Make it real and make it count. That is the mantra of authentic teaching and learning. But does “real” really mean “real”?
The photo above is from a Virtual Science Fair on Mars. While creating the Martian Colony, we decided to hold a Virtual Science Fair – on Mars! We learned about the scientific process and the kids all came up with a question and hypothesis, and a proposal for conducting an experiment on Mars. They then built a model showing what their experiment might look like on Mars.
Our focus was teaching the concept of hypothesis. So many times, we see Science Fair entries that are really reports, not experiments. So, with this group of fifth-graders we took the process apart and focused on each piece throughout the year. The kids were graded on whether or not they wrote a hypothesis. In the end, most of them went way beyond that.
The Science Fair may have been “Virtual” in that we really were not on Mars, but it was real science, and it did count!
*Our favorite entry was the student who wanted to know what would happen if you took a can of soda out on the Martian surface. Her hypothesis was that it would explode because of the extreme cold temperature on Mars. She decided to test this out in her freezer at home. And the can did explode. We hid from that mother when she visited the Virtual Science Fair!