What to Include in a Science Fair Project

When creating a science fair project, it is important to make sure that certain elements are included, and that they are organized in a way that is clear and easy to understand. Not only will a teacher grade based off of these elements, but judges will also award marks based off of which parts of the typical science fair project are both present and effectively presented.

First, a goal is essential to any project. If you are doing a research, you should have a clear goal in mind, such as “To discover how tornados are formed and how humans deal with these natural disasters.” If your project is an experiment, your goal might be something like “To discover which brand of diapers is most effective.” If your project consists of inventing something, your goal could be “To invent a mechanism that will effectively allow parents to turn off their child’s cell phone after a certain time.”

Next, you will need a hypothesis. This should be your general idea of what you think will happen, and should always be thought of before the actual research or experiment is done, or before the invention is created. For example, if your research is about tornados, you might say, “I believe that tornados are caused by wind currents of varying temperatures forming together. To deal with tornados, I assume that humans create structures that can better resist against the wind, and that they have electronic devices that can detect when a tornado is being formed, so that the area can be evacuated.” Your hypothesis, of course, should be a bit longer than this, but that is a good foundation. If you’re doing an experiment, try not only to guess what the outcome is going to be (for the example above, guess which brand of diapers is the best), but why. If your project is an invention, make a hypothesis of whether or not you believe you will be able to make the invention, and how well it is going to work.

If you are doing an experiment or invention, you will need a list of materials and a method. If you’re doing a research, unless your teacher has specifically indicated otherwise, you can skip this step. Your materials are going to be everything you use during the experiment or inventing process, and the exact amount. For example, if in order to test which diaper is better you pour a cup of water onto each diaper, don’t just write down water. Write down how many cups are used during the experiment. Your method is going to show exactly what you did during the experiment or inventing process, so that someone could read the steps and reproduce the work. They should be written in a numbered order, as follows:

1. Step one, written in a full phrase.

3. Step two written here.

3. Step three written here.

And so on, so forth. The method should not be written using “I” or “we”. For example, instead of saying “I took a diaper and poured a cup of water on it”, write instead “Pour one cup of water onto the diaper”, as if you were writing a cookbook and giving the recipe. This is true for all parts of the science project, except for the hypothesis. The materials should also be written in a telegraphic list, like this:

-5 cups of water

-5 diapers of [] brands

Unless your teacher requests it, it’s usually not important to write down the pieces of paper or pencils you use to keep track of your results.

Once you have done the experiment, research, or made the invention, you now have to do something with the information. This will be presented in a results section. If you are doing an experiment or invention, this can be done in the form of a diagram. For example, you could make a diagram showing each of the brands of diapers and how many cups of water they could retain before they leaked. For your invention, in order to demonstrate its effectiveness, you might want to make a diagram as well. For example, if you invented a simple hovercraft device, you might want to make a chart of how long the device stayed in the air, and how high it rose. If you are doing a research, you want to instead list all of your findings. These can be put under different subtitles (if you are doing your project on tornados, for example, one section can be Famous Tornados, while another could be Ways of Predicting Tornados).

Next, you are going to want to do a discussion. Here you are going to discuss the results of your experiment or invention: how well did it work? What are possible sources of errors that made the results erroneous? What should you do next time if you wanted to recreate the experiment or invention? For a research, you should try to tie all of the information together: are the ways we predict tornados effective? Is there anything else we could do? Can you notice a trend in the seasons or areas in which most of the famous, most dangerous tornados have struck?

Now, you are going to want to make a conclusion. First and foremost, you should start off by saying whether or not your hypothesis was true or false, and explain this. Don’t be embarrassed if your hypothesis was wrong; that’s not the point of the project, and whether it was right or wrong won’t change the judges’ opinion. What makes the difference is whether you learned something. Conclude with a simple, wrap-up statement, such as, “Perhaps in the future, more adults will be using this simple device in order to limit the time children spend on their cell phones.” Try to avoid saying things like “I learned a lot from this project” or “I had a chance to develop my knowledge on inventing during this project”, as these are not scientific statements and generally frowned upon by judges.

Finally, you are going to want to make a bibliography. This will contain each web document, book and other source you used throughout your science fair project. Check on Google to find out how to properly cite your sources by searching for phrases such as “How to create bibliography”. It would also be important to note where you got any images from, and if you conducted any interviews throughout the project.

Now that everything is written, here comes the fun part: the display! Most science fair projects are put up on a board that is divided into three sections. It would be important to ask your teacher what the exact dimensions should be, though most schools provide boards at a low price for students participating in the fair. Ideally, your board should show your goal, hypothesis, some research and diagrams, as well as your conclusion. Your bibliography, and certain parts of your discussion or results that aren’t as important or interesting, do not have to be added. Try to be creative! If your project is about what brand of bubblegum lasts the longest, try painting different pink bubbles in the background, or attaching some pink balloons to the sides of the board. Make sure that your text is in a clear, easy to read font, that is no smaller than 14 or 16. Also avoid using cursive fonts, or those that are hard to decipher. Your best bet is Times New Roman, Calibri or Ariel, as these are all easy to read from afar. The top of your board should have a title, and each section (goal, hypothesis, results) should have its own smaller title. You can also include pictures of yourself building your invention or doing your experiment.

Another fun way to improve your display is to have props. If you invented something, unless it’s too large to fit near the display, try to bring it with you! If your project is a research involving music, bring some tunes to play on a radio next to your display. If you did an experiment about different diaper brands, why not bring in some diapers and a cup of water? While you don’t necessarily need to reproduce the experiment, a simple visual can go a long way. Some people also bring interesting videos of themselves trying out the experiment at home, or a quick and simple experiment for judges and guests to try out themselves (it should be able to be done in less than three minutes, however, and easily cleaned up). Be sure to put the written copy of your science fair project right in front of your display, in case the judge wants to flip through it. For more ideas of how to organise your science fair project, try doing a search on Google for ideas, but remember to be creative and original, and not to go overboarda presentation that has too many colours, pictures, or that is too “busy” won’t do as well as one that is a bit plain but still organized and neat.

You might also want to include a title page on your written project, whether or not the teacher requires it. When presenting, make sure to speak in a loud, clear voice, and to bring a bottle of water in case you’re thirsty. Make sure you eat and use the washroom before your presentation, because most judges and teachers don’t like to be kept waiting. Also make sure to shake the judge’s or teacher’s hand before you present, and to answer any of their questions confidently and with a smile. If you are unsure of an answer, don’t liejust admit you don’t know, but try to refer them to a website or book where they might get the answer. Also make sure you don’t suck up or insult other projects, as this will generally not fare well with your judges at all. If you are doing an experiment on an animal or human being, you might be required to fill out a form to ensure that your experiment will not harm the participant. Check with your teacher or the organizer of the science fair ahead of time. If your display has a radio, television, or requires an electrical outlet, a certain amount of space, or has any other particular needs, make sure to call at least a week ahead of time to let them know.

Above all, have fun! Science fairs are conducted so that students can not only learn about subjects that interest them, but so that they can enjoy the feeling of success after working extremely hard at something. Be proud of your project, and do the best you can. Most of all, don’t wait until the night before to get started on your projectthis is the downfall of many students, and will usually ensure a failing grade, no matter how late you stay up burning the midnight oil.