A ‘powerful’ learning tool

Amber Nicholson
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KENSINGTON - School science fair projects require a lot of time, money and patience, but P.E.I. Science Fair chief judge Barry Linkletter says what children gain through the preparation and presentation of their projects is knowledge to last a lifetime.

"I think most children like learning new things especially when it's something they're interested in and with a science fair project you get to choose the subject. That's a very powerful thing because whatever you're interested in you're going to do well at," said Linkletter, who is a faculty member of the University of Prince Edward Island chemistry department. 

Linkletter said students gain valuable public speaking experience through the presentation of their projects and they learn scientific methods instead of the mere outcome.

"They learn how to proceed with the research, how to control variables and how to keep track of data so they can compare data from one day to the next," said Linkletter.

Several Island Schools are holding science fairs in the upcoming week as the deadline for schools’ entries into the provincial science fair competition is Tuesday, March 16.

Queen Elizabeth Elementary School in Kensington held its Grade 4, 5 and 6 science fair on Wednesday with more than 120 projects entered.

Principal Rodney MacArthur was able to see first hand how students are benefiting from science fairs.

"I think the hands-on, 21st-century learning is great," said MacArthur, as he browsed his students' entries in the school gymnasium on Wednesday. "When you have to present something to teach something you learn a lot more about it than maybe you normally would."

MacArthur's theory was demonstrated through eager students anxious to share the knowledge they gained while conducting their experiments. Two enthusiastic students who often found themselves surrounded by an intrigued crowd were Brandon Johnston and Holden Sheen, who made it into the finals for their school. For their science fair project, they studied how a windmill creates power.

When asked what the pair learned during their research, Johnston immediately piped up, "Oh man, where to start? I just thought the wind came and something sparked and created electricity, but I guess there's a bit more to it than I thought."

Sheen continued by explaining in detail how a windmill operates.

Principal MacArthur added that it is not only participating students who benefit from science fair projects; younger students in the schools are also exposed to a new way of learning.

"It's great for our kindergarten to Grade 3s. They tour and visit every time we have a fair and they can't wait to get to Grade 4 to make their own," said MacArthur.

Queen Elizabeth Elementary selected six projects on Wednesday to attend the provincial science fair happening at the UPEI Canada Games Sports Centre on Tuesday, March 29. Projects will be judged on scientific thought, creative ability, skill, dramatic value and project summary for a score marked out of 100. There will be a public viewing of the projects between 2 and 4 p.m. Five projects will be selected to compete at the national competition in Toronto.

 

anicholson@journalpioneer.com

 

Organizations: P.E.I. Science Fair, University of Prince Edward Island, Several Island Schools Elizabeth Elementary School UPEI Canada Games Sports Centre

Geographic location: KENSINGTON, Toronto

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