What Makes a Good Science Fair Project?
Perhaps you thought the day would never arrive. But it has. You have finally gotten your science fair project assignment and you want it to be a winner.
Maybe you already know what you want to do or maybe not. Whatever you decide, doing it right will get praise from your teacher and you may also go to a regional Science Fair.
Original ideas are what judges are looking for. Your project could be original in the scientific concept or maybe you've come up with a new way to solve an old problem or a new and better way to interpret the data. Whatever your project, make sure it is done well. Just having a great and new idea is only half of the solution.
If you want to impress the judges you need a goal or objective of what you are doing. What scientific concept are you trying to prove or disprove with your project? Your elementary or advanced grade science fair project must show the judges that you understand and know how to use scientific theory, terms, techniques and methodologies properly. Judges look for students who know about the scientific principles and practices they used in their project. They want to see if you can interpret what you learned. It's important for judges to know that you have a depth of understanding of the basic science behind the project topic, that you comprehend the finer level of detail and that you're aware of any influence or effects the project has on related subject topics.
Judges aren't expecting you to have access to university research laboratories or be a Ph.D. candidate for the topic area you've chosen. What is important is that the technical level of sophistication and complexity of your project reflect your level of understanding.
Know how all your equipment works, what it does and why it was used in your project. If you can't explain it to a judge, then you probably don't understand the science of what's going on
Judges look for complete projects. That is, cool and winning projects that are thorough in addressing the original question and thorough in answering other questions that come up during the experimentation process.
How much time and energy have you put into your grade level science fair project? Was it a one-hour wonder or did you actually put in some effort and time? Did you fly by the seat of your pants or did you spend time reading and learning the subject? Either way, it will show. Pick a topic you like. Science is found everywhere. There must be something you enjoy that can be used as part of a science project. Think outside the box and have some fun with your project!
A judge considers time and effort as two important factors in a successful project. Judges can usually tell that the amount of effort that goes into your project reflects your motivation. Because if you're not motivated, you won't enjoy the experience and that show
If nobody understands what you were doing with your winning science fair project, why bother with all that work? Be crystal-clear in both your written and verbal communication skills. Your ideas should be clearly presented and easy to understand.
Think about the following ideas for your project. Clever experimental apparatus.
Correctly interpreting data. Discovering knowledge not readily available to you.
Combining good research and experimentation. Repeating steps to verify experimental results.
Predicting experimental results with analytical techniques. Experiments that have a real world application.
Your ability to clearly portray and explain your project and its results.
Judges will ask lots of questions about your project. Dazzle them with your brilliance and be prepared to answer questions like these:
- How did you come up with the idea for this project? What did you learn from your background search?
- How long did it take you to build the apparatus? How did you build the apparatus? How does it work?
- How much time did it take to run the experiments?
- How many times did you run the experiment with a different set of parameters?
- Did you try something else that didn't work?
- Can you explain to me how your project relates to (some scientific principle)?
- Do you think there is an application in industry for this knowledge?
- Were there any books that helped you do your analysis?
- When did you start this project? Or how much of the work did you do this year?
- What is the next experiment to do if you want to continue this study?
After selection of a hypothesis, the most important parts of the scientific process are to
conduct background research, develop an experimental apparatus or procedure to investigate the hypothesis or question, operate the apparatus or conduct the procedure to collect experimental data, perform iterations of data collection, reduce or analyze the experimental data, arrive at conclusions.
The final step before coming to the Science Fair is to prepare a display and rehearse an explanation of how the display shows the means for conducting the experiment, developing the results, and arriving at the conclusions. Have fun while you are making your presentation. Judges like students that are enjoying the process.
© 2000 - 2010 Terimore Institute, Inc.