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How to Create a Science Fair Project

Last Updated: December 6, 2022 References

This article was co-authored by Bess Ruff, MA . Bess Ruff is a Geography PhD student at Florida State University. She received her MA in Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2016. She has conducted survey work for marine spatial planning projects in the Caribbean and provided research support as a graduate fellow for the Sustainable Fisheries Group. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 141,666 times.

The science fair is an integral part of education. Science fairs allow you to understand and practice the scientific method on any topic that you are interested in. Make sure you have lots of time to complete your project so that it can be well researched and executed. There are many aspects to the science fair project including researching the topic, designing the experiment, analyzing the data, and making an eye-catching display board.

Choosing a Science Fair Project

Step 1 Prepare yourself for the project.

  • Do some brainstorming. Write down any ideas you have or problems that you’d like to solve. [1] X Research source
  • Pick a topic that is appropriate for your age level. It’s okay to be ambitious, but make sure you have enough time to finish everything by the deadline.
  • Keep track of all of your sources so you can cite them in your final report.

Step 3 Make a timeline for completion.

  • Spend at least 1 week researching your topic and gathering information. Spend another week analyzing data, writing the report, and designing the board.
  • Choose an experiment that fits within your time constraints. Some experiments can take at least 1 week, including gathering materials.

Step 4 Write the background research plan.

  • If you will need to use any mathematical formulas or equations to answer your question, research these as well so that you understand them before you begin.
  • Research experiments that may have already addressed some aspect of your question. Designing the experiment will be easier if you have a previous framework to build upon.
  • Ask your teacher or a parent to help you better understand the topic you’ve chosen by asking them if it looks like you have any gaps in your knowledge.

Step 5 Identify the independent, dependent, and controlled variables.

  • The independent variable is the condition that the scientist changes. You should only have 1 independent variable.
  • The dependent variable is the condition that's measured in response to the changes in the independent variable. It's the one that gets observed throughout the experiment.
  • The controlled variables are all of the conditions in an experiment that remain constant throughout the duration of the experiment.

Performing the Experiment

Step 1 Make a hypothesis.

  • For example, in an experiment about the growth height of a plant in different light levels, your hypothesis might be: If plants need light to grow, then they will not grow as high in low light or no light conditions.

Step 2 Design your experiment....

  • Answering these questions will help you make a materials list and develop a clear procedure.
  • Make sure your experiment can be performed safely or with adult supervision. [5] X Research source

Step 3 Write a procedure.

  • Write the steps with an action verb at the beginning, such as “Open the container.”
  • Avoid statements such as, “I opened the container.”
  • Let a parent, sibling, or classmate read your procedure and see if they have any questions. Add more steps if necessary.

Step 4 Gather the necessary materials.

  • If an item is particularly cheap or fragile, you might want to gather extras just in case you need them.
  • Take all of the necessary safety precautions before starting the experiment.

Step 5 Perform the experiment.

  • Make a note if you altered the procedure in any way during the actual experiment.
  • Take pictures during the experiment to use on your display board.

Step 6 Record observations during the experiment.

  • Keep all of your observations and data in your lab notebook.
  • For long-term experiments, date each observation so you know exactly when you made it.

Step 7 Repeat the experiment.

  • For example, start an experiment with 3 plants in different light conditions. Use plants with the same starting height or just subtract the original height at the end.

Analyzing the Data

Step 1 Review the data you have collected to see if it is complete.

  • You might be able to glance at your data and see if it supports or disproves your hypothesis, but understand that you can’t make any firm conclusions until the data has been properly analyzed.

Step 2 Average multiple trials together.

  • For example, your 3 plants in low light may have grown 3.0 inches (7.6 cm), 4.0 inches (10 cm), and 3.5 inches (8.9 cm), respectively. The average growth height for low light is (3+4+3.5)/3 = 3.5 in.

Step 3 Make a table or graph to represent your data.

  • Bar graphs and line graphs are a great way to visualize your data.
  • You can draw a graph by hand, but it looks much cleaner and more professional to make it on the computer.
  • For our example, graph the light levels on the x-axis and the growth height on the y-axis.

Step 4 Label everything on the graph.

  • Give the graph a title that tells you exactly which data are represented.
  • For example, “Plant Growth Height in Various Levels of Light.”

Step 5 Draw a conclusion.

  • At the high school level, you might be able to run some statistics on your data to see if there truly are significant differences between the independent variables.

Presenting Your Project

Step 1 Write your report.

