This is the second in a series of posts by GLOBE teachers sharing classroom experiences to support the student research process. The series is supported by NSF funding for the United States Regional Student Research Symposia. If you are a teacher interested in contributing, please contact Haley Wicklein for more information.
Thank you to Jayme for sharing this!
Last year, I had two different groups of students present at the GLOBE regional science fair in Houston, Texas.
The students (one 6th grade, two 7th graders, and two 8th graders) had never even seen a scientific poster before. My only experience with scientific posters were from the ones I made as an undergraduate and graduate student. I did not really have any idea of how to teach this poster making process, so I figured I would just use my prior experiences to go through this new experience with them.
We began by reviewing the steps of the scientific method.
Not many elementary schools in my school district conduct a science fair, so we looked online at tri-fold poster boards of how elementary-based science fair boards look. This helped the students to at least understand what kind of information had to be included on the poster.
The students did not seem to have too much difficulty with the hypothesis, procedure, materials, and observations sections.
They were able to begin these sections on their own and do a first draft by themselves.
One of the 7th grade students noted that at the beginning, she thought that the poster would mainly be pictures and she would just be able to say, “here is our project.”
However, they soon found out this is not the case.
As the teacher, I had to walk the students through “what is an abstract?” and the importance and relevance of the background information.
The empathy piece was really stressed. This helped the students use reliable sources to complete the background information.
The abstract was still a struggle for the middle school students and this was probably noted as one of the hardest challenges through this very challenging poster making process. I had to help the students make numerous modifications to the abstract, as well as properly citing their research in their background information section.
The students did note that they were surprised with the amount of detail that was involved.
They had many pictures they wanted to include, but picking out the most vital images and adding captions was something they overlooked at first.
They also were used to reading graphs, but not using a program like Excel to digitally make their own graph with precise measurements.
These details later took the students some time to go back and make revisions on sections of the poster they thought were already finished.
The one 6th grade student stated, “it felt rushed” to complete the poster because of all of the revisions that were needed.
These were the moments where the frustration showed. The students were using prior knowledge and gaining a more in depth understanding of the poster making process during this frustrating time.
Looking back once the poster was complete, these students were proud of working past the frustration and had a better overall understanding of the project and making a scientific poster.