Science Fair: Truly a PROCESS of Discovery

This Friday, our Grade 6 Dragons will participate in yet another example of dynamic, hands-on learning in the form of the Science Fair. Standing beside their project boards, answering questions posed by judges—made up of parents, teachers, Grade 8 students, and even WES alumni—is only a small part of this experience.

Preparing each WES student for the science fair truly begins in our Early Childhood program, where our youngest dragons are introduced to the scientific method, start experiencing “data,” and begin building skills in public speaking. It continues into elementary as students work with scientific equipment and develop an understanding of what a hypothesis is and how it can be tested.

Science teacher Mehdi Elkassem makes sure that every one of his Grade 6 science students uses the fair experience to learn deeply and broadly, developing the understanding that science is a process. After they have developed their questions, hypotheses, variables, background research, and procedures, students conduct their experiment and collect data. Next, they make a practice presentation to their class that guides the creation of their classic “science fair project board,” which they then present in a second round, with other students acting as “judges.” Additionally, Mr. Elkassem asks the students to consider, after they have run their experiments, what additional research their findings suggest. The scientific process should not be a dead end but should open new doors to learning and fascination.

Only then, after two rounds of confidence-building practice, do the students bring their ideas and presentations to tomorrow’s Science Fair, where it is common for families and students in the elementary grades to watch, looking ahead and cheering on the young scientists. Each of these steps teaches students how to think clearly, how to synthesize data, how to write and speak clearly, and how to present their ideas to others. By the time each student presents at the fair itself, they have built a record of thinking broadly, clearly, and publicly.

WES ultimately chooses six of our Grade 6 Dragons to present their science fair projects at the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal Schools Association (MAESA) Fair, where we are proud to say that, last year, WES students swept the top three spots!

However, I am proud of each student. The Science Fair demands hard work and courage, but it also encourages creativity and curiosity. These are qualities our students will need in every subject and situation far into their bright futures!

Danny Vogelman
Head of School