The classroom experience is an important part of the way a student learns new material, but it is by no means the only part. In the rush to make sure that students are properly educated, it is easy to get caught up in the more obvious, typical, ordinary aspects of learning and to forget about some techniques which, although they are not used quite as frequently, have every bit as much value and are one hundred percent as vital as any of the other more commonly seen ways that we teach children in a modern classroom setting.
You see, when students get together in a classroom with a teacher, the primary purpose of that gathering is to transmit information from the teacher to the student. All of the information that the teach communicates on the given subject is already known and established, and he or she is simply telling the information to the students so that they will know it as well. In other words, nothing new is being created or pursued; instead, something which is already known is being transferred from one place (the teacher’s mind) to another place (the mind of the student).
One other way to do things is actually to set about discovering new information in the classroom. In this manner students and teachers can embark together on a process of discovery where neither the student nor the teacher knows what might happen at the end. This is very different from the way things are normally done because it really seeks to add to the amount of existing knowledge in the world instead of just spreading it from place to place. One really great way to pursue knowledge in this way is through a science fair, where students will create science fair projects.
Science Fairs are a kind of scientific competition held at schools. Winners from schools head to local or state science fairs, and then to national science fairs, and then from there a few talented students will go on to compete in the international science fair. The way that the contest works is that a student picks a topic that he is interested in. He devises some interesting way to demonstrate a scientific principle related to that topic, or else he creates some hypothesis related to it and goes about testing that hypothesis in a hands on sort of way.
To be sure, in most cases both teacher and student know what will happen, or at least what is supposed to happen, when any given experiment is designed. However, because of the unpredictable nature of experimentation, there is always a very real chance that something unexpected will happen, in which case both the student and the teachers stand to learn something when they try to figure out what exactly happened. Beyond that, at the higher levels, there actually are some students whose experiments are so advanced that the data they record are of real value to the scientific community, because they are exploring something in a new way. This is a really amazing situation because it turns the student from a passive recorder of science into an active seeker of knowledge.
Science fairs are a wonderful way to engage students in a way that normal classroom experiments just can’t. They make the idea of gaining knowledge tangible and fun and unpredictable, and although the traditional classroom experience can be quite valuable, it is important also to make room for fun assignments like Science Fair Projects.