It’s a busy week around the halls of OVCS as we are preparing to continue our wonderful tradition with this year’s Academic Fair!
What is the Academic Fair?
This is a multi-subject project that students work on for several weeks (even months) and then present to judges, the school, and their families! Similar to a science fair, but going beyond just science…
What’s the process?
Students are given an opportunity to choose topics of personal interest. They then have several weeks to organize and create a multi-subject project around the topic that they chose. (If you’re familiar, think Unit Study approach)
Through this process, they are learning, developing, and applying valuable executive functions. They are learning how to research, take notes, site resources, draft and refine research papers, develop and connect a variety of academic components, prepare and deliver verbal presentation, answer questions during a short interview, plan both time and resources, and present their findings in a way that is visually appealing. When these projects are done, students will have much to be proud of!
While this is a school-wide event, each grade level is given age-appropriate instructions and expectations. Teachers provide guidance and benchmarks along the way to help keep students on target and teach good management and planning practices. Students are supported both in school, with class time and resources, and at home with special assignments to help encourage growth and support the process.
The variety of topics and flexibility of the criteria allows each student an opportunity to excel and shine.
Each student must incorporate knowledge from several academic and artistic areas in their final project, except for PreK and Kindergarten who are working to complete class projects. Grade 1 had three required subject areas, 2nd-4th had four required subject areas, and 5th thru high school had five required subject areas. Subjects can vary by student and by project. Subjects might include social studies, history, geography, government, mathematics, literature, science, health, research writing, creative writing, public speaking, visual art, dance, music, drama, and Bible.
The judging criteria is based on content, a verbal interview, creativity, organization and neatness, inclusion of each subject area, and use of different mediums.
Examples Topics and Projects
Primary Grades – Topic: Pets
- Science: poster of a cat with body parts labeled
- Math: a graph of the types of pets owned by each student in school
- Art: a clay model of a bird
- Literature: a display of a scene from a Clifford book
- Bible: a recitation of the versus from the creation story dealing with animals
Upper Elementary – Topic: Benjamin Franklin
- Research writing: a brief biography of Benjamin Franklin
- Science: re-creation of some of his simple experiments with light and sound
- Literature: a poster displaying some proverbs from Poor Richard’s Almanac with illustrations
- Geography: a US map showing cities and counties name for Benjamin Franklin
- Math: a survey and graph of how many people know what Benjamin Franklin invented
Junior High – Topic: Baseball
- Social studies: a Power Point presentation comparing rounder, cricket, US, Cuban, Japanese baseball, and softball
- Research writing: a short opinion paper as to whether Abner Doubleday truly invented baseball
- Science: a video demonstration on how to throw different pitch styles, including audio explanation of why the move the way the do
- Public speaking: recitation of “Casey at the Bat”
- Literature: read a biography and write a book report
High School – Topic: Missions
- Bible: a map and timeline of Paul’s missionary journeys
- Public speaking: a brief ‘sermon’ intended to inspire Christians to get more involved in missions
- Math: multiple pie charts or graphs showing percentages and change in mission impacts over time for various people groups
- Music: a performance of “Onward Christian Soldiers”
- Literature: read a biography on Jim Elliott and write a report
What does the final event look like for our students (and families)?
Our gym is set up Monday, April 10th. Students are asked to bring their completed projects to school Tuesday morning (April 11th). They spend time setting up and practicing answering questions that day.
Wednesday, April 12th, impartial judges will score each project, which will include brief interviews with students. On Wednesday night families are invited to join us from 6pm -7pm to view and enjoy the hard work put in by all!
Students will be asked to stand with their projects from 6:00-6:30. Light refreshments will be available. Students are then free to take their projects home at the end of the night.
We are a community that believes in appropriate recognition for the effort and achievement of our students. We use this opportunity to recognize the immense effort and learning that each student has dedicated to the process with the following awards.
98-100 pts: Trophy
90-97 pts: Blue ribbon
80-89 pts: Red ribbon
78-79 pts: Yellow ribbon
Honorable Mention: Awarded for individual areas of excellence, regardless of overall score
Are these projects a lot of work? YES.
Can it be overwhelming at times? Absolutely.
Is it worth it? Without a doubt.