Let's talk a little bit about school science fairs. Recalling back to your childhood, do you remember your school science fair projects? Did you have a special interest or passion you pursued? Or was it the finish-it-the-night-before-it's-due kind of project? Did your family help or were you the solo scientist on the project? A little "scientific" research about school science fair projects unearths a couple interesting items:
- Pinterest offers an elaborate section on Science Fair Projects.
- According to the images online, the basic foam-core, tri-fold display board is still widely used for the actual display.
- Online science fair project searching includes themes such as: cool, relevant, easy, by school grade, for parents, and “length of time to complete”.
In the "length of time to complete" category on a website that shall remain nameless, “24 hours” caught my attention. I was particularly hooked by the introduction:
“Five fast and easy science projects that can be finished in 24 hours! Science project due? Take a deep breath of relief. You’ve found your experiment! Stop wasting time Googling for an idea. Why start an experiment with hard-to-follow instructions that might not work? Avoid that long list of expensive, hard-to-find materials. Don’t risk submitting a science project that won’t help your child get the very best grade.”
Wow! "Don't risk submitting a science project that won't help your child get the very best grade?" What happened to curiosity, passion, and imagination? Where’s the wonder of science?
Feeling there has to be something more encouraging than this, my Googling continued (despite previous website's insistence that this activity would be a waste of time). Fortunately, another website offered the inspiration and motivation I hoped for!
ScienceBuddies.org offers a more engaging list of recommendations:
- Choose an exciting topic!
- Learn Cool Theories!
- Be a True Scientist!
- Trudge Onward!
- Use Your Brain!
This list is much more inspiring and encouraged yet a little more Googling, which led to the Google Science Fair website. This site includes stories about previous science fair youth scientists, their chosen topics, research processes and more! The diversity of passions and interests is reflected in the project titles. Stories from 2014 include:
- Natural Bacteria Combating World Hunger
- Cleaning Up Oil Sands Waste
- Wearable Sensors for Aging Society
- Fruit Fly-Inspired Flying Robots
- Cleaning the World With Sunscreen & Pencils
- ReThink: Effectively Stopping Cyberbullying
- Sustainable Electricity Generation and Water Purification
- Identification of Gravitationally Lensed Quasars
Digging deeper yielded a list of fascinating Google Science Fair awards. The descriptions of the awards are awesome!
- Community Impact
- Inspiring Educator
All of this reflection on school science fair projects comes full circle to the Internship Project, a major component of the internship program here at Luther Seminary (and the subject of the Project Proposal, which is due at this time of year for many of our current intern pastors).
The first website I mentioned is a reflection of the exact opposite of our hope for the internship project. God didn’t create the world in twenty-four hours. It took millions of years! So, how could a mechanical, technical internship project capture someone’s curiosity in such a short time?
By contrast, the lens of ScienceBuddies better represents our hope for the internship project: choose an exciting (ministry) project, and learn cool theories (practices), and be a true scientist (and theologian & pastor), trudge (journey) onward, and use your brain (and heart & soul)!
Additionally, weave in Google Science Fair Award descriptions. Rather than aiming for a winning grade, challenge yourself to be an Innovator, Explorer, Builder, Pioneer, Community Impact(or), Incubator, and Inspiring Educator!
The best takeaway for me is the wide range of stories on the Google Science Fair page. Our youth are using school science projects to combat hunger, provide clean water and a clean environment, stop cyberbullying, and care for the vulnerable. Isn’t this what God calls us to do as God’s people? How are we as ministry leaders engaging the youth in our communities, to understand their passions as part of God’s work in the world?
Thoughts to consider:
- Have fun with your internship project. Make it exciting and cool!
- Use your brain, heart, and soul.
- Challenge yourself to be an Explorer or Educator or Innovator or something more through your project.
- Finally, as a ministry leader, ask the youth in your congregation and community about their science fair projects! Listen, affirm, and inspire them to see their project through the lens of being a Child of God!
What is your Internship Project Story?
Contextual Learning wants to share your internship project stories with your ministry colleagues so you can network and learn from each other. Using the lens of the internship project, we'd like to help you be inspired and informed about what ministry leaders like you are exploring, building and innovating in contexts near and far! All of you are invited to share your project stories. Please contact me or watch for an email with more details to come! You will be hearing from me soon! firstname.lastname@example.org
(By the way: Does anyone know anything about Fruit Fly-Inspired Flying Robots?)