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The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri

Science Fair Success


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.



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?



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:

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.



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]."



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:


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

"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. 



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:

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



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.   



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 online can be searched here. If you need additional assistance, ask a librarian here.


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