From My Mailbox: Science Fair Project for a Second Grader

A mother from Doral, Florida sent me a copy of her second grader’s science fair project requirements. The entire project is to be done at home. The mother, a chemical engineer, thought the project was way beyond the capabilities of any second grader, so she wrote to both the teacher and the principal expressing her concern. The assistant principal wrote back:

I understand your concern as a parent. However, the decisions regarding the Science Fair projects are made as a collaboration between the administration, Science Coach, and teachers. I have looked over the science fair timeline and expectations carefully. The project is given in a way that there is enough time to complete each section.

The purpose of the project is to provde a time for inquiry and exposure to the scientific method. My suggestion is to make sure that the project that your daughter chooses is grade appropriate, keep it simple as she is in second grade, and speak to the teacher again if you are unclear about any of the components of the project. I have spoken to her teacher regarding this and I believe her expectations of the project are grade appropriate.

Please make sure that all the requirements are met as she wil be graded accordingly.

The project, replete with multiple deadlines, requires the second graders to, among other things, write an abstract and hypothesis, have a materials list and a complete bibliography (following a standard format), discuss procedures and variables, make a display board, and do an oral presentation. The school holds a workshop to teach parents what’s expected.

3 thoughts on “From My Mailbox: Science Fair Project for a Second Grader

  1. The letter from the assistant principal states:

    Please make sure that all the requirements are met as she will be graded accordingly.


    This was the best part of the entire missive. “Please make sure that all requirements are met…” What is even morer curious about this edict is how often it happens and how rarely parents question it.

    Please make sure that all requirements are met. Imagine if we sent letters like this to the teacher? Or the principal? You have suddenly been roped into being your child’s teacher without training, without pay, without your permission. You work full time? You don’t want a second job when you walk through the door, you want to be your child’s mother, not her homework cop? Tough.

    Please make sure all requirements are met. In Susan Ohanian’s marvelous and insightful book “What Happened to Recess and Why Are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten?” (2003), she tells this true story.

    Suzy bursts through the door after a long day at school. The mother excitedly rummages through her backpack to see what nuggets she has brought home. Among the assortment of papers and drawings is this note: “Suzy did not finish her spelling story and sentences at school today. Please make sure this is done at home and returned in full tomorrow.”

    The mother sent Suzy to school the next morning lugging a laundry basket full of clean clothes with this note tacked to the shirt on top: “We did. We made sure Suzy did all her spelling words last night. But as a result, the laundry I had planned for Suzy to fold did not get done. Please make sure Suzy folds the contents of this entire basket at school today. Please return in full tonight. Sincerely, Suzy’s mother.”


  2. I stumbled upon this page searching for science fair ideas for my ds (not that he needs them, he’s a whirlwind of crazy ideas on his own, LOL) ~~ and I wanted to say ….. I think all but the workshop for parents is completely reasonable. My ds did this in first grade and yes I am a single working and student mother, so it’s not like we have buckets of time. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable.

    Despite this disagreement (minor criticism?) I will be spending more time on your site, as, from this page, it seems to be more in line with my philosophy ~~ which is that as a whole kids today are way too overworked with paperwork rather than being given a chance to explore and discover…


  3. Oh my lord!
    I wasn’t expected to do this kind of thing til about year TEN! And even then i struggled! Expecting a kid to write a hypothesis?

    I feel sick from reading this!


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