Teaching students to think like scientists

Science Fair 2019

Written by: Nick McClellan, Community Engagement Coordinator, HSA

If you grew up learning that science is a class where you memorize clunky, four-syllable words and follow instructions straight out of the lab manual, raise your hand.

That’s just the kind of thinking that Mr. Brangham and the rest of the science department at Horizon Science Academy Toledo and Springfield are working to change when they help their students develop ideas for science fair. Too often, students think that science is about rote memorization and step-by-step procedures, rather than active and live processes, Mr. Brangham says.

“Students have these misconceptions…they think science must be conducted in a cookbook sequence,” says Mr. Brangham, high school science teacher. “I teach my kids that science is a process. It’s messy, it’s here, it’s there. They might be doing something and all of a sudden they get data they didn’t expect to get and suddenly they’re off on a tangent. That’s real science.”

Mr. Brangham and Mrs. Beland, along with other staff, have been mentoring students through science fair projects since earlier in the year. 

This year, HSA teamed up with students in the Student American Chemical Society Organization at the Unversity of Toledo’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. UT students were thrilled to help judge our students’ science fair projects, giving them some unbiased guidance on their projects.

Evan Diemler, Vice President of UT’s Stuent ACS said, ” I can speak on all of our behalfs who attended, we had a good time. I will be graduating at the end of this year, but I believe that our members would enjoy collaboration in the future! I hope the best for the students at the Cleveland science fair.” 

Winners of this year’s Science Fair will be traveling to compete in Concept Schools Science and Engineering Fair in Cleveland on April 6, 2019. Stay tuned for more information regarding the results of this’s science fair.