Fair showcases specialists,
experts, even geniuses
By Linda Petersen
Apr. 12, 2018
EPHRAIM—What can make students more satisfied than participating in something they enjoy, are curious about and is not required?
That’s what 130 Ephraim Elementary students feel—quite satisfied—after participating in the school’s annual Jr. Genius Fair on Friday, April 6.
For months, students from kindergarten to fifth grade have been preparing for the fair, which is much more than a science fair.
Participation in the Jr. Genius Fair is optional. This extracurricular activity is designed to teach students how to research a topic of their choice.
With no requirements or even guidelines, students get to choose what they’re interested in or passionate about.
This year those topics ranged from Star Wars to chocolate.
Students check out books or videos from the school library, and Shauna Wayman, the school’s librarian and the event’s organizer, helps students negotiate the internet to find what they are looking for.
As they prepare their topic, students can choose to attain various levels based on the depth of their research.
To earn the level of Specialist, students read four books, one magazine article, one encyclopedia entry, look up one internet reference and complete two out of 10 other activities that will help them learn more about their topic.
For the Expert level, students read six books, two magazine articles, one encyclopedia entry, two internet references and complete four out of the 10 activities.
For the level of Genius, students read eight books, two magazine articles, one encyclopedia entry, three internet references and complete six of the 10 activities.
Those activities each must relate to their chosen topic and include watching a movie or TV program, visiting an information place, interviewing a knowledgeable person, making a short book or pamphlet, finding a club or group, writing a poem, making up a PowerPoint presentation or movie, trying to stump the principal with a question, giving an oral presentation to their class or making up a game, puzzle or word search.
Each student participating in the program makes a display about their topic and presents it during the Jr. Genius Fair.
“We have some wonderful and amazing displays each year at the fair, and I’m always impressed with how much a student knows about their topic,” Wayman said. “They are excited to answer any question you have when you visit their display. It’s a great way to motivate kids to read, learn and research a topic that interests them,”
This year there were 85 displays (students can work in teams of two or three if they choose). Many get really into it, dressing up in costumes.
This year’s subjects also included slime, Helen Keller, scorpions (the student caught wild scorpions and displayed them in a cage), pets, rocks, crystals, buffalo skeleton, sharks, mountain men, the Titanic and tropical birds.
Principal Gannon Jones visits every display and asks students questions about their topic.
“It’s amazing how well they know their topic,” Wayman said. “They know enough information from their research that they are always able to stump him with a question.”
At the end of the day, participants each get a special Jr. Genius treat. They are also recognized with certificates at the end of the school year.