Processing Investigations – explaining and publishing Level 2

Fairs and celebration


Watch what teachers say about developing literacy and numeracy through MyScience.

Science fairs and celebration of learning

One of the key elements in MyScience is the celebration of learning. This often occurs through a Science Fair event at the school with a goal of allowing students to share their knowledge and understanding with a range of listeners, and at the same time serves to raise awareness of the importance of science education within the school community. Students initially ‘publish’ their work as posters, demonstrations, oral explanations or other formats, which are displayed in the Science Fair and from there, teachers may select some to be entered into other competitions and awards schemes run at state or even national level. Within Australia these include awards schemes run by state and territory science teacher associations such as the Young Scientist Awards, the CSIRO CREST award scheme, the BHP Billiton Science Awards and even the Australian Museum Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize (go to the ‘What?! A mountain blows its top off’ for an example of effective communication or this link to Why does ice float?)

Oral presentation of a scientific investigation at a science fair with all the attendant planning and recording means that students often grow in confidence and expertise. Students will recount their activities, justify their choices and select appropriate media (poster, digital and/or video images) to provide evidence and engage the audience. The publication of an investigation report and its presentation at a science fair provides an ideal way to address the increasing emphasis of curricula on multimodal presentation of information. Modes of language include reading, viewing, writing, creating, speaking and listening. Multimodal texts combine, for example, print text, visual images and spoken word as in film or computer presentation media.

Science fairs often provide the challenge of communication with a varied audience. If junior students and young siblings are involved, concrete demonstrations will help the audience to understand the procedures and the nature of the results. Students will experience the increased engagement of the audience through active participation. Presenting students could be encouraged to showcase their investigations both pictorially and with explanatory text thereby providing information in a variety of formats for different audience comprehension levels. Watch this video of two students enthusiastically sharing their results at a science fair. They could even develop junior and senior level ‘quizzes’ about their work to further engage their listeners and readers.

On completion of scientific investigations around a theme such as ‘Global Issues’, class knowledge and understandings could be applied if students developed a webquest around the issue. Support for the use of webquests as a strategy to demonstrate learning is found on the DET only Australian Government Quality Teaching Project website. Alternatively you may choose to support students to construct a PowerPoint presentation to communicate the key aspects of their investigation (non-DET link). This serves a dual purpose since PowerPoint slides may be used in a computer presentation and also individually printed for displaying on a poster (Prezi is an alternative to PowerPoint that you might like to try). An extension of this is the DET link digital portfolio that contains a tutorial to support the development of non-linear power point presentations.

Videos of student investigations or science fairs can be taken and the following site provides support to teaching students to edit the videos for more effective communication. (non-DET link)