For years, science projects have been a staple at school, and in the home. While they might start in the classroom, science projects may become family affairs. In fact, according to research commissioned by the non-profit Synopsys Outreach Foundation, more than three quarters of upper elementary students and nearly one half of middle schools students surveyed said they worked on their science project with an adult besides their teacher. And of those students, 78% of upper elementary and 76% of middle school students most often reported working with a family member on their science project.
But besides creating a new activity with a family member, just what are the benefits of doing a science project? As many parents and teachers know, they make for valuable experiences – and not just for future scientists.
In 2012, the Synopsys Outreach Foundation contracted with WestEd, an educational research firm, to conduct a survey of 1,600 students in grades 4-12 to determine the benefits of science projects. Using a 4 point Likert Scale they tested students’ perception of their skills before and after doing a project. Of particular interest were skills necessary in the 21st century workplace.
The survey research found that students reported significant gains in several important categories including their abilities to
manage a project and meet deadlines; develop an idea for, plan and conduct an experiment; keep a logbook, analyze data and create a chart or graph; write results, create a presentation board, and discuss and present results to an adult other than their teacher.
So whether they go on to become scientists or engineers or teachers or nurses or to any job that requires critical thinkers, science projects help kids to be resourceful and develop skills they’ll need to succeed in school, the workplace and in life.
This short video highlights some of the survey’s findings.