For those seeking extra science fair support next year, the new Science Research class may be what they are looking for.
The class is a single semester, honors level course designed to help students doing science research, specifically those in IB Physics 1 or IB Biology 1 since those courses both require participating in the science fair.
Physics teacher Janet Kahn said she felt the need to offer a class to help with science fair because she and her colleagues noticed a lack of support for students taking part in it.
“Basically we have this problem that IB Physics 1 and IB Biology 1 are really intense academic courses with a lot of curriculum,” she said. “It’s a big challenge to fit in the science fair in our classes that we teach and students in junior year are often overwhelmed with the step up to all IB classes.”
The goal of the class is to help more students create more successful projects.
“We’ve always had students who have done successful projects, but I’m going to say that it is a little bit accidental,” she said. “We’d like to do a more purposeful job of helping students.”
Kahn said one of the things she hopes to help students with is choosing a topic for their project.
“I think the hardest part for many students is coming up with something that they care about and that’s still a challenge even with support,” she said. “But hopefully by giving class time, we can help people to find projects that they’re excited about.”
Kahn said participation in the science fair is an essential part of the IB curriculum.
“In order to be an IB science student, you have to be able to do science as well as learn about it,” she said. “Rather than just thinking about science as this body of knowledge that exists for us to learn, instead you need to [be] doing it yourself and then sharing your results.”
The course is intended to be taken to replace the semester free period many IB students have from taking Theory of Knowledge.
“Usually, IB Diploma candidates have that semester off, and many of them do spend their time in the library,” she said. “It’s not a bad way to have some extra time for homework, but we have found that there just isn’t enough support for students in doing their science fair project.”
Kahn encourages any students planning on taking a class with a science fair requirement to sign up for the Science Research class. “I’m expecting that students in the class will do very well in the fair because they put the time into making a project that should help them to connect with judges and have meaningful results,” she said.