Parent Teacher Organization (PTO)
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1. Establish a date for the Science Fair in mid winter. Recently this has been done in conjunction with the Scholastic Book Fair since both events complement each other. Find out when the book fair will most likely be and then choose Monday of that week as the date for the Science Fair. Communicate this with Maria (the PTO President) and Mr. Maclay.
2. About a month before the Science Fair… Inform the school secretary, Roxann Gill, that you will need to book the All Purpose Room for the Science Fair. The room is booked for all day on Monday to accommodate class walk throughs. Tell her how many tables to order from the district. Usually three tables per grade, three tables for activities and demos, and one table for organizing is enough, so about 22 tables.
3. A major component to the Fair has been demonstrations by the Penn State Gymnastics teams and interactive displays from Penn State science groups. Contact PSU women’s coach Rachelle Thompson, firstname.lastname@example.org at least a month before to see if they are still interested in this outreach opportunity.
4. Regarding PSU science groups, we have had the Penn State Postdoctoral Society do really fun demos where kids can make comets, make “goop”, use a geiger counter to detect radiation and see a 3-D printer. The most recent contact has been Marcia Shu-Wei Su, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, try to reach them about a month before.
5. Three weeks before the Science Fair… Send out the Science Fair information and entry forms via room parent distribution. These forms are forwarded to Maria and Mr. Maclay first for approval and then Maria will send them to room parents. An example of the info/entry form is attached to this email. Also copy the PTO webmaster with all attachments so that they can be uploaded to the science fair webpage.
6. Periodically check the PTO box in the school lobby for completed forms. Sometimes teachers turn in forms at the last minute. Entry deadlines are always flexible (this is just to give you a general idea of how many exhibits there will be) and we will take exhibits right up until the day of the fair!
7. If entries seem a little light two weeks/ten days before the fair, send out another email via room parent distribution summarizing the event and indicate that entries will still be accepted with no deadline specified. Mention that all entry info can be accessed through the webpage and give the link. In this email, communicate the particulars of set up (see below).
8. The week before… Contact Laura Alterio, librarian, and ask her to send an email to the teachers about the fair date and opportunity for class walk throughs. They are free to visit whenever it is convenient.
9. Start making a Science Fair program using the existing entries which are confirmed. Copies of the program are made at UPS - use the PTO account for payment and reference the fair.
10. The night before…
The fair set up is on Sunday evening so that mostly everything is in place for class walk- throughs during the day on Monday. Arrange with Mr. Maclay to have the door open at your specified time (5-7 usually works). The tables will already be stacked in the gym and will need to be set up and configured in six rows of three tables each.Get help with the tables because this at least a two person job. Identify rows by a sign indicating grade. Save at least three tables for the guest demos along the wall because they usually need outlets. As exhibits come in, direct parents to the appropriate location.
11. Not everyone will make the set up time. Before you leave Sunday night, place a sheet of paper with the child’s name on it on the appropriate grade tables where there is empty space. Parents will drop off exhibits early Monday morning and this gives them a location of where to put things.
12. Day of the fair…
Arrive early before school and display the “Welcome to the Science Fair” sign if it is not already up (Anne Kerber has this and will be happy to drop it off on during the set up).Assist parents who are making last minute drop offs.Remain at the AP room to supervise walk throughs.Discourage touching! There have been some exhibits which were broken in the past. Usually Laurel Martin is also at school for walk throughs so she can help supervise if it is not convenient for you.
13. Night of the fair…
Arrive early and set out programs in a box on the desk in front of the gym. People can help themselves. Assist participants who are just now dropping off exhibits (there will be some!) If you were able to arrange a gymnastics team demo, make sure the stage is open and the chairs are moved so they have some space. Offer the gym mats if they need them.
The science groups usually have a ton of supplies which are difficult to carry up all the stairs. Have them park in the upper lot and use the side door to the gym.As the fair winds down and people leave, encourage participants to take their exhibits with them! Promptly at the conclusion of the fair, start breaking down tables and move them to the walls of the gym where you found them. Remaining exhibits are placed on the red table outside the gym grouped according to grade. Use the grade signs to identify where these are so the kids/teachers can retrieve the work.Make sure the gym is in good shape before you leave. The custodians will sweep but the floor should be completely clear of tables, trash, spills, etc.
And there you have it! Science Fair is a great event that the kids really enjoy. Have fun and contact me with any questions!
Anne Kerber, email@example.com, 814 883-0158.