Date of Graduation

7-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Advisor

William McComas

Committee Member

Jason Endacott

Second Committee Member

Michael Wavering

Third Committee Member

Catherine Wissher

Keywords

Education; Curriculum; Science fair; Science research

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to identify components of schools with successful science

fair programs. Ideally schools interested in starting or improving their science fair programs could find a way to emulate some of the identified components. Successful was defined by having received recognition on some level at the International Science and Engineering Fair at least nine out of the last ten years. Twelve schools were identified as meeting this definition and five agreed to participate in the study. The schools represented diverse geographic areas as well as types of schools. Included in the study was a private school, two public schools and two public magnet schools. Data were collected through surveys, interviews, observations and document analysis. The climate of the school and the climate of the community were key features identified as helping to foster successful science fair programs. Unique features were identified as being present at most of the schools. These included embedding science research in

the curriculum, requiring participation in science research for all students, flexible scheduling and offering elective science research classes. As the nation is increasingly focused on preparing students to enter STEM fields it seems that including science research in the science curriculum and emulating some of these unique components of successful science fair schools would be worth pursuing.

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