for Selecting a Topic:
An important factor in
selecting a topic is to find one in which the student has sufficient
interest to sustain the project from beginning to end. Some science
fair projects continue from one year to the next, some are completed
in several months, and some can be completed in a few weeks. In general
the older the student the more time and effort should be invested
in the project.
world issues with local significance are good topics. Ideas for
such topics may be found in newspaper articles, from radio or television
programs, in books, or through conversations. Asking a question
which has not yet been answered or which has immediacy for the
student will attract the interest of the judges and creativity
can be shown in developing an experiment to try to answer the question!
topic should be broad enough to allow in depth study but narrow
enough that it can be researched and investigated in the time available.
Costs should be considered, as should the amount of support from
other people which will be needed for transportation and research.
possible attend a local or district science fair competition to
get ideas for future topics. Pay attention to which general categories
are of interest; talk to other students about how they selected
their topic. In some localities prizes are awarded for outstanding
projects in certain areas or on certain topics; students may wish
to select a topic that would qualify
Tips for Following the
Students are expected to
show increasing sophistication and application as grade level increases.
Elementary students might illustrate or model a science topic of
interest to them, or they might demonstrate how a particular principle
works. Middle school students are expected to conduct an experiment
of some type, and to use process skills which are relational by nature.
The student would relate concrete ideas to abstract ones, and would
use inductive and deductive reasoning. The student might start by
identifying a problem, proposing a possible solution (an hypothesis),
then conduct an experiment, record the results, and use the results
to draw a conclusion. A high school student would need to show increased
synthesis and more theoretical rationalization. Their experiments
would need to demonstrate the application of knowledge, technical
skills, and experience to the experiment, with strict control of
variables and extended analysis of results.
fair projects are by nature independent studies, and should provide
opportunities for the students to challenge but not overwhelm themselves.
Care needs to be taken in the selection of the topic, to ensure
the best fit between the challenge of the project and the motivation,
skills, and interests of the student.
organizations which sponsor science fair competitions have rules
and policies which govern the competition; be sure to follow all
the rules carefully. Rules governing safety, what you put on display,
and proper care for animals are especially important. Some organizations
sponsor prizes for projects in certain categories; research these
to help in the decision of topic if you wish to participate in
the special competitions.
time can be an exciting period of days, weeks, or even months
in which students make new discoveries about the world around
them, and about themselves.
science teacher making an assignment for students to participate
in Science Fair has a schedule for the project, and ideas about
what kinds of projects students should do. For example an elementary
school student might do a demonstration or a model, a middle
school students might do a research project or a simple experiment.
High school students are expected to do a more complex experiment
in an area of scientific inquiry which is of special interest
every level the student proposes a topic, develops an understanding
about the topic, explores it a bit further, and reports his
or her findings to an audience. Students attempt to investigate
a problem, perhaps even solving it in an innovative way, and
teach themselves science through their discoveries. Projects
may be in any area of science, might involve dis
fair investigations require time management skills. Students
must budget their time, space out the work in manageable chunks,
keep to a schedule, and complete their experiment early enough
to have ample time for making conclusions and retesting results
if necessary for confirmation and confidence.
fair projects present students with opportunities to use reading,
term benefits of science fair projects have been identified
as well. Students find projects which relate to their everyday
Makes a Good Science Fair Topic?
my topic realistic?
Identify a Problem
Is it something I can do?
Is my topic interesting to me?
Can I investigate my topic by experimenting and collecting data?
Can I afford what I will need to investigate my topic?
Do I have enough time to complete the experiment?
fair projects which attract the most attention share certain
characteristics. Think about these questions:
Is this project truly original, or has it been
Is the answer to my question already known?
Will my investigation add significantly to what is known about the topic?
Are there outside resources available to me? Have I narrowed my results from
all possible angles?
Develop a Hypothesis
Characteristics of Scoring:
which receive superior ratings achieve very high scores in all
four of these categories. Effective presentation of the student's
work is also critical.
2. Effective use of the scientific method
3. Clarity of expression
4. Originality and creativity
a Science Fair Topic
for Completing the Work Without Significant Stress:
early. Plan to work on the project every day and every week;
make a schedule for your work and stick to it. When the research
is done, and the experiment has been completed, remember that
the project must still be presented to a wider audience. Take
time in completing the display board first. Then be sure to practice
describing your project to your family and friends; listen to
their questions to find gaps in your presentation and/or display
board and make come corrections. Remember that you know the project
the best, and need only share with your audience what you did.
the Science Fair day, dress for success. Along with your display
board and materials, be sure to take a table and chair if you need
them for displaying your project. Some students also bring a table
covering to add color and interest to their display. Remember that
a science fair is not a beauty pageant, that simple display boards
can be very effective, and that the project will be evaluated more
on what you have done and what you have learned. However the creativity
of a project will be rated more favorably by judges if time, care,
and the effective use of design are obvious. Use lettering for
the headings that can be read five feet away. Use one or two colors
to attract attention to certain features of your project that are
special. Talk to the art teacher for advice on layout . Use a large
font size for any written work displayed on the backboard. Type
the written paper if possible, and present it as professionally
as possible, with a cover and an inviting layout. Make sure the
first sentence of your report is very interesting, so that anyone
who reads it will want to know more.
be sure to take a book with you in case the wait for judges is
long. Be on the lookout for the judges, and stand up when they
approach you. Introduce yourself, offer to shake hands, look them
in the eye, and say firmly to yourself, "I can do this, and my
project is really great!" Make your presentation with animation;
allow your interest to show!
for Presenting the Project in Original and Creative Ways (Making
fair boards can be purchased or created from plain brown cardboard
sheets, lightweight plywood, or pegboard. Most students seem
to purchase a board (actually cardboard) from a store or their
teacher at school. These are available in colors or white, and
have two vertical seams that allow it to stand open on a table.
There are size stipulations that must be followed. Sometimes
students put a bridge over the top, holding the board open and
promoting the project simultaneously.
the display board allows for creative expression and artistic talent,
the older the student the more professional the display should
be. Avoid clutter. Use at most two or three colors. Label all data
tables, charts, graphs, or photographs you use. Artwork, diagrams,
and other elements of the display should be your own work. Use
of logic and careful planning of the board will result in an attractive
for Demonstrating the Sophistication of the Project and the Depth
students begin a science fair project, they may have some idea
of how the experiment will turn out, and they may have some background
knowledge. A superior project is one in which the student has
done extensive research on the topic, shows evidence of extending
him or her self, has used the scientific process carefully and
effectively, demonstrates creativity and originality in topic
selection, approach, display and expressioby the judges are of
critical importance also. Remember that you know your own project
better than anyone else and should be able to explain what you
did and what you learned and what you plan to do next to anyone