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What is the Science Club?
Each month students (6th - 8th grades) have the chance to compete against each other in science related events. Many of these events challenge them to create a device that will accomplish a specific task, such as to protect an egg from breaking in the Egg Drop (pdf) or projects from the Junk Box Wars. Science Club members also help with the Nature Center garden each spring and have the opportunity to participate in various projects in the community, such as Eagle Days, Bug Hunt, and cleanup days.
What do you do each month?
Each month I choose an event (see the list on the main page) and "advertise" on the school announcements and monthly calendar. Club members stop by my room to sign up for the event and receive a rules sheet with the time and date as well as any other important info. Each year I try to offer a few of the favorite events from previous years along with some new ones.
Most of the events are based on a "build it-test it" format, such as Junk Box Wars, which requires students to build the device on the day of the event. For this type of event, I provide the materials and go over the event rules. Members have time to create the device and practice. Once that time is up, the competition begins and all the devices are impounded. Students draw numbers (or I randomly select score sheets) to determine who goes first, second, and so on, then the competition begins! The winners are announced on the school announcements and I post a list of winners in the Science Club "Hall of Fame", an area by my classroom door.
Some of the events require students to bring a device on competition day, such as the Egg Drop and Naked Egg Drop. For these events, I schedule time during the week before the competition (lunch periods or after school) for the students to work on their projects in my room. They must provide the materials, but are able to ask for help and practice before the actual competition.
In September of each year, I offer a
Bug Festival as our first event. In the spring, I offer something related to Earth Day - community clean up project or tree planting. This past year my partner and I developed the Earth Quest activity (listed on my
GPS Lessons page.) This activity challenged students to use GPS receivers to find caches in the schoolyard and complete challenges with an environmental twist - sort of an Amazing Race meets Earth Day event.
Parents and grandparents are a great source for helping hands and love watching the competitions - they also like the chance to try it for themselves and compete against the kids! I ask for volunteers a few weeks before each event and have them help me conduct the event, such as monitoring the groups during construction, checking devices prior to competition, and recording information on the score sheets during competition.
NOTE: For more ideas on organizing monthly events, read the tips provided on the Junk Box Wars Tips page available in
the Create Your Own Challenge section of the website. Many of the ideas would apply to the events listed on the main Science Club page.
When do you hold Science Club events?
Competitions are scheduled once each month on a Saturday or after school. I try to avoid conflicts with other school and community events which can be a challenge.
How do students join the club?
At the beginning of each year, I send home a Science Club Newsletter (pdf) for students to share with their parents. The newsletter has a registration form that must be signed and returned by a specific deadline. Since many of the events are team events, I encourage students to find a friend or two to join the club with them.
Do students have to participate in every event?
No, they can choose the events and activities they want. They earn points for participating in each event, the annual fund raiser, and other activities throughout the year. Members earning 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each event are recognized at our annual Awards Day in May. Members who have completed at least half of the events and activities are invited to a special field trip to St. Louis or other fun activity in May, such as a Science Festival.
What are the Science Club rules?
Good behavior is expected at all science club events. Behavior that puts the safety of others at risk results in the loss of science club privileges for the remainder of the year. Members with failing grades are considered ineligible until those grades improve.
Where do you get the money for club projects and activities?
Our club is supported through annual fund raising activities. The money raised is used to buy materials for the projects, awards, and sponsor an annual field trip. Here are a few ideas:
• The Dollar Drive is an easy fund raiser that makes people want to help! Club members ask family members and classmates to donate one dollar to the Science Club. To keep track of donations, each person receives a Thank You slip indicating the amount they donated! We have raised over $300 every time we hold a drive.
• Each spring we sell items from the
Nature's Vision catalog, a company associated with Uncle
Jerry's T's. They are a great company to work with
and offer a variety of items and bonuses for sellers!
• Another fun option is to have a Penny Vote. Get an idea - ugliest tie, worst hair style, best Halloween costume, or Kiss the Roach/Pig/Frog, then round up cooperating teachers to participate. The students vote on their favorite by placing pennies in jars during their lunch hours. We usually raise around $50 - 75 and have loads of fun as well! This is a great option for ball games, school dances, and Open House events.
• Grants may be another option! Search gifted funds, local companies, and educational agencies for ideas. Write a grant for a project (butterfly garden, river study, or lab activity) or even a museum field trip! Have local businesses sponsor a club activity or event!
More tips ...
• For your first year, try to focus on a few events. Once you get the students motivated and have had a chance to learn the ropes, you can add more events to challenge them.
• Always try the event yourself before you try it with the kids. That way you'll get an idea of what types of questions the kids will have and how much time you will need to allow.
• Find a helper! Ask another teacher (or two) to help you with the Science Club.
• Check with local schools to see if they would be interested in competing against your students.
• Network with local environmental groups and agencies to find ways to get your students involved in community activities.
• Join your state's Science Olympiad program and sign up your club! It is a great opportunity to give them a chance to show off their science skills and you will get a chance to meet other science teachers in your region.