  • Some reports may require an abstract, which is just a short summary of the entire project.
  • Proofread your entire report before turning it in.
  • Cite all of the sources used for your report. Do not copy and paste information from sources, but summarize it in your own words.

Step 2 Present the project on a tri-fold display board.

  • Make subheadings that are bold and large enough to read at a distance of 2–3 feet (0.61–0.91 m).
  • Too many colors on the board can be overwhelming and look chaotic. Stick to 1 or 2 colors to make everything pop.
  • Print the necessary information on white paper and then layer the colored construction paper underneath.
  • Avoid using wrinkled paper and leaving glue marks on the board.
  • Make sure your fonts and font sizes are consistent throughout each section.

Step 3 Organize your information on the board logically.

  • Include pictures that were taken during the experiment to show exactly what you did.
  • Avoid using giant blocks of text. If you do have some that are large, break them up with pictures or figures.

Step 4 Practice your speech for presenting your project.

  • Write some note cards with key points in case you need to refer back to them when speaking with someone.

Expert Q&A

Bess Ruff, MA

  • Don't be too critical on yourself; it leads to frustration. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Pick a topic that is interesting to you so you will enjoy working on it. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Generally, volcanoes are overused and should be avoided. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0

science project steps

  • Always use gloves and goggles when handling chemicals. Thanks Helpful 80 Not Helpful 25
  • Be sure to cite your sources: plagiarism is a guaranteed F. Thanks Helpful 83 Not Helpful 27
  • Seek adult help when using sharp objects. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 1
  • Know that the Internet is not always truthful. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 3

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  • ↑ http://www.kidsciencechallenge.com/year-four/create.php
  • ↑ http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_background_research_plan.shtml
  • ↑ http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_variables.shtml
  • ↑ http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_hypothesis.shtml
  • ↑ http://www.kidsciencechallenge.com/year-four/teachers_projects.php
  • ↑ http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_experimental_procedure.shtml
  • ↑ http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_materials_list.shtml
  • ↑ http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_experiment.shtml#overview
  • ↑ http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_data_analysis.shtml#overview
  • ↑ http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_conclusions.shtml
  • ↑ http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/teacher-resources/science-fair-projects/

About This Article

Bess Ruff, MA

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Introduction

1. get your idea and do some research, 2. ask a testable question, 3. design and conduct your experiment, 4. examine your results, 5. communicate your experiment and results.

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How to Do a Science Fair Project

To get started on your science fair project, you'll learn to observe the world around you and ask questions about the things you observe.

Observe the world around you and ask questions about the things you observe.

Develop your idea into a question you can test. Your question should follow the format, "How does [input] affect [output]?"

Design your experiment and keep track of the results. Remember to only change one variable and conduct your experiment multiple times for each trial. Each trial should be repeated in exactly the same way.

Now that your experiment is done, it's time to examine your results. You want to look for trends in your results and draw conclusions from those trends. You also want to examine your data for possible influences from factors you didn't consider at first.

Make a poster display that summarizes your experiment so you can share your results. Be sure to include the question you were trying to answer (your hypothesis), the steps you took to answer that question, your results and any factors that may have influenced your results. Your poster should be visually appealing, but also clear about what you did and why people should care.

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COMMENTS

  1. Science Fair Project Guide

    Doing a science fair project involves these four steps: Pick a science fair project idea. (Tip: Take the Topic Selection Wizard for a personalized list of projects just right for you!)

  2. How to Create a Science Fair Project (with Pictures)

    1 Prepare yourself for the project. Discuss possible topics and plans with your teacher. Note any guidelines they give for the assignment, and keep these requirements in mind while designing your project. If your teacher hands out any worksheets regarding the science fair, keep them together in a folder. 2 Research topics that interest you.

  3. How to Do a Great Elementary Science Fair Project and Board

    1. Science Project Ideas 2. Science Fair 101: How Do You Do a Science Fair Project? 2. Choosing a Topic 4. Preparing Your Poster Board 5. Judging Science Project Ideas All of the projects below are original ideas done by my own children. Each one includes: Explanation of the scientific concept. Step-by-step instructions. Sample project format.

  4. Preparing Experimental Procedures for a Science Fair Project

    Overview Now that you have come up with a hypothesis, you need to develop an experimental procedure for testing whether it is true or false. The first step of designing your experimental procedure involves planning how you will change your independent variable and how you will measure the impact that this change has on the dependent variable.

  5. How to Do a Science Fair Project

    To get started on your science fair project, you'll learn to observe the world around you and ask questions about the things you observe. 1. Get your idea and do some research. Observe the world around you and ask questions about the things you observe. 2.