Science Fair Success

GETTING STARTED

Since science encompasses so many different topics almost anything can be the basis for a great project.

Science Buddies provides a Topic Selection Wizard that will aid you in selecting just the right topic. This site also provides detailed information that will guide you through each step in preparing your science fair project.  All Science Fair Projects can help you search for useful ideas and tips for your experiment. There are also hundreds of experiments of every kind in every discipline of science which are color-coded to quicken your research.

THE BIG QUESTION

After selecting your topic, you'll need to consider the Scientific Method to construct the "big" question. Once the big question is formed, you'll need to consider the keywords in the question to begin the research process.

For example: How does water purity affect surface tension?

RESEARCH

In research, it is valuable to ask the 5 Ws - why, what, when, where and which. It is also useful, if you ask questions beyond the 5 Ws regarding your topic.

For example:

• Why are moths attracted to light?
• What is the difference between a series and parallel circuit?
• When does a plant grow the most, during the day or night?
• Where is the focal point of a lens?
• Which cleaning products kill the most bacteria?
• How does a java applet work?
• Does a truss make a bridge stronger?

As you are conducting your research, consider the history of the topic, as well as any mathematical equations or formulas that will needed to be used in the results. And as with any research project, check with the teacher to see if a bibliography is required.

HYPOTHESIS

Once the research is completed, you'll be able to make an educated guess as to the answer of the "big" question. This educated guess is called the hypothesis.

For example:

"If I open the faucet [faucet opening size being the independent variable], then it will increase the flow of water [flow of water being the dependent variable]."

TESTING THE HYPOTHESIS

Scientists perform experiments to establish and observe a cause and effect relationship or change. This will test the hypothesis. The relationships or changes are affected by the variables - independent, dependent and controlled.

For example:

 Question Independent Variable (What I change) Dependent Variables  (What I observe) Controlled Variables  (What I keep the same) How much water flows through a faucet at different openings? Water faucet opening (closed, half open, fully open) Amount of water flowing measured in liters per minute The Faucet Water pressure, or how much the water is "pushing" "Different water pressure might also cause different amounts of water to flow and different faucets may behave differently, so to insure a fair test I want to keep the water pressure and the faucet the same for each faucet opening that I test."

It is recommended to complete the experimental procedure a minimum of three times to verify accuracy.

ANALYZE AND CONCLUDE

After the experiments have been conducted, the next step is to analyze the data. Tables and graphs are excellent ways to display the data.

When analyzing the data, it is helpful to ask the following questions:

• Is it complete?
• Is more data needed?
• Are there any mistakes?

After the analysis is complete, a conclusion can be made that either supports or contradicts the hypothesis.

FINAL PROJECT

The last step is to construct the abstract or written report, as well as the display board that is almost always required. It is important to follow the teacher's specifications for both.  f it is required to verbally present the display board and abstract, be sure to practice the presentation repeatedly prior to judging.

MORE TO KNOW

The library offers a plethora of resources to help in preparing a science fair project.

Most science fair project books can found under call number 507.8. Our science research databases and reference books online can be searched here. If you need additional assistance, ask a librarian here.