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Old 10-04-2012, 09:27 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, 09:38 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, 09:40 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, 09:42 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, 10:09 AM   #5
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keep going!
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:18 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, 10:24 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, 10:29 AM   #8
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It sounds like she should try to continue. Thanks!

She doesn't have time to start over as it takes so long for the plants to grow and it has to be done by the end of October. She has taken pictures along the way.

I really don't know why it is failing, the plants just aren't growing and are dying. She is using some sort of lettuce that was recomended, maybe it is too hot? They get water and sun.
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:33 AM   #9
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Repeat the experiment and note both results as two separate trials. My kids usually do 3 trials. If the results are the same, note and explain what might have gone wrong. If they are not the same, note and figure out why the first one didn't work.

Its all about the process , not the results.

Oops, didn't see your post about not having enough time. Just write up the results as is.

And a bit of advice? Ive learned always do experiments that only take a day or two...
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:41 AM   #10
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It sounds like she should try to continue. Thanks!

She doesn't have time to start over as it takes so long for the plants to grow and it has to be done by the end of October. She has taken pictures along the way.

I really don't know why it is failing, the plants just aren't growing and are dying. She is using some sort of lettuce that was recomended, maybe it is too hot? They get water and sun.
Can she continue with the seedlings (and report), but get a healthy plant and repot with her soil (shaking off the old soil) to measure changes in growth for the month?

Grass seed and chia seeds grow very quickly (we used to use them in potatoes for class projects).
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:02 PM   #11
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Repeat the experiment and note both results as two separate trials. My kids usually do 3 trials. If the results are the same, note and explain what might have gone wrong. If they are not the same, note and figure out why the first one didn't work.

Its all about the process , not the results.

Oops, didn't see your post about not having enough time. Just write up the results as is.

And a bit of advice? Ive learned always do experiments that only take a day or two...
I've learned to not make it too complicated too. Last year, DS (8) wanted to do something with rockets. We'd been launching model rockets for a while, so he decided that we could launch the same rocket with different size motors, and see how that affected flight performance.

So, we launched the same rocket a bunch of times, and (using an altimeter), got all sorts of great data. I helped with the launches, and talked about what data was useful for our experiment. But, when science fair day came, I think he lost points because the judges did not think that he had done the work himself.
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:24 PM   #12
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Show the failure and show the lessons learned. Don't change in mid stream.

If nothing else, hydroponics is tough to do, even on a small scale and maybe that is why it isn't utilized in our society more. That's a good lesson to learn.

Or maybe Mickey Mouse just has a green thumb and the school should pay for your family to return to EPCOT for more "research." That would be a could Summary of your hypothesis.
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:38 PM   #13
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Write a note or email her teacher. Ask which option best fits her expectations. It would not be difficult to switch to a different project.

I personally feel it is better to bring a simple success as my project, rather than fail miserably with something that just didn't work. Kids can be cruel if she brings a failed project to school. No child needs ridicule.
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Old 10-04-2012, 01:30 PM   #14
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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, 05:57 PM   #15
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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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