How to do a Science Fair project

Pick something that you enjoy.  Just about anything can be turned into a science fair project.  There are many categories of science that projects can fit into.  Do you like music, building things, cars?  There are projects for you.  There are even projects for shopping and cooking.  Find something you like and then design a project around it.  If you don’t want to do that try “googling” science fair projects.  Two of the best sites are www.all-science-fair-projects.com and www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects.  All projects should follow the scientific method.

The steps of the scientific method are to: 
  • Ask a Question
  • Do Background Research
  • Construct a Hypothesis
  • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
  • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
  • Communicate Your Results

Once you get your idea and your question, the next step is to fill out your paperwork.  There is a form to fill out for the homeschool fair.  Next there are forms for the ISEF which is the International Science and Engineering Fair. These forms are required for all projects.  You can find the forms here. Most projects need forms 1, 1a, 1b, including a research plan, and some also require form 3.  Most of these forms are just your project in miniature.  Some of the forms just need signatures.  If you need help with these forms it is best to email Lora. There are additional forms for working with human subjects, vertebrate animals, potentially hazardous biological agents and hazardous chemicals.  If you are not sure whether your project falls into these areas, please contact me. The forms for special projects need to be in by November 1st.   

There are four parts to your project.  The first is a log book.  The log book shows all your work.  It shows your research.  It shows your tables and graphs. It shows an analysis of your results. Each day that you work on your project whether it is reading or researching or performing your experiment should be logged in your book with that days date.  It is important that you do not erase in your notebook.  Just cross it out once and make your correction.  It is important for your judges to see mistakes as well as things that are correct.  Also do not tear out pages for the same reason.   You may want to keep a separate folder of any articles they read.  Any notes they took went into their notebook with that days date.

There is a research paper.  For young kids like in grades K-2 one or two pages is probably good.  For grades 3-5, three or four pages are a good length.  Once kids get to be in grades 6-12, just use as many pages as needed to cover your subject.  In your report should be the following:

Abstract—a summary of your project in 250 words or less.  An abstract should include the purpose of your experiment, the procedure used, your data and your conclusions.  It should not include any acknowledgements or any work done by a mentor.  

Introduction and purpose—if you have any background information about your project, you can include it here.  List your question.   If you have a purpose that you chose this particular experiment, you can include it in this section.

Hypothesis—Included in this section is what you think will happen and why.

Materials and Procedures—A list of materials for your experiment followed by your procedures.  Your procedures should be numbered in order.

Results and Discussion—This section includes your data in chart form and your graphs.  Then in words, please describe your graphs including all your data. 

Conclusion—Your conclusion should be just a few sentences.  The first sentence should be “My hypothesis was right” or “My hypothesis was wrong.”  Then explain why.

A display board is necessary.  Most people use a trifold presentation board made of cardboard or foam board.  Boards can be 36 x 48 or larger boards are available at 48 x 48.  You can have a taller board than this but there are limits.  You also risk the chance that your judge will not be able to see the top of your board and lose points.  Your display board is going to have the same categories as your research paper.  You will have to increase the font size so that it can be read easily from a distance.  This is where you can show creativity and design.  It is important to note that you cannot have your name on your board or your report.  There are some restrictions to your display.  You cannot have any food items in your display and that includes water.  Also you cannot have any chemicals in your display.  If you have a question, contact me.

Your presentation to the judges is just explaining everything that is on your board.  The judge will have already read your paper.  Papers get turned in to the fair 10 days early so that the papers can be sent to the judges.  Judges get a week to be able to read your work before the fair so that they can have a list of questions to ask you.  Please make sure that your board is neat and organized.   Please also dress nice and neat for your judges.