I don't remember being in a science fair as a kid. I did a couple of "academic fairs" and always entered in the Language Arts section, but never did a science project.
I decided to encourage our second grader to attend the Washington State Science and Engineering Fair for several reasons.
First,I felt like we needed a bigger goal to work toward. I wanted to see our daughter make steady, long term progress on a project that required more than 30-60 minutes of her time and effort. Completing large projects is an important skill.
Second, I wanted her to feel part of something larger than our home school.
Third,I wanted to inspire her with the wonderful world of science in a way that our texts really can't.
And fourth, I wanted her to have an outlet for her sometimes competitive nature.
I do feel that all of our objectives were met. She did a fantastic job and even said, "wow,science is fun!" several times throughout the experience. You know how that affects us homeschooling parents. :)
Admittedly, the day of the fair itself was entirely exhausting for our family of six. We all went. My husband left work early and took the ferry over the Puget sound with us to the Bremerton Highschool where the fair was held last week. Our little 7 month old baby probably felt it the most. We left the house at 11:30am and returned home at 11pm. And that was because we left the second session of judging EARLY!!
Still, there is something to be said about sharing these experiences all together. It helps to have the younger ones witness the process and gear themselves up for the day when they can participate too. (I do have feedback for the organizers on the scheduling however....)
If there is a science fairinyour area, I'd strongly encourage you to look into participating. If you can't find one, think about organizing one,even if it's a small affair with just your coop. Need a venue? Check with your local YMCA to see if they can lend you a room for the occasion. You could even do an online science fair! And post all of your projects on a common blog. Why not??
Our daughter placed second in her grade. She felt good about her work. She met some great people, saw some great displays, learned some great study skills, and maybe even learned a little science along the way!