About Parent Participation

Although one of the judging criteria is independent work, parents are encouraged to discuss the project with the student and provide assistance with research or preparation of the exhibit. Students should be encouraged to do as much as possible on their own. (Judges will try to ascertain whether the student did, in fact, do the work himself.) Students should do the manipulations and measurements in the experiments and should make their own drawings and charts. Hand-drawn charts and graphs are fine—especially for younger students; computer-generated charts and graphs are acceptable only if the student has learned the appropriate software to generate these himself (this would be recommended for high school students).

Parents sometimes want to build an entire project, to make it "perfect." Yet, it is more important for your child to wrestle with problems and try to solve them, because learning is in doing. Guide your child whenever and wherever you can, but let the final project reflect your child's individual effort and design.

What a Parent May Do:

Help student plan a research schedule to prevent a last-minute project.
Help student find appropriate books, scientific journals, or scientists to interview for preliminary research.
Advise student about potential safety hazards.
Help student fill out ISEF paperwork, if applicable. (Usually, a parent is the sponsor of a homeschooled science fair entrant; as such, you must be the one to sign the paperwork.)
Instruct in the use of applicable scientific equipment and of data-gathering equipment (scales, rulers, timers, etc.) so that student may conduct the experiment and collect data himself.
Photograph the experiment for the visual display. (Please note that photographs of the student himself should not be on the display board of 6th to 12th grade students.)
Proofread project summary or draft(s) of written report. (For younger students, dictation of the project summary is allowed, while older students are expected to write their own.)
Teach student computer programs, if available, which will enable him to generate his own charts, graphs, and display text. (Please do not make these for your child!)
Help student to focus on gaining skills and doing his best rather than winning a prize. (Isn't that your priority, too?)

Remember that a science fair project can encompass many other subject areas (reading, writing, math, oral & social skills, logic, and art). It's okay to lighten up in these areas during crunch time!

Also check out ISEF's Roles and Responsibilities of Students & Adults.

by Lisa Swieson, GPHSF Director
©2001 Greater Philadelphia Homeschool Science Fair.

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Questions? Contact the GPHSF Director. Last modified: 17 July 2002