From the Field to the Fair

Welcome to the Field to the Fair youth camp website, where Native American Indian students learn to embrace science! Our unique summer camp, held from June 17-23, 2012, on the School of Mines campus allowed native students to learn about science and engineering in a cultural context. The camp was staffed by local scientists and engineers, as well as Lakota cultural instructors to provide a meaningful learning experience for participants.

How to Build a Science Project

 Extracted from text by Jim Sanovia - Embracing Science Coordinator - Geological Engineer and tribal member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe

Science Projects for your local Science Fair

Whether you are starting a new idea, continuing a science project from last summer's camp experience, or have been assigned one by your teacher, here is some helpful advice.

Project Ideas

The first thing is to find some idea that interests you, the future scientist. Try to think of something original that both inspires and takes your knowledge to new and inventive levels. If you need help with ideas, search the internet or go to your local library. Also when brainstorming, look around your environment (around your house, nearby park, electronics, plants, etc.) and try and pose questions. When you discover interesting topics, ask yourself some questions, such as: How do rain drops, clouds, and thunderstorms form? How is acid rain formed and what are its effects on our planet? How to test for heavy metals or contaminants in drinking water? What is the difference between table sugar and high fructose corn syrup and do they affect people differently? Is wind energy more practical that using coal-derived electrical energy? How to design your own water recycling system to reuse water for watering your garden, plants, lawn etc. What would be the ideal robot for exploring Wind Cave?

Be sure that your idea makes sense, your objective is clear and achievable, and you define such items as disproving or proving or well-defined goals.

Here are some questions that judges might ask you:

What made you think of this project idea?
What kind of research did it take you to get here?
Has this kind of research been done before? If so what makes you project so different or unique?
Can you show or explain to me how this works?
Are there any future steps to this project or could it keep on going?

This is YOUR project!

When you present your project at the science fair, you will be the one talking to the judges, curious students, the general public, or even local scientists and engineers. That means that YOU must understand your projects terminologies, concepts, methodologies, and your scientific notes. Thus, make sure to keep your project at a level you are comfortable with.

You may receive guidance and help from your parents, science teacher, or mentor-advisor, but be sure to document and state when and where your help came from. When you look at your final poster, make sure you can describe each steps' scientific principle and any theories how you got to that point.

Stick to your point

If you are posing a question make sure your research pertains to a topic that is thorough and complete. Also, have intelligent responses to related experimental processes. This means be ready to answer and talk about your data and results in multiple ways.

Your Effort and Enjoyment

Choose a topic that interests you. You will want to start on your project right away, so you can get an idea of what needs to be done.

Not only will you conduct experiments or build something, but you will also need time to research and read. Remember that everything you do should be documented in a notebook or field book. This notebook should be with you at all time from start to finish and have all your research, field, and experiment days noted in it with date, time, location, who you worked with, weather temperature, etc. (even pictures or drawings). The quality of your note taking can reflect greatly with judges.

Your Science Project Presentation

There are two main matters when presenting your project. The first is the presentation of your work and how you display it on your poster. The second is the presentation you yourself give to the judges. So remember to keep this list below in mind:

Find a unique topic to start with.
State a question topic and stick with it.
Interpret your data correctly.
Do your research.
Take good notes and don't lose your notebook.
Be able to take the judges through your experiments and explain the basic scientific concepts.
Be able to explain your entire project and its real world application.

How to Participate in the Science Fair

Participating in the science fair takes several steps: proper registration, completing an acceptable project, fitting the poster to guidelines, and much more.

One of the more important items is "Registration." The deadline is generally at the beginning of March, but verify well in advance, and be sure to print out the form as well. Below is a general list of what may be on the registration form. You will also need a title that best explains your project and an advisor. One of the first people you might want to talk to is your science teacher or guardian.

At some point during your project, you will need to conduct a poster presentation on a three-panel construction board panel. Your poster dimensions will need to meet ISEF requirements along with the table and booth size.

Maximum size of project:

30 in. (2.5 ft or 76 cm) deep front to  back
48 in. (4 ft or 122 cm) side to side
108 in. (9 ft or 274 cm) floor to top of poster

When using a table, it becomes part of the poster dimensions. Here is a link for Microsoft Office Power Point poster templates:

Don't forget to read from many different sources about your project, and write down the name of the book and author for documentation purposes.

Inspiring Stories

These students did it and so can you!

Click on a student to learn more about their story and how they were able to Embrace Science with their culture and scientific project.

These students were able to participate even though their grade or school did not participate in doing science fair projects.

The student's project actually started by participating in the He Sapa Bloketu Woecun 2008 camp (Black Hills Summer Camp 2008). The summer camps strives to teach the students about science by connecting them with the land through their Native American Indian culture. Science topics introduced at the summer camp ranged from scientific and engineering topics to the stars, sky and land, to deep within the the Earth's crust. Through these experiences some of the students moved on to participate in the winter science fair camp. Click on a student to see their story and how their project came to be.

Megan Brink Megan Brink - 9th Grade - Central High School Rapid City, South Dakota 

Cody Provost Cody Provost and Thor Lammers - 9th & 10th Grades Respectively - Central High School Rapid City, South Dakota

Leon Brown Leon Brown - 7th Grade - South Middle School Rapid City, South Dakota

Andrew Johnson Andrew Johnson - 6th Grade - Pine Ridge Elementary School Pine Ridge, South Dakota