Mulling over the Future of Science Fairs and Glogster

Sixty four projects spread out across one giant cafeteria, with hundreds of students milling about. It was Science Fair for sixth graders at my school yesterday, as they shared their work around using the Scientific Method with display boards, games and even a puppet show.

This is the sixth year our science teacher has done the fair, opening up the learning to the entire school, and she and I had an interesting conversation about the Science Fair and the use of Glogster. I had mentioned that some teachers are moving towards Glogster for this kind of project. We both use Glogster for projects, and she intends to use it again this year.

We went through the pros and cons of moving the Science Fair from a physical space of sharing to a virtual space. I later added some of my own ideas as I was forming this list.

The Pros:

  • In Glogster, the projects can be archived forever.
  • The projects can be easily embedded into websites.
  • A Science Fair would never technically end.
  • Multimedia (video, audio, etc.) becomes part of the presentation tool box. For example, a podcast of an explanation of the steps of the Scientific Method could be put right into the project itself.
  • The world would become the audience; not just our school and students’ families.
  • The “writing process” on the virtual poster is a bit more malleable and forgiving (you don’t have to rip the glue and papers off to make a change). Just drag and drop and update.
  • You can now “sort” projects together under similar themes and share them out as a package of glogs. So, all of the projects that deal with Laws of Motion, or food, could be pulled together.

The Cons:

  • There would be less student collaborative work with Glogster, at least for now, as only one person can work on a single glog at a time.
  • There would be less opportunity for the face-to-face meetings that the younger students have with the sixth grade “scientists” at the fair and less opportunity for the sixth graders to “talk” through their learning to a live audience.
  • The presenter would not feel as engaged in the presentation if they were standing physically next to the project.
  • Parents can’t “save” the student work in the attic (although, they could on a flash drive, I suppose, but it’s not the same thing, is it?)
  • The idea of a school-wide even would diminish, even if you set up laptops around the space. It’s still not the same, is it?

In the end, she decided that Glogster is not yet a good fit for her vision of the Science Fair, particularly since a big part of the learning is interacting with audience and answering off-the-cuff questions from the younger students. I agreed with her.

Peace (in the thinking),