Examining the Impact of Science Fairs in a Mexican-American Community

Elaine Hampton, Miguel Licona

Abstract


This study is a critical examination of the traditional educational practice of participating in science fairs in the elementary and middle schools. The research was conducted in a Texas community near the Mexican border where most of the students’ home language is Spanish, and most of the families are low- to middle-income laborers and working class. High-school students and university seniors majoring in education provided insight via their memories of their participation in science fairs as well as observations of the science fair process at local elementary and middle schools. The evidence suggests that, especially for border students, the science fair experience in the schools is often a detrimental practice that perpetrates traditional reductionist views of science and that involvement in the science fair was preventing many students from enjoying science and achieving science understanding.

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