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This page is designed to help students from about grade 6 and up plan a science fair project.
Where to Start
First, you need to decide on your starting point. Sometimes brainstorming can be helpful. In your science notebook (the one in which you will record everything you do for your science fair project) write down:
Once you have your list, cross off all but the most interesting topics. Look at each of the remaining topics and do a little more brainstorming--what can you do with this? What related problems are there? What makes you wonder about these topics? Use your answers to narrow down the list further. You will want to choose a topic that both interests you and also has scope for further study.
Researching Your Topic
It is important to research your topic in depth. This means:
Once you have done some research, you may find it wise or even necessary to find a mentor to help you with your project, particularly if you require access to labs and/or specialized equipment in order to complete your work. Some local fairs help match participants with mentors, or you can try and approach people on your own. One way to find them is to look to related industries or professions, such as opthalmologists for optics projects. Many will be happy to help students who are keen about their field.
Experiment, Study or Innovation
You have researched the general topic of study and have determined as best you can what has been studied already. Now is the time to decide on whether your project will be an experiment, a study or an innovation.
When you think of a science fair project, chances are you think of one that falls into this category.
A study is a project that examines data from a variety of sources in order to determine patterns in a new and unique way. These projects tend to rely on a strong statistical analysis. One example might be comparing migration patterns of different bird species over time.
An innovation project will either adapt and improve an existing technology, combine existing technologies, or create a new technology to solve an existing problem. An example of an innovation is the creation of a new method of combining renewable energy sources.
Now you will need to work on the project proper. For a review of experimental techniques and an excellent project creation guide, see the links at the right side of this page.
For all projects:
Tips for an experiment:
Tips for a study:
Tips for an innovation:
It is important that you consult with the rules of your fair before proceeding further, since the dimensions, materials etc. of your presentation are often strictly enforced. Once you have followed these rules and have your display board ready, follow these tips to ensure your presentation will best show off your hard work.
For a more detailed guide for science fair projects,