Creative Ideas for Middle School Science Fair Projects

So, you're trying to think of a science fair project and you've already taken the first step, which is deciding not to build a volcano or a mobile of the Solar System. Now what? Well, if you've got an older brother or sister you could take their old project out of the attic and try and pass it off as your own, but that doesn't seem like much fun, and the teachers would probably recognize it anyway. Oh yeah, and that's totally dishonest and misses the point of choosing your own project, which is to pick something that you are interested in – something that you are excited about learning.

If you don't pick a subject that you are passionate about, you'll simply be going through the motions, rather than creating a unique project that you can really call your own. Whatever project you choose, the key is to have fun doing it, and in the end, be able to demonstrate what you’ve learned, and be able to pass that learning on to others. One thing to keep in mind about science fair projects is that it is not the most outrageous projects that are the most effective, but rather the ones that pay close attention to detail and follow the scientific method most effectively.

This short list of ideas is meant not only to offer you a few great ideas of projects you can choose, but also to help inspire you to think of your own ideas.

Make a Battery out of a Fruit or Vegetable

Your experiment will be based on the idea of electricity and current. You'll be experimenting with making electricity using only a potato, a lime, or other fruits or vegetables, two pennies, two galvanized nails, insulated copper wire, and a small electrical piece of equipment which has wires attached to it that can be manipulated to be powered by a potato- a digital travel clock or small light would work well.

Your demonstration will be amazing – a potato powering a small light or digital clock? Too cool! You can also find out which foods produce the most power, demonstrating the brightness of the light with different foods.

Your challenge: To find out how a potato can actually do this! You'll need to discover how to use these simple items to create power from food. Once found out how to make it work, the big question to answer is: Why does it work? What's the science behind it?

Experimenting with Gravity

Your experiment will be based on the idea of gravity, you know, the whole 9.8 meters per second thing.

Your demonstration will be fun to watch & a little messy (when is messy not fun?). It involves a cup or small jug filled with water. You pop two holes in the sides of the cup/jug right at the bottom so the water starts to pour out the sides. This is where it gets exciting! You drop the cup and witness what happens to the water that was coming out the holes as the cup falls. Does the water keep coming out the holes, or does it stop? Why?

Your challenge: Besides finding a way to do this without flooding the school, your challenge is to explain why the water in the cup reacts the way it does. I'm not going to spoil the experiment for you by telling you what happens. If this sounds interesting to you, try it out. It only takes a few minutes to run the experiment. The work will be discovering why it happens, and then explaining the results to others.

How Does a Boomerang Work?

Your experiment will be based on aerodynamics and the conditions of the atmosphere near the Earth.

Your demonstration can be a detailed description of aerodynamics, then take it a step further to explain what makes the unique flight of a boomerang possible. It may also be interesting to go into the history of the boomerang as well as finding other technologies which utilize these same basic principles.

Your challenge: As easy as it may seem, getting a boomerang to come back to you is no easy task. You may also want to try your hand at making your own boomerang to see how well yours stacks up against a professionally made boomerang.

Does singing/talking to plants really make them grow better?

Your experiment will definitely be one of the more eccentric projects in the science fair, bringing together your love of plants and your love of singing and talking. This is a perfect project for an illustration of your understanding of the scientific method. Another variation is to play classical music for a set of plants to see if that has any effect.

Your demonstration will be a lovely display of your plants. One idea is to have the viewers guess which plant was sung or talked to before showing them the results.

Your challenge: Following the scientific method properly so that your results are legitimate, and trying to find out what songs or stories the plants like the most!

What Causes a Sneeze, a Belch, the Hiccups and Flatulence?

Have you ever been taken seriously when talking about passing gas? Well, if you can do it without laughing, here’s your big chance! Of course, you’re going to have to learn to pronounce the word “flatulence.”

Discover the science behind these common bodily functions that everyone can relate to, but not many can explain. This is a fun way to learn about anatomy and biology, and it may be one of the more talked about projects at the fair!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these ideas, and perhaps they’ve helped inspire you to come up with your own ideas! I have articles with suggestions for other age groups as well. Some of the ideas overlap, but you’ll see some new ones as well. Maybe you can simplify or expand on an idea from one of the other age groups. Remember, the most important thing is that you choose a project that you'll enjoy learning about and teaching to others. Of course, you can always build a volcano or a mobile of the Solar System.