How to do aScienceFair Project By Virginia Vilardi along with WHS and EMS 6th grade teachers
ALL projects must be APPROVED by your child’s Science teacher. The project is a test grade.
Start with a fresh idea • Make a list of your hobbies, things you enjoy, things you wish you were better at, or things you are curious about • Try “IF/THEN” statements to find a topic. “If I read my AR book for 30 minutes every night, then my reading comprehension will go up.” • “If I use a more expensive shot, then my hunting will be more accurate.” • “If I stretch for 30 minutes every night, then I will be able to do my splits.” • “If I am nice to my brother every time I see him, then he will start being nice to me.” • “If I change the angle of my elbow to copy Michael Jordan’s, then my free throws will become more accurate.”
www.sciencebuddies.org offers a free survey to help students find a science fair project. BEWARE! All websites that give project suggestions have to be double-checked. Quite often they are still giving demonstrations or experiments. The difference between those and approved projects its: Science Fair Projects are solving a problem through experimentation and has a variable.
Do NOT experiment on an animal in a way that could hurt it. Any project that could potentially harm an animal – physically or mentally - has to be overseen by a veterinarian.
Research • Use a variety of resources to study what other people have learned about your topic. Use your library, internet, field experts, and government officials. Copy the web address every time you visit a different website. You must ALWAYS give credit to your resources. • Research will develop into foundation for report.
Now it is time to develop the project • Design the Experiment • “If I energize my plant, then it will grow faster.” • 1. Water four identical plants with the same amount of liquid at the same time (record dates/times) • 2. Variables: use regular water, water with MiracleGro, coffee, and Vitamin Water • 3. Measure growth of plants daily (use the metric system to communicate results)
Independent variable: This is what you changed the two or three times you do the experiment. • This is the liquid you water your plants with • Dependent variable: This is what happens because of what you did. • Some plants will grow taller, while some won’t grow at all.
Test and Collect data • Analyze the results – use graphs and pictures to show which plants grew tallest, which didn’t grow, which died, etc. • Make conclusions – Did your results match your hypothesis or were you mistaken? What would you do next? • Prepare a report, abstract, project display board and oral presentation
Push the to reveal what is in each section. Let’s use a Project Display Board to show each of the major parts… Project Display Board Oral Presentation
Project Display Must be on a tri-fold board to continue on to the school-wide Science Fair. The Tri-fold board may be no bigger than 108 x 30 x 48 inches Your project may be presented on a poster folded into three sections for students interested in a grade, but not continuing on in competition
Good Title: Make it catchy, but represent your project. • Take Photographs: Show different steps of your project. • Be Organized: Make sure your tri-fold shows the steps of the scientific method in order and make the letters big enough to read from 6 feet away. • Eye-Catching: Make your display stand out. Use colorful headings, borders, layered information sheets with colored papers, and charts and graphs to present your project. • Label clearly: graphs, charts, diagrams, photographs, and tables should each should have an appropriate label describing what is being demonstrated.
Purpose/Problem • Once your topic is chosen, what do you want to know about it? • Make this into a statement. • Mrs. Ryals takes only a few students on her JV basketball team each year. She requires her girls to run a regular route. If I run that route daily, then will I get on the team next year?
Results • Use all senses to collect and record data from experiment. • “If students test in rooms in three different temperatures, they will do better in a warm room.” Record test data. Evaluate results. If students did best at cooler temperatures, share those results. Include student input, that they were miserable in the cold, but wide awake.
Sample Results • In every test, the “meteorite” changed or moved the river. We threw the rock in at several angles but always with a low trajectory because the actual meteorite came in at a low angle. Every time it formed a crater and moved the river several centimeters.
Sample Results Graph River Flow Change
Conclusion • Based on the results what did the experiment prove or disprove? • Was the hypothesis correct or incorrect? • What was learned?
