that was arguably outside both of our comfort zones.
It’ll restore your faith in the internet. As a parent, I have a love/hate relationship with the internet. When it comes to science fair resources, however, I’m in the definitive “love” category. There are science fair websites where all you have to do is type in “a robot that draws” and it returns a slew of different projects for various levels and ages. Win!
Science fairs are way cooler than when I was in school. I can’t recall what grade – 5th or 6th maybe – when my class had a mandatory science fair. A friend and I did a bubble project. It was fun for us but the projects at my daughter’s STEM fair were phenomenal. One kid coded a bunch of classic Atari characters into his own video game. Can you say AWESOME?!
Kids of all ages and genders can get excited about science and engineering. There was a strong stigma about kids who loved science when I was growing up. But times have surely changed for the better. It was awesome to see girls, boys, 8 year olds, and even my 4-year-old son walking around and experimenting with all the science, math, technology and engineering projects.
Robots are super fun and so easy to build. I was secretly thrilled when my daughter chose a robotic project. Going into it, I knew next to nothing about building a robot. I learned a lot and look how cool they are:
I’m happy it was such a fun experience for her – and me!