Science Fair Survival Guide science-fair-survival-guide-workbook.pdf

Science Fair Survival Guide

Table of

Contents Introduction Project Kickstarters The Five Types of Projects Schools of Thought The Great Science Project Checklist Creating a Question Practice your Purpose The Science of You! Ready, Set, Research! The Scientific Method in a Flash Sample Project Best in Show Conclusion

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 13 15 17

Science Fair Survival Guide



eady to discover how things work, get some answers, build something new, and share it with the world? Put on your lab coats and start your Bunsen burners, because we’re going to the science fair! Whether it’s in your home, at school, or at one of the official events around the country, science fairs are one of the best active learning experiences. As a scientist, you have the freedom to design a project, do research, conduct experiments, write essays and present your findings. With this Science Fair Survival Guide in your hands, you’re on your way to a stellar project. I will help you choose a project, conduct and analyze the research, write up a report, make a display, and see it through to the judge’s table!


Science Fair Survival Guide Project Kickstarters

Project Kickstarters


fter you decide to enter the Science Fair comes the big decision—finding that perfect topic. It might take lots of brainstorming to find one that interests you, or maybe you have too many cool ideas and need to narrow them down. Here are some good questions to get started. What interesting topics have I seen How do some of my favorite everyday objects work?

in science books, magazines and TV shows?

What’s a problem I want to find a solution to?

What do I like to do on a daily basis, or for long periods of time?

What’s my favorite subject?

For more inspiration, check out What’s Your Topic? on page 9!


Science Fair Survival Guide The Five Types of Projects

The Five Types of Projects 2. Demonstration In this type of science fair project, you retest an experiment that has been done by someone else, to show a scientific principle in action. Often, the demonstration will involve manipulating different variables to see what happens with change. Example: Build a model that demonstrates ocean currents.

4. Collections In this type of science fair project, you present a collection of items and discuss the scientific principles and new insight that the collection illustrates. Example: Collect leaf rubbings to learn about botany.

1. Experimental In this type of project, you use the scientific method to propose and test a hypothesis. After you accept or reject the hypothesis, you draw conclusions about what you observed. Example: Under what conditions do potatoes grow the fastest?

3. Research In this type of science fair project, you gather information about a topic, write a report, and present your findings with posters and other visual aids. A research project can be an excellent project if you begin with a question and use the data to answer it. Example: Test the hardness of minerals using the Moh’s scale.

5. Models In this type of science fair project, you present a model to illustrate a scientific principle or invent something new and better. Example: Redesign an old lighthouse for new purposes.


Science Fair Survival Guide Schools of Thought

Schools of Thought


hen you’re ready to finalize a topic, keep in mind that a project that matches your grade level can determine your success.

In elementary school, the science fair is great for finding answers to questions and exploring the world around you. For example, “Why do birds fly south for the winter?” or “Does chewing gum affect your sense of smell?” are good questions.

In middle school, you will probably conduct in depth research and analysis. You’re old enough to work with chemicals and build models. For example, you might build a potato battery, conduct a social experiment or track the growth of plants in different parks around the neighborhood.

In high school, projects can be very detailed and advanced, sometimes rivaling the experiments done in real labs. They can still be really fun, like the affect of video games on blood pressure, building a lie detector, or conducting an archeological dig.


Science Fair Survival Guide The Great Science Project Checklist

The Great Science Project Checklist

has e if it e s , u a! s yo ng ide erest i t n n i n i t aw tha have topic y l a b d a e lect prob for , you ’ve se u o s o need f y I u . o y w nce ies belo suppl istics d r n e t a c s ara rce nt. resou the ch e h reme t u s o t a s e m cces e. ata or ave a d h f easur o u m o d Y d n i n k . ea me roject chang ing so n t a c c the p e the l l u ncing be co ch yo e i l l u i h fl w w n les mi You rs fro variab o t e ation c v a m a f r h r o f u e n Yo ni oth keep writte n f a o c s You urce s. ee so ment r e h r t u t s leas mea ata. nd at fi it. s of d n e a c c e need i u p u Yo y o . t t y en jec , if do e sub ast tw iment e r l e t ent to p a r on th x t a e c p e e r l l ro t th an co eache repea t o r You c t u e o y m ave ti n from o i s s i You h ct. m proje e per v s i a h h t ing You fe do ct. a e s to see j e o 6 r b e p l l i g e a th sw op other ead t d h n , c a i top You your e ly. b i r c es friend d r i t ’ a f n do nce these e scie r f o o y m n e it If ma n mak a c u o how y



Science Fair Survival Guide Creating a Question

Creating a Question


ome of the best science fair projects are sparked by a question. If you have a broad topic that needs fine-tuning, do a little research and come back to the brainstorming board. Here are some ways to develop a topic into a problem worth exploring.

