Doing a Science Fair Project

Planning and Conducting the Investigation

To ensure that science fair projects are done well, they should be started no later than the beginning of the school year. The student should make a planning timetable so that there will be sufficient time to carry out all the steps in the process. Below is a suggested timetable and plan of action to help give direction.

1-2 Select a problem/begin research. Read publications, textbooks, and reference books. Consult teachers and other scientists who might help you.
3-4 Continue research. Design experiments and method of investigation. Discuss with others.
4-5 Collect material needed. Set up necessary equipment to do experiments. Outline research paper.
5-13 Begin experiments. Complete experiments. Be sure to set aside time for observing and recording each day. When making observations and recording results, organize data in orderly tables and charts.
13-16 Interpret results and data, draw conclusions, consider applications. Consult with teachers or other scientists. Construct models, illustrations, and/or displays. Finish research paper. Prepare for oral presentation of the project report. Remember, some of the most useful information can come from talking to other people who are interested in your topic.

I. Research Paper

A report of the research should be presented in a formal research paper. A suggested format follows:

A. Title

B. Abstract–a brief condensation of the entire report, in one page or less

C. Statement of the problem

D. Experimental methods

E. Results–this may include tables and graphs

F. Conclusions

G. References–use correct bibliographic form in repeating references. One quick means of determining correct form is to look at an article in a scientific publication, such as Scientific American, Science, The Science Teacher, Journal of Chemical Education, or American Biology Teacher. Note the bibliographic form used in references at the end of an article in a recent issue of one of these journals.

II. Suggestions

A. Do the Work Yourself

This is your project! One purpose of the science fair is to encourage you to do experiments. Do most of the work yourself; develop the idea on your own. Ask a question and then design an experiment to try to answer it.

You are encouraged to get advice from others, and you may need them to help with construction of an apparatus, but the project should be basically your project.

B. Start Early

It always takes longer than you think to do a good science project. You may have delays getting materials, constructing the apparatus, writing the report or making the display. Your proposed project may not work as you feel it should, and you may wish to start another one.

C. Work Regularly

Do not put it off until you have time; make time! Set aside a regular time to work even if only for a short time. Keep a written record at every stage of the project.

III. Exhibit Size

Displays will be restricted to a space 122 cm wide (side to side), 76 cm deep (front to back), 198 cm in height (from tabletop), or 274 cm in height (floor to top).

IV. Oral Presentation

Students should be at their exhibit during judging at the State Fair. Judges will have some questions about your project.

A. Questions commonly asked by judges

  • "Tell me about your project."
  • "What did you find out?"
  • "Why did you do your project this way?"
  • "What does that word mean?"
  • "Why do you think your results turned out as they did?"
  • "If going to study this more, what would you do next?"

B. Suggestions

  • Be able to explain your project in 1/2 to 1 minute.
  • Talk clearly and simply. Act interested and enthusiastic.
  • Dress neatly and attractively.
  • Practice your talk before others. Get others to ask you questions; learn answers to questions that you do not know.