Tips on Choosing a Science Fair Project

Choosing a science fair project can be daunting. Each fair will have its own criteria and limitations. Each student will have his own interests and abilities. Students who have never entered a science fair before may try an experiment that is to general or too difficult. There are several steps to choosing the correct project and creating a winning display.

Choosing a Science Fair Science Project

Review the instructions and details for the science fair before thinking about a project. Determine if there are space restrictions for the final display, is there electricity available if needed for a demonstration and find out if there are any experiments that are not allowed. Experiments that might not be allowed may involve the use of chemicals, fire or explosions. Once the rules are understood the student should choose a specific science. Experiment ideas are available for many different sciences at websites such as Science Buddies or All Science Fair Projects. Review these sites for ideas as needed.

A good science fair project will have a specific hypothesis that can be measured. Choose a topic that is interesting and do background research. Verify that the hypothesis can be tested. A science experiment that is too general will create too much data or be too difficult to measure.

An example hypothesis that is to general is “What makes objects streamlined?” This experiment would have to many variables to test easily since the type of object, its shape, construction material and weight would all have an impact. An alternative would be the question, “What shape produces the most streamlined rocket?” This experiment would limit the data to one type of object and allow students to design their own rocket.

Tips to use During the Experiment

Review the experiment to make sure the student understands the purpose and will understand the results. Science fair judges ask questions and points will be lost if the student can’t answer them. Students should do all of the work themselves to help their understanding notes Take notes on everything during the experiment, including what went wrong. Record data regularly, particularly if the experiment lasts over several days or weeks. Take pictures or video of the experiment as it is happening. Some experiments, such as the rocket example, cannot be shown at the science fair and a video of the rocket being fired will add interest to the project display.

Creating a Winning Science Fair Display

Choosing and performing the experiment were the first steps, now it is time to display what has been learned. Most science fairs will have specific criteria for what is to be included in the display. Many students use a tri-fold board display and organize their information. Use color in both words and images to create interest in what is being displayed.

The hypothesis should be on the left panel, the experiment details in the center and the results on the right panel unless otherwise specified by the rules. If space is available, a display of the experiment itself will add interest. A laptop computer can be used to show a video of the experiment or a slide show of pictures taken during the experiment. Once the display has been set a quick review of notes will help when a judge asks questions. Verify all data gathered during the experiment is on hand if it is not already on display.

Choosing a winning science fair project can be done at any grade level. Students who are obviously interested and enthusiastic with their entry will be more likely to create a good impression with the judges. The difficulty of the experiment itself is not as important as the students understanding of the experiment and how well this understanding is communicated to the judges.

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