Every child. Thinking critically. Solving problems.


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Getting help

It is okay for parents, teachers, mentors, etc. to help the student, however, the student should drive the project and be present for everything related to their project.

Parents and caregivers can help their young children with typing. When typing, the child should be sitting next to them and dictating to the parents.

Evidence of original work

To ensure that the student’s work is their own, judges look for evidence of original work. Here are some easy ways to prove the child did the work.

From the very beginning, have the student do some of the work in their own handwriting. Even little ones can make simple lists, draw pictures to represent their ideas and steps, and color in graphs. Although parents/caregivers may later choose to help the child format some of these things in a more final form, these notes and rough drafts should be included in the lab notebook.

Tips for parents

Plan out a section for students to complete each week to help them with pacing and time management.

Children often have a short attention span. If parents are helping their child to plan or conduct a part of the experiment, they should stop when the child reaches their limit of focus time. When this occurs, parents can simple say: “Whew, looks like we need a break. Let’s work on this later. Let me know when you are ready.” Then, parents help to adjust the project schedule and encourage them to resume after a break.

Parents should talk to their child about the project in terms of “your project” and what “you did,” and avoid using “We should …” or “our project is about …” This will help the child take ownership and drive their project. In the end, they can then take pride in their accomplishments.

Every child is an individual. Parents should give as much (or as little) help as each child needs to get the project done.

Keep in mind that every great scientist had a mentor — someone to help and encourage.

Additional Help

SARSEF provides many opportunities to receive mentorship or educational outreach. Whether students need a simple consultation or guided research from beginning to end, our programs create those possibilities.

To inquire about mentorships, please contact Margaret Wilch at