The science fair is an engaging, high-stakes, and interactive way for students to acquire real world skills. Assuming the role of a scientific researcher and author, the fourth graders have the opportunity to investigate a personalized question of their own choosing, present their findings, and synthesize their classroom learning on their feet as they field questions and feedback from parents, teachers, and peers during the learning exhibition. In addition, the students reflect and discuss how an experiment may lead to the design of another experiment or even apply to a new technology to help others today, for example, in healthcare, energy, or sustainable systems.
Unlike the other levels, the fourth graders propose their own inquiry, conduct the experiment, and complete the presentation preparations in class. The students begin the process by brainstorming potential projects and then pitch their favorite ideas to their classmates. During science class, the students give each other constructive feedback on testable questions, offer ways to modify their ideas, and provide suggestions, such as ways to expand the project to ensure getting the best dataset. Subsequently, the students craft their hypotheses, draft their experiments’ procedures, and edit each other's work in class. Once materials are brought to class, the students set up and conduct their experiments. On November 15, the fourth graders presented a wide range of experiments, such as subjecting plants to the effects of acid rain, investigating the validity of the “5-second rule,” and probing whether dogs have cleaner mouths than people's.