Science Fairs, fair or unfair, fun or homework run amuck? Okay you’ve got yourself one humdinger of a craving to show everybody just how smart you are. Or you’re just stuck doing a project for school that had better get a good grade or your parents will let you have it. Either way the procedure is the same.
Start off with reading and understanding the rules. Every school and each grade is likely to have their own version of what is and isn’t permitted. Every school district and community has its very specific safety considerations, animal rights, and even religious concerns. You’re not going to get a high score if you’re disqualified before the game starts. If you don’t know ask a teacher, believe it or not that’s exactly what they’re there for. Get a notebook and start taking notes at the very start. Call it your log, scientific journal, or research documentation and keep it up to date and as thorough as you possibly can. Keep it neat, grammatically correct, and full of as many charts, graphs, and formulas as any mad scientists who would be proud to claim it as his or her own. (It is schoolwork and neatness will matter!)
The next phase of your mission will be to come up with your idea. This is by far the most important thing you will do. The right idea will not only be interesting and intriguing for your target audience, but for yourself as well. The only way to shoot for the stars is to select something that you’re into. If you only “phone it in” it will show, if you put your heart into it that will show as well.
The first step is to choose a category. Remember to look for one that peaks your curiosity, the more you want to know the more you will learn and the more you can pass onto others. A well-done science fair project not only puts on an impressive demonstration, it also proves something. If you can’t convince yourself how can you expect to convince others? The key is to find your passion. A topic that excites you will make your project stand out from the crowd. Never underestimate the power of enthusiasm, it can be extremely contagious!
Let’s start with a broad list of possible categories for you to explore:
Astronomy-Like to look up to the heavens at night? Do the intricate workings of the universe wet your appetite? “Space:The Final Frontier” or The Ultimate Science Project?
Biology-Ever wonder what makes you tick? The intricate workings of any animal’s anatomy are no small wonder. If you’re the squeamish type, but still would like to work with animals, whether they be four-legged, finned, or human, you can work with behavior instead of physical attributes. Put them through their paces and see what happens.
Botany-For those that like to study animal life that doesn’t bite! Help feed the planet, find out what makes what plant grow better. Learn about the structure of the intricate and ever so colorful leaf.
Chemistry-mixing stuff together trying to get reactions. Traditionally the most thought of laboratory, Bunsen burner, and glassware likely necessary.
Geology-Not only rocks and earthquakes, but fossils, volcanoes, the depths of the ocean, and even the weather can be studied if you have the mind to. There are many awesome powers that Mother Nature has at her disposal.
Engineering-Love to build things, mechanical contraptions, this might just be up your alley. Windmills, pumps, steam engines, and the ever-lovable robot
Environment-want to help save the world? You got to start somewhere. Recycle, restore, and reclaim what you can. Composting, conservation, and help clean up man’s mess.
Microbiology-for those who wonder what lurks in the miniscule realms where the naked eye can’t see. Grow a much smaller garden-bacteria, fungi, yeast.
Physics-one of the most popular and widespread areas-Levers, pulleys, electricity, energy, gravity, magnets
Mathematics-for those who love a real brain teaser. Solving problems that even many teachers have trouble with. Not for the week willed.
To help get the ideas flowing I’ll give you a few examples:
Subject 1 Astronomy-
The phases of the moon and what causes them-also mention the moon’s effect on tides
The seasons and their relationship to the tilt of the Earth
Understanding and identifying black holes
Sunspots and their effects on the Earth’s magnetic field
Subject 2 Biology-
Does caffeine raise blood pressure?
How sensitive is a person’s sense of smell?
Comparing reflexes, lung capacities, blood pressure, pulse rates, and etc between different people-separate by age, sex, or any other group you can gather
Diet effectiveness and risks
How does music affect heartbeat, blood pressure?
Subject 3 Botany-
Organic verses inorganic fertilizers
Rates of plant growth under varying conditions-sun, water, temperature
Hydroponically grown verses tradition soil planting
The affect of acid rain/nitrogen/salt water on plants
Subject 4 Chemistry-
Can water be split into hydrogen and oxygen-cold fusion
Grow your own crystals-in varying temperatures
Subject 5 Geology-
Model of an earthquake/volcano/tsunami/landslide
Compare soil types-talk about soil management
Make your own fossil
Sinkholes and how they’re formed
Subject 6 Engineering-
Build a hovercraft/magnetic-lift train model
Compare the various types of bridges/tunnels
Make an electric generator
Make a solar cooker
The resonant frequency of glass
Subject 7 Environment-
Does the ph of rain change from one location to the next?
Burning trash verses landfills
Methods for purifying water/air
Methods of slowing erosion
Subject 8 Microbiology-
Effect of antibacterial soap/disinfectants/saliva on bacteria
Bacteria on our hands/feet/ in our mouth
The effect of temperature on fungi
The effect of bacteria in soil
Subject 9 Physics-
Viscosity of liquids and how it affects the shape of droplets
Bending light through prisms and lenses
Explain the Doppler effect/a nuclear reaction/speed of light/sound
Infrared and Ultraviolet light
Subject 10 Mathematics-
Patterns formed when number sequences are translated into different base systems and interpreted in Base-10
Exploring binary sequences
Finding math in nature
Determining the best location for a power plant
These are just a very few of the possibilities. You are only limited by your imagination.
Odds are you don’t have a government grant to help you on your way. Your budget may limit your options as well, keep that in mind.
Whatever you chose remember to follow the scientific method for best results. Make a guess-your hypothesis-what you think will happen. Observation-experiment through action and actually see what happens, recording everything, every step of the way. Try as many variations as you can come up with. That is your scientific data, the evidence you did the work. Think of as many creative ways as possible to display your results-bar and pie charts, graphs up the kazoo, charts, and tables to all reinforce your study. You can even video parts or make a photo album. Even recording the different sounds can help animate a presentation. When all is said and done you have to have conclusions. Interpret your data, you should have mountains of it. Let the academic world know what you personally discovered, were you right and/or wrong. Hold nothing back.
Remember to set a timetable and stick to it. The best made plans often fall asunder due to procrastination.