• Doing a Science Fair Project

    We are excited that you are planning to do a Science Fair Project.  We hope you are excited too.  This page is a checklist of steps you can take, with lots of useful information, to help you do a great project.  You can print it out and use it to check things off as you go.
     
    ___  Step 1: (do this right after the last science fair)  Get a laboratory notebook (or journal).  For information on what this should contain click on this link:  Laboratory Notebook.
     
    ___  Step 2:  Jot down in your laboratory notebook ideas for potential projects for next year.  Write them all down as they come to you.  Some may be too difficult for you, some may not be good projects, but some will be great ideas.  Continue to write down ideas until it is time for Step 3.  Ideas may come from books in the library, internet resources, friends and relatives, and things that you see that you want to know more about.
     
    ___  Step 3:  (Do this 3 to 4 months before the next science fair.  Usually this would be sometime in the fall after school starts, some projects may actually take a whole year)  Choose your project from your list.  This is a very important step.
    ___  Step 3A:  The most important thing in a science project is to do something you want to know more about.  This is a gret motivation for you, and it will result in a more successful project.  Don't do one because someone else wants you to do it, do it because YOU want to do it.
     
    ___  Step 3B:  Projects that are an experiment do better at the Science Fairs.  But, if you want to know more about something, and it is a demonstration or a research style project, do it anyway.  Having fun and learning something new is more important than the fair itself.  We look forward to seeing what you have learned.
     
    ___  Step 3C:  Pick something unusual.  Often the better projects are experiments on things that the judges have never seen before.  If the experiment is based on something that has happened to you in your life, then it is likely to be unusual.

    ___  Step 4:  Note your selection in your laboratory notebook, and start to follow the process.  For more information on the process you should follow, click on this link:  The Scientific Method.  You should write an Objective for your project in your laboratory notebook.

    ___  Step 5:  Think about what you think will happen when you run your experiment.  Write this down as your Hypothesis in your laboratory notebook.

    ___  Step 6:  Research your topic.  It is likely that there is information about your Objective out there on the internet.  Do some searches, check the library. and see what you can find.  You should understand the science behind your work.

    ___  Step 7:  Gather your materials; everything you will need to do your experiment.  Be sure to write them all into your laboratory notebook.

    ___  Step 8:  Decide on your process.  What are the steps you will do to perform your experiment.  Write these into your laboratory notebook.

    ___  Step 9:  Do your experiments.  There are many things you need to consider when you perform the experiment:

    ___  Step 9A:  How many repetitions do I need to do?  The goal is to do enough repetitions that if you get some bad data you will be able to throw it out.  The number depends on your project.  If you re doing an engineering project, you may build something.  The repetitions for this project would be modifications that you make to make it work better.  There may be only a few.  If you are growing plants from seeds, you may have as many as 10 seeds per each test case.  Seeds are very variable.

    ___  Step 9B:  Controlling your variables.  When you do an experiment, you want to change one thing and measure the effect it has on a variable you are measuring.  ALL other variables must be kept constant.  They should be the same for each test case.
     
    ___  Step 9C:  When you take measurements, be as accurate as you can.  Note what your accuracy is.  For example, if you are measuring the length or height of something, and you are using a typical 12-inch rule, you probably can measure to 1/2 the smallest scale shown,  For the rule on my desk, it shows marking every 1/16th of an inch, so my accuracy could be half that or 1/32 of an inch.
     
    ___  Step 9D:  Always record the units for all measurements.
     
    ___  Step 9E:  Write all of your data including the units into your laboratory notebook.
    ___  Step 10:  Turn your Data into Information.  While the data is very important, it is not always obvious what information is hidden in your data.  To see trends and patterns in our data, we often use graphs to show trends.  Include these graphs in your laboratory notebook.
     
    ___  Step 11:  Evaluate your hypothesis.  Did your data support your hypothesis or were you wrong?  This is your Conclusion.  Note it in your laboratory notebook.  It is okay if you were wrong.
     
    ___  Step 12:  (about 2 weeks before the Science Fair) Prepare your display.  Most people use a trifold display made of cardboard.  It should be organized in an orderly and logical manner.  The Display Board
     
     
    All of this information should be in your laboratory notebook, and can be just copied into the display.  It does not need to be typed, it can be hand written, but it should be neat and easy to read.  Students often artistically enhance their display boards.
     
    ___  Step 13:  Practice.  Get a parent, older sibling, or a friend to ask you questions so that you will be ready for the judges.  Do NOT practice a rehearsed speech.  You may not have time to give it, and the judges would really rather ask you questions.  As you move on to Regionals (7th grade and up) there is a place for rehearsed presentations and handouts.
     
    ___  Step 14:  Bring your project to the Science Fair.  Some useful information follows:
    • Follow the fair rules.  Do not bring anything alive or dangerous.  Do not bring food, liquids or glass.
    • You may bring snacks and things to drink.
    • You may bring a chair if they are not provided.
    • Bring a book to read while you wait.
    • Sit quietly and stay at your project.  Do not bother other students, their projects, or the judges.
    • When it is your turn...  Speak clearly to the judge,  Answer any questions he/she may ask.  Tell them what you did.
    • At elementary, we usually will sit down with the students, but at secondary fairs and the Regional Fair, most students stand up to explain their work.
    • Do not read from the display.  
    • At the elementary level, do not give a prepared speech.  At secondary level a prepared speech is more typical.
    • You will NOT have the opportunity to demonstrate your experiment.
    • Relax and have fun.
    • Remember:  You did the project.  Therefore, you are the expert.

    ___  Step 15:  Write ideas for next year's project in your laboratory notebook.