Submitted by: Angela Watson
In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades K-12, students use BrainPOP and/or BrainPOP Jr. resources to learn about planning projects when they create a science fair exhibit. They will select their topic, explore the criteria for planning, and design a compelling and realistic experiment based on their topic.
- Understand the criteria that determines a strong science fair project.
- Select a project topic that they are interested in.
- Design and implement a compelling and realistic experiment based on their selected topic.
- Computers with internet access for BrainPOP
- Interactive whiteboard (or just an LCD projector)
- Science fair project guidelines
Preparation:This lesson plan is designed to introduce the basics of a science fair project to students. Preview the BrainPOP and/or BrainPOP Jr. science and health movie topics so that you are familiar with them. Be sure to have all science fair project guidelines determined and available for students in digital or print form.
- Play either the BrainPOP Science Projects Movie or the BrainPOP Jr. Science Projects Movie for the class.
- Talk with students about what makes a good science project. Guide students to understand that the best projects are those that the project's creator is highly interested in. Students should select a topic they are passionate about and an experiment that they would enjoy conducting.
- Provide time for students to peruse the list of science and health topics covered on BrainPOP (geared for grades 3-12) and/or BrainPOP Jr. (geared for grades K-3). Allow students to complete this activity collaboratively and facilitate discussion.
- As they look through the science topics and talk about them with their peers, have students jot down 10-20 topics that they personally find interesting. You may want students to make a two column list with their favorite topics on one side and "maybe" topics on the other side.
- Talk about what makes a good science fair experiment. Expose students to key vocabulary terms and specific project guidelines.
- Have students work with a partner to narrow down their topic choices. They should circle 5 topics that they believe they could develop a compelling and realistic experiment around. On the back of their papers, have students write out the questions they could possibly address through their projects. Ensure that students understand that these must include "question words" (who, what, when where, why, how). Examples of strong science fair project questions include: How does ___ affect ___?, What is the effect of ___ on ___?, Which ___ is most/least ___?, and Which ___ does/makes ___ the best/the strongest/the weakest?
- Confer with students individually to help them narrow down their options and select the best question to research for their projects.
- Allow students to individually watch and take notes on the BrainPOP and/or BrainPOP Jr. movie topics associated with their project focus. To help them gain more background knowledge, encourage students to explore the additional features that are associated with the movie. Students may want to revise their questions or experiment approach at this point, so provide time for them to discuss this with one another, with a family member/parent, and/or with you.
- Guide students through the remainder of the science fair project planning and implementation process. Ensure that students know how to cite BrainPOP as one of their sources.
- Allow students to present their projects to the class. Assist students in making connections between their own project topics and other students' topics. As new questions arise, you may want to play related BrainPOP movie topics to extend student understanding.