School Room Library: Science Fair Projects

What is a Science Fair Project?

A science fair project is a submitted project that visibly shows the attempt to answer a scientific question by research, planning, and the application of the scientific method. Scientists use the scientific method as the process for conducting the steps between problem recognition and arriving at a conclusion. Sometimes the conclusions turn out to negate the hypothesis, but this can be good. Science is more that proving what is, it is also about proving what is not. A negative conclusion to a science fair project does not mean a failed project. Don’t get discouraged if this is the case. Remember, Galileo proved the earth was not flat. The process of the scientific method includes identifying a problem, formulating a hypothesis, conducting research, performing experiments, and arriving at a conclusion.

Choose your science category, such as physical science, or earth science, biology, astronomy – whatever! Then pick a topic within that category and do some investigating. What question do you have that you’d like to find an answer? If you do not have any ideas, start doing some research. Judges are more impressed by original projects so if you find a project you really like, add your own unique twist.

What’s the Problem?

The problem is…the question your experiment will attempt to answer! 

Your concept of what will happen prior to experimenting is your hypothesis. Then you get to experiment. First, further research will help you to design and plan the actual experiments, as well as the actual testing. Be sure every action you make is documented! Others need to be able to see and understand what you’ve done, so use charts and graphs to plot all of your activities and the outcomes. Taking photos to show each stage of your experiment is a good idea, too, and makes a great addition to your display.

The variables are what can influence your experiment. The independent variable is the one that YOU intentionally change. The dependent variable is the one that you are observing, which may or may not change in response to the changes you make to your independent variable.

So, what have you learned from this experiment? That’s your conclusion. Was your hypothesis correct? Is additional work necessary? What additional work would you do?

In time, you’ll need to give your project a name, and try to be a little clever, if you can. A title in the form of a question can also raise interest.

How to Choose your Science Fair project:

  1. Make a list of your favorite things to study in science class, like biology, or nuclear energy, or agriculture, etc. Then after investigation and research, determine your project topic. 
  2. Decide what materials will you need for your experiment, and do you have those materials at home? It will be helpful to you and to your parents if the materials you need are inexpensive and can be found easily.
  3. If you need more information to finish your project, check out your school’s library or community’s public library.

Creating a Winning Display

Your school may have established certain limitations regarding the size of science fair displays, so check with your teacher or fair representative. Are there any guidelines as to the shape or style of displays? That’s also a good question to ask, BEFORE you begin to put your together. Ask if you will have access to electricity, just in case you end up incorporating some sort of lighting, or other component that requires electrical power, into your display.

The simpler a display, the easier it will be to transport it to and from the location of the science fair.

Let the headlines tell the story – Try to be concise in your descriptions and let the headlines of the different stages of your experimentation tell the story for you. Check your spelling! There’s nothing worse than a science project you’ve worked hard on, only to discover there’s a word misspelled within your display.

Using visual aids, like charts, diagrams, and graphs will help draw people to your project. Photos and drawings can help to illustrate your activities.

Be neat! A computer is a great tool for making those charts, graphs, and diagrams, but if you don’t have access to one, try a ruler and stencils that could be effective as alternatives. If using a pencil, be sure to go over any lines with a marker that will be dark enough for people to easily see.

Your materials should be safe, and durable to withstand being set up and taken down possibly several times. All materials that you use for your display must meet the safety standards of your school.

Other materials that can have visual appeal for your display is magazine or newspaper articles on information related to your experiment. Brochures and other print materials can be added to the area surrounding your display.

Refer to these links for ideas, resources, and other information to help you with your science fair project. Good luck!

What is a good science fair project – Here, students will learn that a science fair project is his/her experiment that proves their hypothesis. This also tells parents, teachers, and science fair judges what to look for. 

The Scientific Method vs. Engineering Design Process  - This site helps serious students decipher which method is the better one for the intended project.

What are YOU doing for the Science Fair? – Loads of links to science fair project ideas!

I don’t have a clue! – Then take a look at this site for tons of ideas for your science fair project.

Planning Your Project – This link provides a nearly endless list of reference sources for planning your Science Fair project.

Need some ideas? – Take a look at this website for some ideas and how-to’s for possible science fair experiments.

Think yours is a winner? – Visit this site to sign up for the 2012 Google Science Fair, and info on the winning projects and students in 2011.

For Science Fair First-Timers – This site will lead students to pages and pages of links that give all sorts of ideas for science fair projects.

Spin to Find a Topic – No gambling here with a ho-hum science fair project. Spin the computer wheel until you hit an idea you like, then press the button for the how-to information.

Science News – This is a USA Today site of science news written by professional science reporters.

Where Do I Start? – Have a look at this site for some ideas and resources for creating a great science project.

Experimenting in Psychology – Teachers will find this site to be a resource when their students choose to compete in science fairs (locally, regionally, and nationally) on the topic of psychology.

Just DO it! – This link provides teachers, parents, and kids with activities for science class and at home…and even at a restaurant table while waiting for your order!

How to Survive your Science Fair – Help, advice, and plenty of ideas, plus a look at some of the more popular science fair projects.

Q & A – Do any of these questions entice you to make them your science fair project?

Good and Plenty – Hundreds of science fair project ideas in several student age ranges.

Hundreds of Ideas – Check out this site for cool, fun, winning science fair project ideas!

Only for the Movers and Shakers – Great ideas for science fair projects from US Geological Survey.

A Taste for Science? – Ideas for science projects with an agricultural flavor.

Kids’ Projects – Demos and ideas for science fair projects, from low to high difficulty.

A Project That Will Make You a Star – Visit this site for science fair projects on the solar system and the universe.

Munch on These Ideas – All kinds of links to “Science Snacks” worth considering for your science fair project.

Give This a Try – Choose your area of interest then check out all the ideas for possible science fair projects.

Be Green at Your Science Fair – Lots of links to energy-related project ideas.

Environment-Friendly – Find lots of links here to all kinds of environment-related projects for your science fair project.

Facts About Nuclear Energy – Animated pals Newt, Enrico, and their friends help you learn about nuclear energy, and give you some experiments to try.

Helpful Tools – Teachers and students will find a wealth of resources here, as well as links to other sites for science fair project ideas.

Experimentation Nation! – Pick a science category and then see which questions interest you. Teachers and parents will find information here, too.

Adventures in Science – Find a project of interest in this alphabetized list of ideas.

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas! – Here’s a site where you can buy and then print the directions for conducting all kinds of age-appropriate experiments.

Gold Mine – An incredible number of links, connecting you with possibly several hundred science fair project ideas.

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