Tips for Students Doing a Science Fair Project: For many middle and senior high students, participating in science fair is elective, rather than mandatory. These tips, however apply to those who choose to do a project as well as those who must participate in science fair.
Tip 1: Go into science research because you want to, and do a project that you will enjoy. If you expect the experience to be an adventure, you will learn something new. If you never try, you never win. There are many benefits from participating in science fair at the junior-senior high level.
Do find something you want to do.
Do a project because you love it.
Do your best.
Do find a mentor to guide and supervise your work.
Don’t do a project because you might win an award.
Don’t do it because your parents or your teacher want you to. ·
Don’t be afraid to try something even if it might not work out. ·
Don’t do it alone.
Tip 2: As you look for a topic, record exactly where you find any information. This will help you in the future when you begin to write your research paper. Consider the world around you, the problems within your community, and your own interests. Select a question that can be investigated through experimentation by looking for cause and effect relationships.
Tip 3: The scientific process makes the project, not the results. Your experiment can be a complete failure, but you can still do well in the fair. Judges and scientists expect failures to occur, hypotheses to be rejected. As long as you adhere to the scientific method and present your project well, you can be successful.
Tip 4: The “significance” of the project is often what makes a good project a winning project, so pay close attention to answering the questions: “Why do this?” and “What difference will this project make in someone’s life?”
Tip 5: Consider the “cause and effect” relationship and use an “If…then…” statement. For example: “If a tomato plant is fed fertilizer, then it will grow bigger and stronger than one that is not given fertilizer.” “If a gerbil is offered certain rewards, then it will learn to run a maze.” “If soil is used to grow onion, then they will grow better than those in water will.” “If there is calcium in chicken bones, then they might be a dietary source for calcium.”
Tip 6: Develop a hypothesis that is narrow in scope. As you research and work with the project you may be tempted to go in other directions. Stick to the original hypothesis, unless you find it is too narrow.
Tip 7: You will not use all the background information you learn about your subject, but the more you know, the better your project will be. Include all of the research in your bibliography and research notes. For every bit of information you collect, ask yourself: “Why is this interesting and what significance do these facts have?”
Do not rely solely on the Internet for background information. Judges want to see a variety of sources. Every library has a reference librarian who can be immensely helpful to a serious student. Ask for help if you need it. If a reference isn’t available at your local library, ask the librarian if an interlibrary loan can be arranged.
Tip 8: The work on your experiment and project must be entirely your own. If a new skill or procedure is required, someone may show you how to do it, but then, you must do the work on your own. If you need assistance, someone may assist, but you must accomplish the bulk of the work yourself. Judges can tell if you haven’t done the work and you can be disqualified.
Tip 9: If you are not familiar with the metric system, this is a great time to learn it. Scientists (and science fair students) only use the metric system. Be sure you don’t mix inches and centimeters, ounces and grams.
Tip 10: The research paper is not simply a layout of sources. A good paper is focused, organized, edited and well-written. Whenever possible, try to write the information in your own words. Write in third person. A research paper never says “I” did this or that, but always refers to self as “the researcher,” or “this researcher.”
Judges want to see every step of the Scientific Method clearly stated on the backboard. Memorize the steps, include the scientific method in your research paper, on your backboard and in your verbal report of the project. How you followed the scientific method is more important than your experimental results or outcome. With these tips for your science fair project, you can create a winning project.