why do a collection? - Homeschool

Children in grades K - 5 may compete in the science fair with a collection. It is a wonderful way to introduce them to the science fair,
and to capitalize on their natural curiosity and enthusiasm for collecting and identifying things.
A collection may consist of things such as leaves, rocks, shells, feathers, and insect nests, but it does not have to be limited to STUFF
that you put in a BOX! It could consist instead of photographs of birds that visit your bird feeder, or photographs of evidence of
wildlife (such as footprints, scat, or markings). Medicinal herbs, pressed flowers from your garden, sand collected from various
beaches, bark of trees... the possibilities seem endless.
A collection should not be PURCHASED, although items in the collection may be purchased. For example, you should not buy and
display a pre-assembled rock collection, but you may show a rock collection that contains rocks that were purchased. It is best if the
student can identify where an item came from, such as, "I bought this peacock copper on a family trip to Colorado."
After the collection is gathered, it needs to be organized in a reasonable way. A shell collection, for example, might be classified as
"Shells found on the East Coast" and "Shells found on the West Coast". Or is might be separated into bivalves (like clams) and
gastropods (like snails). It would not make sense, from a scientific collection viewpoint, to organize a shell collection into big vs.
little shells. A collection may include similar items that don't belong, with an explanation of why they don't belong. For example,
Spanish moss doesn't belong in a "Moss Collection", because it is actually an epiphyte (an air plant). Likewise, a crab would not
belong in an insect collection; it is not an insect, it is a crustacean. The student could identify the similarities and differences.
The specimens in the collection should be identified and labeled. This will vary in detail and level of complexity according to the age
and maturity of the student. A "bird nest" for a first grader might be identified as "a house wren nest" by a fifth grader.
The information should be visually displayed on a triptych board. The display may be enhanced by drawings and illustrations, such as
a drawing of a feather with the parts labeled. Or perhaps include a map and color in the locations where specimens were
found. Child-drawn or child-labeled illustrations are preferred! Cut-and-paste illustrations from Wikipedia or other sources
should be avoided, as that entirely circumvents the educational merit of making a collection!
Each child needs to write an age-appropriate report about the subject. A younger child may dictate a report, or even write one
paragraph about the subject. Older children may be able to write a classic five-paragraph composition. I have allowed my
younger children to dictate their reports to me, which I wrote by hand, then copy their dictation for their handwriting exercises. That
allows the report to be entirely in the child's voice and in the child's hand, with Mom's spelling and punctuation.
Finally, include a list of sources used identifying specimens or for illustrations.
Here is a check list for what is expected in a Science Fair Collection:
_ A Title (on the report and on the triptych board)
_A collection of classified and identified objects
_An age-appropriate report on the subject
_A list of sources for information
On the day of the science fair, each student will get to share his or her collection with the judges. We have terrific judges lined up for
this year. They are medical students who are members of the Christian Medical Association, and they are eager to encourage our
budding young scientists!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I hope to see YOU at the science fair!
Cyndi Mullins
FEFC Science Fair Coordinator
[email protected]