Science Fair Survival Package

Science Fair Survival Package

(with special thanks to D.Ross for preparing this science fair package)

What Makes a Good Project?
As kids and parents think about Science Fair projects, they sometimes wonder how to pick a topic - not how to find an idea, but how to decide if the idea is a good one.

1. You are interested in the topic - it's something you like to think about.
· There are hundreds of websites online. You can go to and type in “science fair ideas” and you will find many. Make sure you do a project that matches your grade level. Making a volcano is at about Grade 3. You can also ask your teacher for comments on your ideas.

2. You can do a test to find an answer to a question.
· A good Science Fair project is an experiment - that means it's a test to find an answer to a question you have.
· Don't do demonstrations or simple reports - those don't use the scientific method.

3. You can do it with only a little help from parents, teachers and friends.

· Having someone else help too much takes away some of your fun and you don't learn as much.
· Don't be afraid to ask for help if you really need it.

4. It doesn't hurt or scare people or animals, including you.
· It is against the rules of our science fair and of the regional science fair to hurt or badly scare people or animals as part of an experiment.

5. It's a project that, even when you are done with it, makes you think of new things you want to know.
· Did doing the project, or reading or seeing what happened make you think of other questions you are curious about?



The steps in the experimental scientific method as usually presented are: Observation, Hypothesis, Controlled Experiment, Conclusion. To actually do a science experiment, many more steps are needed. The following more accurately reflects the course of an actual experimental investigation as stated by David Morano.

Initial Observation
· The first step is to clearly write down exactly what you have observed.

Information Gathering
· Read books, magazines or ask professionals who might know in order to learn about the effect or area of study.
· Keep track of where you got your information from.

Title the Project
· The title should be short and summarize what the investigation will deal with.
State the Purpose of the Project
· Write a statement that describes what you want to do. Use your observations and questions to write the statement.

Identify Variables
· Based on your gathered information, make an educated guess about what types of things affect the system you are working with.

Form a Hypothesis
· A hypothesis is a question that has been reworded into a form that can be tested by an experiment.
· There is usually one hypothesis for each question you have.
· You must do at least one experiment to test each hypothesis. This is a very important step.

Design Experiments to Test Your Hypothesis

· For an experiment to give answers you can trust, it must have a "control."
A control is a neutral "reference point" for comparison that allows you to see what changing a variable does by comparing it to not changing anything.
· Experiments are often done many times to guarantee that what you observe is reproducible, or to obtain an average result.
Some Guidelines for Experimental Procedures
· Select only one thing to change in each experiment. Things that can be changed are called variables.
· Change something that will help you answer your questions. The procedure must tell how you will change this one thing.
· The procedure must explain how you will measure the amount of change. Each experiment should have a "control" for comparison that you can see what the change actually did.

Obtain Materials and Equipment
· Make a list of the things you need to do the experiment, and prepare them.
Do the Experiments and Record Data
· As you do experiments, record all numerical measurements made.
· If you are not making any measurements, you probably are not doing an experimental science project.

Record Your Observations
· Observations can be written descriptions of what you noticed during an experiment, or problems encountered.
· Keep careful notes of everything you do and everything that happens.

Perform Calculations
· Do any calculations needed from your raw data to obtain the numbers you need to draw your conclusions.

Draw Conclusions
· Using the trends in your experimental data and your experimental observations, try to answer your original questions.

Other Things You Can Mention in the Conclusion
· If your hypothesis is not correct, what could be the answer to your question?
· Summarize any difficulties or problems you had doing the experiment.
· Do you need to change the procedure and repeat your experiment?
· What would you do different next time?
· List other things you learned

Exhibition Categories

Please select an idea that will fit into one of the following categories:

  • The Computational and Mathematical Sciences project deals with computer hardware or software innovation, or both.
  • The Engineering Sciences project involves the design and/or physical construction of some device, appliance, machine or process that has an application.
  • The Life Sciences project involves biology, zoology, botany or aspects of pure or applied medicine.
  • The Physical Sciences project is related to physics or chemistry. Its primary objective is a consideration of the cause and effect of some abiotic process or activity.
  • The Earth and Environmental Sciences project has as its focus either a topic related to planetary processes or the relationships of organisms to those processes, or between or among organisms. Projects in this category would include the fields of geology, mineralogy, physiology, oceanography, limnology, climatology, seismology, geography or ecology.
  • The Biotechnology project demonstrates the application of knowledge of biological systems to solve a problem, create a product or provide a service in one of three subject fields: crop development, animal science or microbials.