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How to do an Amazing and Awesome Science Fair Project
An Introduction to science fair projects
There is a certain knack of doing great science projects that takes years of experience. After a lot of experience, you begin to see what the judges want. Are you doing a science project or know anyone who is doing one? If you are, do not think you just bought a one-way ticket to nowhere. Doing science projects can be really fun and you can really reap the benefits!
In this article, you'll find out what it really takes to make an amazing science project and how to impress the judges.
A science project involves asking a question or making hypothesis, using the scientific method to test it and evaluating results. Students then get a chance to display their projects at science fairs and talk to the judges about it. Most science fairs also hold competitions giving the participants the chance to win prizes. There are great perks to entering regional or national science fairs. You get lots of freebies from science companies, get a day or few days out of school and you acquire a lot of new skills .
Any science project includes three main parts:
- Oral Presentation
- Report Book
You'll find a detailed guide on science fairs, displays, making a report book and how to impress the judges. You'll be a master at it in no time!
Finding an Idea
This is the hardest part of any science project, believe me. Finding a good idea can be a real problem. Once you have a good idea, everything else will flow on from there. However, here are a few tips to get you started just is case you are completely stuck:
- Go to the library or Internet and do some research.
- If you've heard about events in your community that are causing problems, you could investigate why.
- Think about the environment. That's a huge topic whether it's making a mini wind turbine to recycling in your local area.
- Things that impact on your daily life are winners at science fairs such as: 'Which batteries last longer?'
- Get inspiration from the media. Perhaps you may find something that sparks your curiosity in a magazine or newspaper.
- You could test which products last the longest or are the most effective.
- If you play sports you could test sporting equipment such as the slide of a hockey puck.
- If you have hobbies, you could do a project from that genre. For example, if you love astronomy, you could do a space/astronomy project.
Make an Amazing Science Project with these Books...
Stating a Hypotheses or Research Question
Once you have your idea, it's time to get the ball rolling. Your idea has to be refined and possible hypotheses or research questions have to be made.
- Research about your topic on the Internet and in the library. Are the experiments possible to conduct?
- You then can either create a research question or create a hypothesis if you know enough about the topic. For example if you wanted to investigate which batteries lasted the longest here would be both the hypothesis and the research question:
Research question: Which of four brands of battery last the longest?
Hypothesis: Brand X is the battery which will last the longest.
Your experiment: Materials and Procedures
Now that you have your hypothesis or research question, you need to start planning your experiment.
- List all the materials you will need.
- Plan out your procedure, step by step.
- Make note of your controls and variables.
- Determine your sample size.
- Conduct your experiment under the supervsion of your teacher or parent (only if you are using hazardous chemicals etc).
Results and Analysis
Make note of all your results during your experiments. These are very important. Don't worry if your results didn't turn out as you expected. This happens to millions of scientists everyday. Science is all about failing, improving and succeeding.
You usually have to analyze your results. This involves making graphs and tables based on your results. Here are some great tips for analyzing your results:
- Graphs come in several types including bar-line graphs, line graphs and pie charts. You can use Microsoft Excel to construct graphs for you as you input the information.
- Write a brief summary of your observations and measurements.
- Get an average of your recordings as well as a maximum and minium results. There isn't any need to list out all your results. The main bulk of your results go in the logs section or appendices.
Now that you have analysed your results you need to get your thinking cap on. Answer your research question. Eg: I can say that Plant B grew the highest.
Or, say whether your hypothesis was correct. Drawing conclusions is all about looking for patterns in the data. They differ from results in the way that you are talking about what happened rather than stating numbers. Here are things to keep in mind when writing your conclusions:
- State your hypothesis/research question again.
- Describe your results.
- Compare your results to your original hypothesis/answering your research question.
- Summarize your conclusion.
- What did you observe?
- Suggest any possible improvements you could make if you redo the experiment.
Writing Your Report Book/Research Paper
Writing your report book is an essential part to your science project. If you are entering a science competittion, the judges will read and examine it. Depending on what competition you are in, your report book should average at around 35-40 pages. It contains everything from experiments, materials needed, results, graphs, logs and much more. Consult your teacher for more information about length, what information to include and more. Here are the important things you must put in your report book:
- Abstract- This is crucial. It summarizes what the project is about in or around two pages maximum.
- Background Research
- Experimental Procedures: List out the steps you took in your experiments and list out materials used.
- Results- Make graphs and tables of your results. Make averages.
- Conclusions-What did you observe? Is your hypothesis correct? Could you further research your topic?
This is the part of you project where you can really impress the judges. A lot of students dread this part as they are afraid that the judges will catch them out. This is not true! The judges are lovely to talk to and are very friendly. You will notice how enthusiastic they become when they see your project.What happens? Basically, you talk about your project to the judges, and they ask you questions. They want to know whether you have a deep understanding of the topic. A good first impression can work wonders. Here are a few things you can do to make a good first impression:
- Be polite.
- Introduce yourself and smile.
- Make sure you are looking presentable.
- Don't chew gum or clutch a soft drink. Don't slouch either.
- Make it show that you know your stuff!
- Be confident!
- Don't rote answer the judges.
- Be relaxed!
- Be enthusiastic, even if your experiments didn't work out!
Once you have a good first impression, you're on the right track. The next part is the interview. They will ask you questions about your project and you have to talk about it. A great way to practise is to put the sample questions below on cue cards or scraps of paper and practise your answers. You could get your family or friends to ask you questions and you answer them. However, do not rote learn your answers! The judgs are not there to listen to your learned off answer. They would prefer if you talked freely about your project.
Here are sample questions that the judges may ask:
- What is your project about? - This is a very general question. You must answer it very generally, in turn. Remember, the judge doesn't know anything about your project so don't go into too much detail. There will be time for that later!
- How did you get this idea?
- What application does this project have to real life?
- Which are your controls or variables?
- Where was your project done?
- Can you explain this graph/diagram to me?
- What were your experimental procedures?
- What were your results?
- What do your results mean?
- Did you need to change your original procedures? If so, why?
- What are your conclusions?
- Did you have any experimental errors in your project? How did you correct them?
- What changes can you make if you continue this project next year?
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Final Word: Enjoy Yourself!
You really do feel a sense of achievement when you've completed a science project. You've put in all the hard work, now is the time to enjoy yourself. Well done! You've earned it. Here are the great things you get to do at a science fair:
- Get freebies such as pens, rulers and more.
- Win prizes including money, trophies and prestige for your school.
- Make friends.
- Get a day off school.