Science Fair Projects
This style of project appeals to people who like to solve problems or answer questions by following a step-by-step format. Students who chose this project will follow the scientific method, keep careful records of their efforts, develop conclusions, and then present the project at the science fair. For our purposes, we will consider the following divisions of the scientific method:
- Problem - The problem must be specifically defined question, and must be experimental! Experimental refers to the fact that the problem can be approached by conducting an experiment, data can be collected, and conclusions can be drawn. Students generally should not know the answer to the problem ahead of time. Warning: This project is not a "how to" lesson, nor is it a demonstration of information already known!
- Research - This is where the student will study background information about the problem, and their ideas about possible solutions.
- Hypothesis - This section is where the student will state his/her most likely idea as to the answer for the problem. This is often referred to as an "educated guess". The hypothesis must be testable, possible, and within the student's ability level.
- Experiment - This is a test of the hypothesis. It will include specific procedures, data collection methods, and materials used. It must be complete, and include adequate detail.
- Data - This section contains all records of measurements, or observations taken during the trials of the experiment. Data may be either quantitative (numbers and measurements) or qualitative (word descriptions). This section also contains graphs, tables, and charts.
- Conclusion(s) - The conclusion section contains many things, and is open to the analysis of the student. The conclusion should contain an answer to the original problem, if one was found. Other items could include possible sources of error, other hypotheses about this problem or a connected one, utilization of information found, reference to other related experiences, or other observations. This section relates the meaning of the data and observations.
The following are the parts of this project that must be produced for complete credit:
LOGBOOK This is the scientist's "diary", or record of all efforts. Each entry in the logbook must be dated. The general flow of the writing should follow the scientific method, and all steps of the scientific method must have entries recorded. All data must be included, and all conclusion ideas developed here. BACKBOARD This is a display of the project. It is usually put on tri-fold, cardboard or foam board. It should be attractive, informative, and complete. All the steps of the scientific method should be displayed (thus it repeats much of the logbook), along with other items such as pictures, experimental materials, and other informative items. ABSTRACT This is a one page written paper that serves as a short summary of your project. The abstract has three parts that include the Purpose, Procedure, and Conclusions.
General pointers and requirements:
- Start the logbook at the beginning of the project, and record in it throughout. Record all efforts in it as they take place or are planned.
- Do not start the backboard or abstract until the entire project is finished, and the logbook is complete! The backboard and abstract are merely methods of presentation of the project, and not part of the original work.
- Be sure all grammar, spelling, and other mechanics are correct.
- You must get your project approved by the sponsoring teacher(s) before beginning it!
- Check the evaluation rubric as you plan and proceed with your project.