EDC to Conduct National Study of Science Fairs

Abigail Jurist Levy

In a new, four-year National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded study, Science Fairs Under the 'Scope, an EDC team led by Abigail Jurist Levy (at left), Jackie DeLisi, and Marian Pasquale—and including Erica Fields, Janna Kook, Tracy McMahon, Leana Nordstrom, and Kerry Ouellet—will investigate the impact that science fair participation has on students’ mastery of science and engineering practices, as well as the role that participation can play in sparking students' interest in science education and careers. The team will also analyze the costs of implementing a school-based science fair to identify the most cost-effective approaches to strengthening science fairs and bringing the most potent aspects of the science fair experience into the everyday science learning of middle school students nationwide.

To systematically document and describe science fair models and their design elements, the team will develop and field a large-scale national survey of middle school (grades 6-8) science teachers. Once the survey results are in, the team will use this information to choose 40 middle schools across the country to more closely examine the science fair experiences of participants.

Levy notes, “A study of science fairs of this scope has not been conducted in the U.S. before. The findings have the potential to increase science fairs’ effectiveness and reach, to provide formal and informal science educators with effective ways of bringing science and engineering practices to their students, and to give researchers tools to assess the science and engineering practices.” 

Last Updated: October 2014