By Joan Whetzel
Science fair projects and professional science experiments involve the data collection which includes all the information on how the experiment or project progressed and the results of that experimentation. The data collected during the experiment must first be organized into a data table, then interpreted and explained as part of the final report. A printed data table for the science fair display board is also helpful in explaining results to science fair judges, much as including the data tables with scholarly papers submitted to scientific journals helps explain the experiment in these publications. Data tables collect the numbers in one place so that the scientist has a visual representation of what occurred during the experiment. The data table information can converted into graphs, making the analysis portion of the experiment or science fair project easier to articulate and comprehend.
Giving the Data Table a Title
Data table titles indicate what information is contained in the data table. For example if you surveyed people to find out if they believed in ghosts, the title for the data table containing this information might read: "Survey Results on Belief in Ghosts."
Labeling Columns and Rows
The rows and columns should split the data into meaningful subsets that can be graphed. In the survey mentioned above, "Survey Results on Belief in Ghosts," you could label column headings as: Age and Gender, Believe in Ghosts, and Do Not Believe in Ghosts. Create row headings that break down data the data by gender and age: Males 10-15, Males 15-20, Males 20-30, Males 30-40, Males 40-50, Males 50 and older and Females 10-15, Females 20-30, Females 30- 40, Females 40-50, and Females 50 and older. This information is easily converted to bar graphs, line graphs, and pie charts to illustrate the experiment/survey results.
A second data table could be created to list data for your own Ghost Hunt results labeling columns for Ghost Hunting Dates and Sights, No Ghosts Found, Suspected Ghost Activity, and Confirmed Ghost Activity.
Collect data in a lab notebook without removable pages. This keep all the science fair project or experiment information together and prevent anything from getting lost. Every part of the science fair project or experiment is stored here: science fair forms, photos, the steps of the scientific process, the initial research report, the notes taken during the experiment, the data tables, and the final conclusions.
Data collected in the lab notebook includes test results, survey results, experiment notes, observations gathered during the experimentation, successes and failures during the experiment, changes occurring during the experiment, and the dates when each piece of data was collected. Create hand drawn tables in your lab notebook – as many as needed - to collect the numbers together in one spot for later analysis.
What Data Can Be Collected?
Data tables can store numerical data on anything that can be measured. Some examples include: means, median, averages, quantities, values (weight, volume, length, speed, time), timed tests, depth, height, length, subjective and objective intensity, changes in color, taste, smell, feel; or any intriguing events.
Data Tables on Display
Experiments always begin with the collection of raw data. This numerical data can be averaged, converted to percentages, and examined for patterns. Analyze the completed data tables and summarize your analysis for the final report. The summarized data analysis should only be a single paragraph printed neatly and applied to your science fair display board. When included in the scientific report that is sent to scientific journals, this will of course will be longer. Hand drawn data tables created during the experiment, and included the lab notebook can be converted to computer generated or hand drawn tables, that are neat and “professional” looking for use on the science fair display board. Professional science papers must include computer generated. Data tables can be created on Microsoft Word or Excel. Excel has functions that automatically add rows or columns, and that will turn data tables into bar graphs, line graphs, and pie charts. Print out the tables to display on science fair display boards, then cut and paste or import the data table and the graphs into your final report. Teachers and science fair judges alike will be impressed.
Science Buddies. Conducting a Science Experiment.
Science Buddies. Data Analysis and Graphs.
Discovery Education. Investigation - Analyze Data and Draw Conclusions.
The Free Library. To Make a Data Table.
National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning Learning to Make data Tables.
Lesson Planet. Science Data Table Worksheets.
Selah School District. Science Fair Project Ideas and Help