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Science fairs: Nurturing the 21st century thinker

3D Tessellation model
A bespectacled 6th grader enthusiastically explains ‘efficiency of 3D space tessellations’ with myriad equations and handmade tessellation patterns to address the needs of the packaging, storing, shipping and construction industry.

Another middle school student, was inspired by his little brother’s telescope and built a simple vacuum chamber using a PVC pipe with a microphone and a speaker on both ends to find out how sound travels on Mars! This 8th grader from Granada Islamic School used an oscilloscope his mother found at an auction to measure the sounds. “I poke around and find junk to build my projects. It’s fun.”

Science projects today have become fun for many students as they use more hands on activities to experiment and understand concepts. These two middle school students were among 996 participants at the recent Synopsys Silicon Valley Science and Technology Championship, where RAFT was one of the special judges.

Moenes Iskarous, President, SCVSEFA (Santa Clara Valley Science and Engineering Fair Association) feels, “The most interesting and enjoyable thing we see in the science fair is that the students are energized, motivated by the judges – the subject experts who talk to them and give them ideas …it gives them a big push in excelling in the future years.”

A science fair project is one of the best hands on learning experiences a student can undertake. From selecting a scientific question, doing library and Internet research work to formulate the hypothesis, and conducting the experiment, to writing a report on his/ her learning, the process introduces students to more than just science concepts. A student also learns how to collaborate with teammates, communicate his/her research findings, be creative and inventive, and also gains the most important skill – critical thinking.

These are the 4C’s that are the backbone for 21st century learning and innovation skills and RAFT has been instrumental in creating these 21st century thinkers  by empowering educators with hands on products and professional development services.

RAFT Activity Kit
Lindon Richards, a science teacher at Milpitas Christian School whose students have been participating in the Synposys Science Fair for over 10 years says, “RAFT has been an invaluable resource in helping me prepare students for this and other competitions. I have personally gleaned new ideas as to how to illustrate science concepts, just by conversing with the RAFT education team. The actual models that they have created also serve to demonstrate new ways to use the varied materials carried by the store.”

Two of Lindon’s students have won prizes at this year’s Synopsys Silicon Valley Science and Technology Championship.

Has RAFT helped you in helping your students prepare for science fairs and competitions? Share your experiences with us – email or comment below.

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