Planning a Good Science Fair Project
Doing a First-Class Project
A first-class science fair project has four major features:
All four features are equally important. The following will help you to
plan and complete your project.
An original, high quality, scientific experiment
Clearly and neatly displayed results and conclusions
An attention-attracting display
A scientific paper that tells everything about your project.
Making a Timetable
It might sound silly now, but a good project has to be started, and
started soon! It also needs to be finished.
Find or make a calendar to write critical dates and information on.
Mark the dates of your schoolís science fair and the Flint Area Fair. Cross
off days planned for family, club activities, and trips. Working back from
the project due date, allow at least two weeks to write the final draft
of your paper and create your display. Mark off a week for your rough draft
and allow a few days for your teacher to review it.
You need a large block of time to collect your data. Plants and seeds
need weeks to sprout and grow. Are you planning to chart an activity for
a month? Even simple experiments donít work as you might expect them to
the first time, or the second, or even the third time! Check off how much
time you will need to collect your data at least twice.
You are working backwards, so schedule a couple of weeks for library
work, to write companies, or borrow equipment. Make time to fill out the
application. It should be mailed at least a week before you begin to collect
your data. Completed forms should be reviewed with your adult sponsor,
so add a week to your time frame. If you feel that you should have started
two months ago, you may wish to narrow your topic for this year, and pick
a long-range topic for next year. Many scholarship winners begin their
projects during the summer.
Using the Scientific Method
Good scientists, young and old, study things they see in the world
by looking for cause and effect. The scientific method tells how this is
done. A guide to the method is included in this handbook. Follow this method
and produce your own high quality scientific experiment.
Writing About Your Project
You will invest a lot of time and effort in your project. A bit more
work will result in a first-class scientific paper. Use the guide in this
handbook and write at least two drafts. Some of the first draft is written
before and while you complete the experiment.
Presenting Your Project
Your hard work will not be noticed if your project does not grab the
attention of the judges and the public. From among the hundreds of projects,
yours must yell, ìHello, Judge. Look at me!"
Efforts that are appreciated and rewarded are:
A. Well Organized Display
Your project wonít be seen if your display falls apart during the Fair
weekend. Itís okay to ask an adult for help. Do not construct your display
using ONLY posterboard and tape. It will not stand up longer than a few
Arrange the presentation of your project so the judges can easily examine
and understand the experiment and results. With one quick glance, a viewer
should find the five necessary parts of your display: the title, the hypothesis,
how you did your experiment, the data, and the conclusions. Even if you
are very familiar with your topic and your work, when the judges first
see it, they have no idea what your project is all about! Your display
must fit the given exhibit space. (See Rules and Regulations page.)
B. An Appropriate Title
Your title is what the judges see first. It should be more than a beginning.
A good title grabs the attention of the casual observer. It is short, yet
it correctly and completely describes the entire project. A good title
begs the people to look at the project and dig deeper. Do not disappoint
them. The title should tell exactly what your project is really about.
It should agree with, and might even be the question that you develop in
part E of the Scientific Method.
C. Well Presented, Appropriate Data
Home built equipment, neat and colorful headings, graphs and tables
draw attention to your project. The careful use of contrasting colors helps.
For filling in charts and bar graphs, construction paper cutouts look better
than crayon colored white paper. For line graphs, use different colored
markers instead of pencils.
Give extra attention to the labeling of graphs, charts, diagrams, and
tables. Each item must have its own descriptive title, with columns, axes,
and data clearly labeled and identified. A person should be able to understand
each graph without having to read your paper. Since bar graphs, line graphs,
and pie charts have different purposes, ask your math teacher to make sure
you have the right graph to display your type of data.
D. Correctly presented, well constructed
Construct your display observing size limitations, safety regulations,
and the rules in this handbook. Do not clutter the project with unrelated
junk and references. If humans are used include the informed consent forms.
The use of animals requires humane treatment and special forms that you
should request now. Animals cannot be used in your display. (Read
the safety rules carefully).
Light to medium duty display boards are available at local office supply
stores. Made from corrugated cardboard that is white on one side, these
boards have two folding wings for stability, and open to the legal project
size. One company also offers packages of commonly used words like ìconclusionsî
in colored plastic letters for about a dollar. Request source information
from a local teacher supply store.
Some Available Resources:
Science Fair and Projects Grades 712
Published by the National Science Teachers Association
1840 Wilson Blvd., Arlington VA 22201 (703) 243-7100
How to Prepare a Science Fair Project (Videotape)
Published by United Learning (800) 424-0362
1001 Ideas for Science Projects
Published by Prentice Hall General Reference
5 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023
The Big Book of Nature Projects
Published by Thames and Hudson
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
How to Implement the Science Fair Self-Help Development Program in Schools
Published by David Menicucci, Science Fair Faciltator
Sandia National Laboratories, Organ, 6216
Albuquerque, NM 87185 (505) 844-3077
The Complete Handbook of Science Fair Projects
(Revised Edition)Published by John Wiley and Sons
605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158-0012
Computers: 49 Science Fair Projects
Science For Kids: 39 Easy Animal Biology Experiments
Science Fair: Developing a Successful and Fun Project
All three books published by TAB Books
Blue Ridge Summit, PA 17294-0850