Topic Birds



Birds and bird feeder position

Does the height of a bird feeder affect the amount of times a bid visits?

Temperature and time of day

Does body temperature change depending on time of day it is?


Pendulum and length

Does the length of a pendulum affect the number of times it swings?


Erosion and plant life

Does the amount of plant life in the ground affect its rate of erosion?

Body Temperature


Science Fair Survival Guide Practice Your Purpose

Practice Your Purpose


tate the purpose and hypothesis in just a few sentences. Here’s an example: “The purpose of this project is to determine if earthworms affect the nutrition density of soil. I predict that plants will grow better in soil containing earthworms than in soil without earthworms.” Your turn! The purpose of this project is

I predict that


Science Fair Survival Guide The Science of You!

The Scienc Behavioral Science


Would you rather study how the mind works or how the body works?

Would you rather work in a zoo or a laboratory?

Would you rather work with people, wild life or in a lab?

Green House

Would you rather study parts of the body or parts of a cell? Cell


Do you care more about green houses or recycling?






Would you rather work in a cave or a tree?




Environmental Science

Aerospace Science



Earth Science

The study of the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, including aircrafts, planets, satellites, comets, meteors, stars and guided missiles.

The study of the processes and properties of organisms and their relation to carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, enzymes, vitamins, hormones and toxins.

The study of the composition, structure and properties of matter, like gas laws, atomic theory, ionization or compounds.

The study of the origin, structure and composition of the earth, including fossils, minerals, land forms, erosion, ocean waves and the weather.

Behavioral Science


Computer Science


The study of human and animal behavior, often related to culture, emotions, learning, personalities and logic.

The study of plants and how they grow, reproduce, and react to different stimulus.

The study of computer hardware and software, including graphics, virtual reality or program coding.

A mix of engineering and technology that deals with machines like radios, televisions, circuits, electric motors, solar cells or amplifiers.


Cut the quiz on the dotted line and tape it together.

Wild Life


Would you rather study animals or plant life?

Earth Science










Would you rat play with stick building bloc



Science Fair Survival Guide The Science of You!

ence of You! Material Science

Would you rather meet Isaac Newton or Lance Armstrong?





Do you like solving riddles or building models?






Would you rather find neat tricks or build a computer program to solve it?



Would you rather play with a Rubiks Cube or make a bridge?



Would you rather build a house or a cell phone?

Computer Science

Cell Phone




Would you rather discover a new metal or a new planet?


uld you rather y with sticks or ilding blocks?




Health Science



The study science in practical topics, like the design of roads, bridges, dams, buildings or machines.

The study of the human body and its relation to illness, diet, exercise and wellness.

The study of science dealing with quantities, like algebra, geometry, probability, trigonometry, or calculus.

The study of the laws governing motion, matter, and energy, such as gravity, pressure, relativity or Newton’s Laws.

Environmental Science

Materials Science



The study of natural resources like solar energy, water or soil chemistry.

The study of materials and how they can be created and adapted, such as using plastic in new ways.

A branch of biology that focuses on microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, yeasts, fungi, or tissue cultures.

The study of animals and their anatomy, classification, functions and evolution.


Science Fair Survival Guide Ready, Set, Research!

Ready, Set, Research!


he success of your project depends on how well you understand your topic. The more you read up on it and ask questions, the easier it will be to write your report and talk to the science fair judges. Here are some tips to stay on track. Keep a bibliography and works cited so you can give credit to every resource.

Record a new resource every time you find one, so you don’t have to go back and redo the bibliography.

Start a journal to keep all the information and ideas you have.

Use information from different places, like books, journals, newspapers, computer programs and the Internet. Lots of information is not online, so head to the library to double your knowledge.

Interview professionals like teachers, librarians and scientists.

Even if you won’t be mentioning it in your report, find out the history of your topic and its significance to society.

When searching online, be specific and always spell check!

Look at topics that are related to yours. For example, if you’re researching paper airplanes, you could also research flight and birds.

Make sure the information you find is accurate. Find out who put it there, when it was published, who it was written for, and if it has links to other reliable sources.


Science Fair Survival Guide The Scientific Method in a Flash

The Scientific Method in a Flash


ut out these scientific method flashcards for an easy study buddy to take on the go!



This is the first stage in choosing a topic or problem that you wish to understand.

A question that can be tested by an experiment. This will define the purpose of your experiment.

Example: Every day, my teacher waters the plants in our classroom.

Example: Plants grow faster with water, and die without it.



The information you collect from your experiences, books, the internet and expert advice.

The parts of your experiment that you change, to get the results you will then analyze.

Example: The life cycle of plants, and how they grow and produce energy.

