For many years, hundreds of students from around East Central Indiana have been competing for scholarships and prizes in local and regional science fairs. In 1988, the Science Education Foundation of Indiana held the first annual Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair. For three decades, it has provided the opportunity for Indiana students to advance and compete in national and international science fairs.

Science fairs complement our educational system’s increased focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) subjects. By participating in science fairs, students in grades K-12 build upon classroom experiences and expand their abilities to think critically and creatively, defend original ideas, and design and conduct measurable experiments. Students who participate in science fairs learn that science is not just a body of knowledge; it is also an evidence-based process.

What makes a good science fair project?  

Young girl explaining a science fair project.

A young scientist explains her project to a judge at the Regional Science Fair.

Many areas of scientific study make great science fair projects.  Most importantly, students should pick a project or topic they find interesting. Science fair projects need to include a hypothesis or an educated guess about what the results of their experiment will be. Students need to conduct an experiment with a control and analyze their observations and measurements to see if their hypothesis was correct, or close to correct. At the science fair competition, students need to have neat and creative displays for their experiments. Additionally, young scientists will have a chance to explain their experiment, defend their results, and answer judge’s questions.

My student is thrilled about doing a science fair project, now what?

We are glad they are excited! If your local school hosts a science fair, encourage your child to ask their teachers about participating. Most grade school science fairs have entry forms and rules to help guide your student through the process. If your local school does not host a science fair, explore regional options. In Indiana, you can visit Science Education Foundation of Indiana to learn how to obtain a teacher sponsor and participate in one of the ten regional science fairs around the state.

Great, but I am afraid participating in a science fair is just adding one more item to my family’s to do list!

Sports, music, dance, and all the other activities that are already loading down family schedules can be overwhelming.  Remember, science fair projects are for kids, and should be conducted by kids. Often times, we find ourselves helping our young scientist create outstanding displays or take the less frustrating route and give our kids the right answer instead of letting them find it on their own. Once your student has narrowed down their experiment, and you have given input on feasibility and supply affordability, they should take ownership of their project.

Landspout Tornado, near Silma, Colorado.

Join us for the East Central Indiana Regional Science Fair  

Once again, Ball State University’s Department of Biology is hosting the East Central Indiana Regional Science Fair. The fair will take place on Saturday, February 16, 2019 at Ball Gym. Students who are in grades three through twelve may exhibit on any scientific subject if they are from Blackford, Delaware, Fayetteville, Franklin, Grant, Henry, Howard, Jay, Madison, Randolph, Rush, Tipton, Union or Wayne counties. Please visit the East Central Indiana Regional Science Fair web-page for a complete list of rules and entry forms.

Prior to the awards ceremony, students and families can experience a flurry of hands-on weather related activities provided by the Department of Geography. Meteorology and climatology faculty members Dr. David Call and Dr. Nathan Hitchens will give a special presentation on storm chasing and severe weather.