Where great presentations begin

Helping at the Right Level

How parents can offer just the right assistance at every stage of the project.

Time Management

Get a handy checklist you can use to make sure your student's project is on track.

Creating a Workspace

Figure out a dedicated workspace for your student's project to minimize disruption.

Overcoming Roadblocks

How to prevent minor project setbacks from derailing your student's progress.

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Helping at the Right Level

You don't have to be an expert in your student's subject matter in order to lend a hand with the project. Your guidance and advice can help move the process along at any stage — from choosing a topic, to doing research, to rehearsing the presentation.

It can be challenging as a parent to find the balance between being involved and supportive of a child's project, and helping too much. When it comes to science fairs, letting your child explore, observe, make mistakes, ask questions — and seek the answers — is at the heart of the process. Here are a few guidelines on appropriate parent involvement at each phase of a science fair project.

Portions of the content on this page taken from sciencebuddies.org.

Project Step

Helping at the right level

Going too far

Ask a question

Discussing with your child whether a project idea seems practical

Picking an idea and science project for your child; topic that isn’t of interest to him or her will turn into a boring project

Do background
research

Taking your child to the library.

Helping your child think of keywords for internet searches

Doing an Internet search and printing out articles

Construct a
hypothesis

Ask how the hypothesis relates to an experiment the child can do.

Writing the hypothesis yourself

Test the hypothesis
by doing
an experiment

Assisting in finding materials.

Monitoring safety (you should always observe any steps involved heat or electricity).

Writing the experimental procedure.

Doing the experiment, except for potential unsafe steps.

Telling your child step-by-step what to do

Analyze data and
draw a conclusion

Asking how your child will record the data in a data table.

Reminding your child to tie the data back to the hypothesis and draw a conclusion

Creating a spreadsheet and making the graphs yourself, even if your child helps type in values.

Announcing the conclusion yourself

Communicate
your results

If a presentation is assigned, acting as the audience.

If a display board is assigned helping bring it to school

Writing any of the text on the display board.

Determining the color scheme and other graphic elements.