Science fair season is just around the corner, and we have some tips and ideas to help get you started! Here are a few basic guidelines to help make your science fair project a successful one:
- Pick a topic that you are interested in learning about. You are simply going to be more enthused to work on your project, gather all the information you can, and learn from it if you are interested in your project. Spare yourself, your parents, teachers, and the judges from a project that bores you. It shows when you really do not care about your project. Look at our Science Fair Project Ideas for some ideas on a possible science fair project.
- You do not have to reinvent the wheel with your science fair topic. A good topic can have revolutionary ideas, but more importantly, judges will want to know if you learn something from it, and if you used the scientific method to do your project. It is okay to take an existing science project and use it as your project, just modify the variables being tested to make the project your own. Also, topics that relate to current issues and concerns in society tend to score high points in science fairs (they still have to be well thought out and well researched projects to score high). These topics usually somehow relate to how we can improve or maintain our health, welfare, and/or way of life. Avoid politically charged topics. It is hard to stay neutral, and it is usually hard, if not impossible, to scientifically test your theory.
- Do your own work. Judges are evaluating what you know about your project and what you learned during the process of your project from start to finish. If your parent, brother or sister, friend or classmate does all your work, you are not going to learn anything. This will become embarrassing when the judges come and talk to you about your project.
- Make sure your project is a science project. To be a science project, it must use the scientific method and answer a question. Data must be collected and analyzed in order to conclude whether or not your hypothesis was correct. Demonstrating how something works is not a science project. For example, demonstrating a collection of magic eye tricks does not constitute a science project because no data was collected. However, if you compare how long it takes specific groups of people (such as children and adults, boys and girls) to see the magic eye tricks, then you have a science project because you are collecting data and can use that data to draw conclusions. (As a side note, although it used to be allowed for elementary students to do observation/demonstration projects, more and more science fairs want elementary students to also use the scientific method and collect data. Therefore, it is best to cover your bases and avoid doing solely an observation/demonstration project.)
- Keep your project simple. Try to test only one variable or one hypothesis. The more experiments in the project, the harder it is to keep track of all the factors that influence your science project. There is always next year to expand on this year's project. Consult our Science Fair Guide for more information on completing a science fair project.
- Relax during the interview when presenting your project. The judges are not there to torment you or pick apart your project. They want to see that you did your own work (which can easily be answered by how well you understand your project), that you have all parts of the scientific method, did the steps correctly, and identified any factors that may have caused inaccurate results. Also, many judges want to know how you can improve your science project or what you would change to account for those factors. The best advice for the interview is to know your project inside and out.