It’s time for science fair, and you may be considering a simple project, but worried that it might not be as popular or successful as a more sophisticated project. A simple science fair project is appropriate for younger students or beginners. If you are an older student, the expectations for your project will be greater. However, a simple project can sometimes be more successful than a more sophisticated one when the scientific method is strictly followed, the practical application is significant and the project is well presented.
Science fairs have different categories for projects. In the early school years, there may only be three: Physical, Biological and Environmental. Older students will have more specialization with additional categories, such as: Mathematical, Engineering, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Physics, Space, Behavioral and Computer Science.
Looking for ideas for simple science fair projects begins with considering what is of interest to the student. A science fair project can be hard work and no fun if you are bored with it, or don’t want to do it. Select a fun project and you will have a good time, and that will show in your project and presentation.
Children naturally ask “Why?” Encourage your student to think of as many questions as possible. Questions become the prompt for a science fair project.
Begin with a question, such as:
Will milk spoil faster if it is left out of the refrigerator? Which brand of battery lasts longer in a flashlight? How does acid rain affect plants? Does a large popcorn kernel produce the largest popped popcorn? How are things recycled? What affects the air you breathe or the water you drink?
A science fair project must include an experiment. You must test a question, not just build a model or write a report about a topic. As you ask questions, think about how you would experiment. If you want to experiment with spoiling milk, what type of milk would you use? How would you determine when it is spoiled? How would you measure the temperatures in and out of the refrigerator?
Simple projects include:
How does fertilizer affect a plant’s growth? Does light affect the ripening of fruit? Does heat affect the ripening of fruit? How will the depth of planting affect the height of a seedling? Will seedlings planted upside down grow upside down? Do plants always grow toward sunlight? What foods do cats (dogs, fishes, etc.) prefer? Do birds prefer popped or unpopped corn? Can a mouse (gerbil, hamster) learn to run a maze? Which color fishing lures attract the most fish? Which foods attract/repel insects? What color flowers attract the most bees? Does the color of the feeder affect hummingbirds? What color of wood attracts the most spider webs?
Do hamsters (mice, gerbils, dogs) need vitamins? What conditions do butterflies need to hatch? What is the best soil for earthworms to live in? Does a dog’s mouth have more bacteria than a human’s mouth? Which soap kills the most germs? Does white or wheat bread grow the most mold? Can bacteria be found in a can of baby formula? Do marine sponges kill bacteria? Are boys my age taller than girls my age? Do kids my age prefer one soft drink over another? Are left thumb prints identical to right thumb prints? Doe boys or girls remember dreams more often? Do girls or boys my age have better short-term memory?
Does listening to different kinds of music affect a person’s heart rate? Do babies prefer certain colors? How do certain colors affect people’s moods? What are the effects of video games on a person’s heart rate? Can music affect short-term memory? What is the difference between left brain and right brain dominance? Is brain dominance inherited? Does eating different sweeteners affect a person’s weight? How does a tooth decay? What metals conduct electricity (heat) best? How can heat produce electricity? How do waves carry energy? Do fluorescent lights last longer than filament bulbs?
What factors affect the growth of crystals? Which brand of orange juice has the highest Vitamin C content? Which detergent (toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo) works best? What gum blows the biggest bubbles? What metal rusts faster? Is a black shirt hotter than a white one on a sunny day? What causes air (water) pollution? How does air pollution (carbon dioxide) affect plants? How can air pollution be cleaned up? How can solar energy be used to heat a room? Is there a relationship between temperature and humidity? How can you spread heat more evenly throughout a house? What is the best insulation for homes?
A simple science fair project can introduce you to new and fun ways of leaning about science.