Dear Students & Parents,
Let us begin by saying that
we are all very fortunate teachers to have the opportunity to be at SSA
teaching our students. Our students are remarkably inquisitive,
motivated, responsible, passionate, organized, and dedicated. Such
students make this job more like a hobby than work. It is our goal that
your student will see his or her science education also as fun, rather than a
choir. This is the intent of a science research project -- To provide an opportunity for your child to
enjoy doing science.
As you are well aware,
Sonoran Science Academy is exactly that: a science academy. We
hope that is why you chose to send your student here. Here at SSA, we are
proud to offer students the opportunity and support to explore their own
science research questions and compete academically. Current education
research strongly supports student-centered pedagogy that engages students,
allows them to inquire about their world, explore their world, and come up with
explanations for what they observe. An old Chinese proverb states, “You
tell me, I’ll forget, you show me, I may remember, you have me do it, I’ll
understand”. What better way to learn science than to do science? The
closest experience that your student can ever get to learning science is by
doing a science fair project.
For this reason, it is
mandatory for all students starting at 3rd grade to complete a science fair
project. Qualifying projects will be judged at the school fair to
represent SSA at the Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair
(SARSEF). Many other students will be selected to attend the Arizona
State Science Fair (AzSEF) and perhaps get invited to other national science fair
competitions. In just the past 2 years, four 8th grade students were
selected from SSA to be student observers at the Intel ISEF, and last year, a
freshman was selected as an ISEF Finalist who ended up winning 4th place in the
world. These achievements help our students get into the top colleges and
also receive top scholarships. We are hoping to support the next
generation of SSA to reach their goals.
Students are strongly encouraged to discuss their projects with experts in
their field of interest. Some high level projects may require a mentor.
According to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), “The
student researcher is responsible for all aspects of the research project
including enlisting any needed supervisory adults, obtaining necessary
approvals, following Rules and Guidelines of the ISEF, and doing the
experimentation, engineering, data analysis, etc involved in the projects”.
Experts and mentors can assist students in the design and implementation of the
Some students may want to do a project that imposes hazards. According to
the ISEF rules, preliminary documentation is required to ensure the safety of
the students and others. Students who are considering projects that
involve vertebrate animals, potentially hazardous biological agents, human
subjects, controlled substances and/or hazardous devices and substances will be
required to submit Scientific Research Committee (SRC) forms to SARSEF SRC
board. These forms can be found on SARSEF’s website (www.sarsef.org).
For parents with MS students, we ask that you encourage your child and monitor
his or her progress along the way. Look at the due dates and descriptions for
each part of the project given to the student by their teacher; it is important
to turn in the work on time to ensure that your student can receive helpful
feedback before they finalize each part of their project. Students often want
to work in pairs. Consult your child’s science teacher to see if their
course allows this.
More information will be given to students throughout the semester. Each
family will also have access to the information via their science teacher’s
website and through the International Science and Engineering Fair’s website (www.societyforscience.org/isef).
We look forward to watching your child enjoy this unique opportunity for
scientific discovery! We hope to see you at when we display projects to
the public at Discovery Night on February 12th, 2011.
The Science Department