Example: Giving plants different amounts of water to track their growth.


Science Fair Survival Guide The Scientific Method…in a Flash

Independent Variables

Experiment An experiment is a tool that you design to find out if your hypothesis was right or wrong.

This variable stands alone and you can control it in order to get the results you need.

Amount of water Example: The different amounts of water you feed your plants.

Dependent Variables


This variable changes depending on other factors, usually your independent variable.

Example: Tracking the growth of your plants over two weeks, and keeping a log of their growth.

Data Observations you gather during the experiment. Analyzing them at the end will ultimately help you draw a conclusion.

H2O 0 ml

Height 0 cms

5 ml

2 cms

10 ml

1 cms

Example: How many millimeters each plant grows each day.

Example: a chart



The parts of your experiment that will not change, so your esults are only affected by the variable.

This is a summary of the experiment’s results, and how they match up to your hypothesis.


Example: Keep the type of plant and amount of soil and sunlight the same.

Example: The plants that received 2 oz. of water each day grow the most.


Science Fair Survival Guide The Scientific Method…in a Flash

A Sample of Science



Plants need sunlight, nutrient rich soil and water to grow. Though the

Determine whether plants will grow if they are watered with various liquids.

plants that are able to grow even when they are given water that is polluted or that has some salt content. Most plants are unable to grow out of water that is as salty as the ocean, though there are a few varieties that can. Water is not always in abundant supply, and when it comes down to making sure that people have enough to drink, sometimes plants are asked to go without. Farmers have turned to using brackish water, or water that has a low salt content, for their crops. Understanding what types of fluids plants can use can help scientists learn more about how to meet the needs of plants as well as people in times of draught.

The purpose of this experiment is to find out whether plants really need water to grow or whether they just need to be kept wet.


Plants will grow better in plain water than in milk


levels of nutrients in milk that the plants may not need to thrive.

1. Label the containers, “Water/Control,” “Milk.” 2. Fill the containers with potting soil. 3. Plant three seeds in each of the pots as directed on the back of the seed package. 4. Measure out 1/2 cup of water and give it to the plants in the “Water/Control” container. 5. Measure out 1/2 cup of milk and give it to the plants in the “Milk” container. 6. Place the plants in a warm, sunny place outdoors or in a window. 7. Repeat steps 4-8 every other day. 8. Record the growth of the plants on a chart.

MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT - Green Bean Seeds - 2 Containers - A marker - Potting soil - Milk - Water - A measuring cup



WATER ATER A 0” .25” .5”

MILK 0” 0” .25”

.1” 1.5”

.5” 1”



Science Fair Survival Guide The Scientific Method…in a Flash



Procedure Conclusion


REPORT The purpose of this experiment is to find out whether plants really need water to grow or whether they just need to be kept wet. I believe that the plants will grow better in plain water than in milk to thrive. I also suggest that milk may leave an unwanted residue in the soil. My hypothesis can be accepted as true because plants grown in pure water grew 1/2” taller after five days and a milky coating lingered on the plants. I used green bean seeds placed in potting soil and tracked their growth over the course of five days while using either water or milk to stimulate their growth. I placed each pot near a warm sunny window and gave each pot either 1/2 cup of water or milk every other day. Overall, plants grown in water as opposed to milk grow 1/2” taller while plants grown in milk failed to thrive as well and appeared less healthy looking.

Science Fair Survival Guide Best in Show

Best in Sho

Everything is typed up except drawings and sketches. Graphs and charts created in a computer program give judges a visual of your data.

Sketches are always drawn in pencil first and retraced in marker or pen.

Bright boarders line the print material to add a pop of color.


Spudtac Grow Cut and tape this page and the next one together.

The project is presented on a strong, three-sided display board, with either a black or white background.

Science Fair Survival Guide Best in Show

t in Show A catchy, clearly written title in the center of the board.

dtacular rowth

Every word is spelled correctly. (“Affect” is used as a noun, while “effect” is a verb.)


ght 0 cm s 2 cm s 1 cm s


H2O 0m l 5m l 10 m l

Large, quality color photos with labels underneath are great for recording your progress.

All the pieces are glued on straight and evenly spaced. There isn’t too much crowding or white space. Laying out all the pieces before you start gluing saves time in the end!

Additional items, like your science journal, materials, and models are placed on the table in front of your board.


Science Fair Survival Guide Conclusion


cience is all around us. Any time you ask a question, explore a new place, or take a closer look at an object, you acting as a scientist! Now that you have the tools for a blue ribbon project, get out there and explore the world!



Science Fair Survival Guide science-fair-survival-guide-workbook.pdf

Science Fair Survival Guide Table of Contents Introduction Project Kickstarters The Five Types of Projects Schools of Thought The Great Science Pro...

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