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Science Fair Project Displays

The Science Fair Project Display – Put the “Wow” in your Project!

Your science project display will represent all the work you have done on your project. You've worked long and hard to complete your project with care, so make sure your display is the best it can be. Even the best science fair project can fail in the eyes of the judges if the display is messy or does not accurately explain project details. In addition to being neat and descriptive, it should also be visually interesting to hold the interest of the viewer.

An example of a three-sided
or tri-fold display.

Now that you know just how important your science fair project display is, read the following pointers to ensure a winning display to match your winning project!

Display Type & Size: the allowable size and shape of your display can vary so be sure to find out the size and shape guidelines for your science fair. A three-sided back-board is usually the best choice to display everything you want and need to accurately represent your project. This type of board (also called a tri-board) can be thick poster board, cardboard, wood or any other sturdy material cut to meet proper size requirements. There are pre-made options available at office supply stores or can be ordered online. Keep in mind that your display will have to be transported to your fair site so be careful not to make it to heavy or too flimsy.

Display Contents & Arrangement: Each science fair has different rules about display content and some have rules about where the content should go on the display. Common content areas include project Title, Problem, Hypothesis, Experiment (materials & procedure), Data, Results and Conclusion. Before using these content examples for your display, be sure to find out the content guides for your specific science fair.

Titles & Lettering: The project title should be visible from about 3 feet away to entice would-be viewers to come to your display. Title and content areas can be labeled by using self-sticking letters, or stenciled directly on the board or you could use printed words created from a computer and glued to the board. Be sure that all the titles are neat and coordinate well in color and letter type and size. Bold or neon colors always catch attention, be sure to draw attention to the right things on the display. Use bold colors and larger sizes on more important areas and smaller or neutral colors on less important project areas. Always be sure to check spelling as misspellings represent a lazy attitude toward the display.

Visual Interest: Photos, drawings, graphs or actual objects will catch the eyes of the viewer so be sure to include any that you might have. Whatever visual elements you use, be sure that they help describe or explain your project. Don't put any visuals up just to dress up the display, it will attract viewers but they will leave disappointed when they see that it has nothing to do with your actual science project. Also, be sure to note any rules for using visuals or 3D objects on your display so you stay within the fair guidelines.

Display Arrangement: Before gluing or attaching anything to the board do some experimenting with the display contents to be sure the arrangement is the best and all will fit orderly and uniformly. Start by laying your back-board out flat, and lay all the content elements next to it. Then, arrange them on the board as you see fit but don't glue anything yet! Use a ruler or yardstick to help line letters and items up evenly. Step back and take a look. Try rearranging elements (being mindful of your fair's display board rules) until you have the look you like. A good idea is to take a break and leave the room once you have an arrangement you like. Do something else for a few minutes than go back and look at the board arrangement. If you still like how it looks, it's likely the best it can be. Now you can carefully attach your elements to the board.

Read our Display Do's and Don'ts for more tried and true display tips.

The Do's:

•  Do use graphs created on a computer.

•  Do display photos that best represent the procedure and the results.

•  Do use contrasting but complimentary colors.

•  Do limit the number of colors used.

•  Do attach charts neatly and in order. If there are a number of charts, place them in booklet form so they can be viewed by flipping through them.

•  Do distribute the materials on the board evenly so that each area covers the same amount of space when possible.

•  Do use rubber cement or double-sided tape to attach papers. White glue causes the paper to wrinkle and shows through thinner papers.

The Don'ts:

•  Don't leave large empty spaces on the backboard, spread out all the elements evenly.

•  Don't leave the table in front of the backboard empty. Display your report, copies of your abstract, your journal and any models here.

•  Don't hang any electrical wires on the front of the display, hang these so the wires run along the back of the board.

•  Don't make the title or headings hard to read by using uneven lettering, words with letters of different colors, or disorganized placement of materials.

•  Don't hand-print letters on the backboard, use stencils, printed letters or stick-on letters instead.

•  Don't attach folders that could fall open on the backboard.

•  Don't make mistakes in spelling words or writing formulas.

Follow these tips and tricks and you'll be on your way to a winning science fair project with a winning project display! Good luck, have fun and enjoy your science fair.

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