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Old 10-04-2012, 10:27 AM   #1
tmarquez
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Science Project is a disaster!

So DD is in 4th grade and they are required to do a science fair project. We took a tour at Living with the Land at Epcot and she got plans to do a kind of aquaponic thing. She wanted to do that for her project.

Unfortunately the plants aren't doing well at all. Not the ones growing in the "fish water" and not the ones growing in regular soil. There's nothing in the paperwork she brought home saying what to do in the event of this type of outcome. And I never did a science fair as a kid so I don't know.

Is she to carry on and somehow dispaly the results? Is she allowed to change projects midstream? I plan on asking her teacher when she goes back to school (they are on a 3 week break right now) but I thought maybe one of you guys might know or have a suggestion for her. Thanks!
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:38 AM   #2
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So DD is in 4th grade and they are required to do a science fair project. We took a tour at Living with the Land at Epcot and she got plans to do a kind of aquaponic thing. She wanted to do that for her project.

Unfortunately the plants aren't doing well at all. Not the ones growing in the "fish water" and not the ones growing in regular soil. There's nothing in the paperwork she brought home saying what to do in the event of this type of outcome. And I never did a science fair as a kid so I don't know.

Is she to carry on and somehow dispaly the results? Is she allowed to change projects midstream? I plan on asking her teacher when she goes back to school (they are on a 3 week break right now) but I thought maybe one of you guys might know or have a suggestion for her. Thanks!
I would try to email the teacher. Did she have it approved before she started? and if so do you have to stick with it? If Not find another one. there is a good one about Salt and how it effects the boiling point of water. And here all the Disers have done quite a few good ones, do a search.

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Old 10-04-2012, 10:40 AM   #3
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I would continue on. Not every project can be a success. If it fails and she knows why then write it up. I had a project in high school that was a complete failure. But I knew why it failed and was able to show that and what should have been done to make it succeed and I passed.
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:42 AM   #4
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I would display what she did, but also list the problems that she had with it. Any science project has variables that need to be added in to see the full result. A perfect project with little in the way of problems really don't teach much. The one with problems and a huge list of what can be done to correct it next time and lists other variables are more interesting, well thought out, and show that the child did some real problem solving to worjk in the project
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:09 AM   #5
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keep going!
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:18 AM   #6
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The purpose of the Science Fair is to learn the scientific process. As long as she shows that she tried to follow the plan, her grade should not suffer because the results are inconclusive.

Scientists fail a lot before they succeed. It is all part of the process. She should be taking pictures of all the steps.
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:24 AM   #7
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When is the fair? Could you start over with a different plant? Philodendrons grow easily and you may be able to see some results/changes if you have a few weeks left.

I agree, though, that regardless of what you do, she should write up (using the scientific method) the process she did when it failed. Failure is a huge part of the scientific process -- success is often only the result of many failures (even hundreds or thousands of failures).
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Old 10-04-2012, 02:30 PM   #8
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That's how science works. Have her note her discoveries. It's all part of research.
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:57 PM   #9
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Minority here - 4th graders are into who brought in the "best" one of anything. They are not adults, and therefore are not into scientific research & how it works. They are more into how your project looks, and how good it is. They ARE kids.

My suggestion of possibly switching the project was to avoid ridicule of any kind.

Good luck to your daughter, no matter what decision you make. She deserves a break. Maybe her plants will start to bloom due to this thread!
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Old 10-04-2012, 07:09 PM   #10
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My DD will be starting her science fair project soon. The teacher said they should have duplicates of everything.

My DD is also doing something with plants. I can't remember exactly what it involves but I'll be finding out soon when I have to go buy the stuff with her. LOL

I agree with most everyone else that she should keep going with it. And try to do some research into why the plants might be dying. That would look really good even if all the plants don't make it.
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Old 10-04-2012, 09:50 PM   #11
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After a trip to Disney, my DD decided to do a hydroponics science project as well.
Hers did not turn out very well either, but her plants did grow a little. I can't remember all the details, but she did as pp mentioned and wrote up her results and included information about why the plants didn't grow. She actually wone first place in her school for her division and went to the regional science fair
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Old 10-05-2012, 12:30 AM   #12
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I spent 25 years in scientific research. ALL results are valuable; "failures" are just information you use to better-design the next experiment! If your child can come up with some explanations as to why the plants didn't grow, that's as good as having a positive outcome. Since neither plant flourished, the problem isn't in the liquid vs. soil medium; there's something else that is adversely effecting the plants' growth. (If it was the growth medium, one would grow and the other wouldn't grow as well). She should come up with a list of variables that would effect the growth of lettuce (temperature, moisture, sunlight exposure, pestilence, etc) and then see if something's been happening with one of these that would effect lettuce growth (is it too hot for the plants to be in their ultimate growth range? Is she watering them too much, or is there something in your water that might be detrimental to the plant?). She can still make a nice display with a chart listing possibilities, growth conditions, etc. Good luck! (I always hated when DD had to do a science project!)
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Old 10-05-2012, 02:30 AM   #13
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I agree with the others, keep going! Behind any good idea/project/experiment there is a LOOOONG line of failures. As a matter of fact I think that you can gain a lot of knowledge from a failed project. Have her take detailed notes and then come up with some working ideas on what went wrong and how the experiment could be improved upon in the future. Out of curiosity are the plants wilting, stunting, or kind of rotting?
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Old 10-05-2012, 03:40 AM   #14
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3 weeks is enough time to get another plant to start growing. If she's already worked on this for 3 weeks, start with a new plant on the opposite side of the house, with different light conditions. Then she can do a comparison to how well plants grew on the south side vs the north side (or however your house may be set up).
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:27 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leebee View Post
I spent 25 years in scientific research. ALL results are valuable; "failures" are just information you use to better-design the next experiment! If your child can come up with some explanations as to why the plants didn't grow, that's as good as having a positive outcome. Since neither plant flourished, the problem isn't in the liquid vs. soil medium; there's something else that is adversely effecting the plants' growth. (If it was the growth medium, one would grow and the other wouldn't grow as well). She should come up with a list of variables that would effect the growth of lettuce (temperature, moisture, sunlight exposure, pestilence, etc) and then see if something's been happening with one of these that would effect lettuce growth (is it too hot for the plants to be in their ultimate growth range? Is she watering them too much, or is there something in your water that might be detrimental to the plant?). She can still make a nice display with a chart listing possibilities, growth conditions, etc. Good luck! (I always hated when DD had to do a science project!)
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Science isn't about getting perfect results, its about understanding the results you do get. I know its 4th grade, and they are kids but its important for them to learn that
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