Every year, some parents are left wondering just why their young student is put through the rigors of the annual science fair. Doing a project so large and overwhelming as this is certainly a struggle for anyone, much less someone who is so young and inexperienced. Science fair teachers and judges have their reasoning, however, and that should not be something that we, as parents, ignore.
The purpose of a science fair is two-fold. The first, and probably most important element to it is that this project is meant to encourage the student to make a distinction between scientific thought and reasoning, and psuedo-science. Creating the project and making it work should (hopefully) help make the distinction clear when the student first starts trying to do projects that either do not prove their hypothesis, or test multiple variables. Teachers love this kind of thing, because even if it provides your student with a bad result, it is something that they will learn from and, in the future, they can create much better projects, or recognize rational thought.
The secondi purpose of this assignment is to prepare your students for high school and college level work. Science fairs are probably the most large and impressive assignments your students will ever have to do in their grammar school or middle school years, so it is imperative that they do a good job with this particular project. It will give them experience at a young age of organizing and researching a large project, and that will help them in the future to do better on those big assignments.
Overall, while it may seem like a major hassle, doing a science fair project is incredibly important. There is so much that goes into the project that it seems overwhelming, but really, it is meant to be that way. Every step along the way, from the selection of the topic, to the design of the experiment, doing the research, writing the paper, creating the project board and participating in the fair is designed to be a learning experience that will teach your child two very important life skills.