Sample Conclusion • All of our tests proved that the actual meteorite would have moved the Coosa River changing its flow and direction. It also would have changed the topography of central Alabama. Our hypothesis was correct.
Sample BAAAD Topics • Volcano explosion – this is a demonstration. You are not solving a problem. • Solar System – this is research. We cannot control a variable about space. • Potato battery – this is a demonstration. If you are making a model because it is cool, it is NOT science fair material. • Science Fair is about solving a problem. If you’re not solving a problem, you’re not doing a science fair project.
Abstract • 250 word summary of project • Should include purpose, hypothesis, brief experimental procedure, results and conclusion – this is basically everything on your board, plus research, shrunk down to 12 point font. • We will do this only for county science fair
Sample Abstract • The purpose of this project was to prove that the meteorite that hit the Wetumpka, Alabama area changed the course of the Coosa River and the topography of central Alabama. • If we use our experiment as a guide, then we will be able to determine the effect the meteorite had on the Coosa River flow and direction as well as the topography of central Alabama. We believe the meteorite changed the course of the river and the land structure of central Alabama. • Procedure: construct stream table. Soil was added to form a the land and a river was etched in similar to how the Coosa River might have looked before the meteorite hit. Add water created a shallow sea on one end of the stream table. Launched the rock representing the meteorite at a low angle trajectory to create the impact crater zone. Test was repeated until correct angle trajectory was achieved. Results were recorded. • In every test, the “meteorite” changed or moved the river. We threw the rock in at several angles but always with a low trajectory because the actual meteorite came in at a low angle. Every time it formed a crater and moved the river several centimeters. • All of our tests proved that the actual meteorite would have moved the Coosa River changing its flow and direction. It also would have changed the topography of central Alabama. Our hypothesis was correct.
Model • Model or visual display items add interest and can be used with discussion with judges.
Report A good research paper should include everything that is on your board: a) Title Page and Table of Contents b) Introduction: The introduction includes purpose or problem, hypothesis, what prompted your research, and what you hoped to achieve with your project. c) Materials and Methods: Describe in detail the methodology you used. It should be detailed enough so that someone would be able to repeat the experiment from your information. d) Results: The results include data and analysis. This should include statistics, graphs, raw data, etc.
Report Continued e) Discussion: This is the meat of your paper. Compare your results with theoretical values, published data, commonly held beliefs, and/or expected results. Include possible errors. Did the data vary? What would you do differently if you repeated this project? What would you do next? f) Conclusions: Summarize your results. State your findings in relationships of one variable with the other. Support the statements with data. Be specific. State whether hypothesis was proven or disproved. Also mention practical applications. g) Acknowledgments: Credit those who have assisted you. h) References/Bibliography: Document anything that is not your own
International Science & Engineering Fair (High School Students Only) http://www.sciserv.org/isef/about/index.asp State Science & Engineering Fair (6th -12th Grade) Regional Science & Engineering Fair County Science & Engineering Fair (4th -12th Grade) School Science & Engineering Fair How far can your fresh idea take you?
For more assistance • http://www.sciserv.org/isef/document/hbk2007.pdf • http://www.uah.edu/ASEF/rules.htm • http://showboard.com/
The End Thank you! References: Alabama Power, Your Guide to Science Fair Projects, 1982. Baugh,Erin and Price, Elizabeth. The Stars Fell On Alabama, 2007. Driver, James and Holman, Jordan. Extreme Pyramid Engineering, 2007 http://www.sciserv.org/isef/document/hbk2007.pdf http://showboard.com/
Research Plan • The research plan for all projects is to include the following: • A. Question being addressed • B. Hypothesis/Problem/Engineering Goals • C. Description: Detail all procedures and experimental design to be used for data collection. Describe the procedures you will use to analyze the data that answer research question or hypothesis • D. Bibliography: List at least five (5) major references (e.g. science journal articles, books, internet sites) from your library research.
Examples of Science Fair Projects These should not be replicated by students this year.