Many Resources Available for Science Fair Projects
Lorrie Wheeler, Director, Claymont Public Library
“We are having a science fair at my school. I am in third grade. I want to do my project on where pill bugs live.”
|Many children’s reference librarians may “gulp” when hearing the words “science fair.” There are many resources available on the topic, but sometimes it is overwhelming finding age appropriate material or material at the specificity which children may be trying to find. In the example I gave above, the answer is easy. I looked in the revised edition of Science Experiments on File by Facts on File, Inc. “Pill bugs” just happen to be an experiment in the book. Unfortunately, not every library has this particular reference, but I am sure there are other methods to find the answer.|
Since science fair time is known to many librarians; it is not uncommon for individual collections to have a “science fair” sticker on the spine of a book containing science fair experiments. Many librarians will also gather a collection of science fair materials for the enterprising child who wants to find a project without help.
The internet has also become a great method of finding science fair projects. Savvy librarians, teachers, parents, and children can use search terms which result in finding just “the right project” the child wants to do. Unfortunately, in my experience, it can be daunting to find the absolutely correct results for that special project a child wants to do.
My past experience prompted me to add science fair links to the front page of our library’s website (www.claymontlibrary.org). One of these links is to Science Fair Buddies (http://www.sciencebuddies.org/). Another link on our page is to a piece of software we purchased from Erik Anderson called Science Fair Toolkit. It is an excellent way for persons of any age to learn about the scientific method and how to approach science fairs. I believe it is a good way for anyone to start a science fair project.
Since I worked as a children’s reference librarian, my approach to life has changed. I now see many topics that crop up in life as a “science fair project”! Lucky for me, I am no longer in school and do not have to do the project. Children are curious, and they deserve librarians and teachers who care enough to help them find the right answers to their questions. Becoming familiar with the many resources we have available, and directing the children and their families to the right resources is an important part of our job. Sharing resources with each other can help us be better at providing service. Ohio librarians are a wonderful source when we can not find the answer in a book or on the web. Remember to ask each other when a child has found a way to “stump the librarian” one more time!