Science Fair Survival Tips, Part 3

How to laser in on the scientific method and make it work for you and your project…

First and foremost, your project must answer a question.  That’s pretty much the heart of the scientific method… what question does YOUR project answer?  Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • Does more fuel result in a higher rocket altitude
  • Does it matter what angle the solar cell makes with the sun for maximum output?
  • How much weight can a kid lift using leverage?

You can either state your question as a ‘question’, or rewrite it as a hypothesis… but in either case, be sure it’s the most prominent thing on your display board.

You’ll need to figure out a way to clearly demonstrate how you did your experiment, and what you used to do it.  This is your Materials and Methods section, and this is a great place for photos.  You can itemize your list of steps, cal out a shopping list of materials, and outline your variable and controls.  Click here for more detail about how to vary your experiment using the scientific method.

After you’ve run your tests, gathered your data, taken your photos, you’ll need to analyze your data and finalize results. Which run had the highest rocket altitude? Which purified sample was the cleanest? This is a great place for tables, charts, and graphs that show your results all in one swoop.  Can you make a graph that a newbie can instantly pick out your results?

Once you’ve finalized your data into concrete results, you’ll need a section for Conclusions & Recommendations.  This section basically answers the initial question or hypothesis you had.  No, more fuel did not result in a higher rocket altitude gain, but if you were to do further experimentation (which is currently out of your scope – you’re doing school project, not working for NASA), you’d test out less fuel.  Extra credit points given for recommendations for further experiments that could be done as a follow-up to your own.

No need to re-invent the wheel!  References are the final step to every great book, project, and scientist-in-the-making.  Take advantage of other people’s work by standing on the shoulders of giants… and be sure to give credit where’s it’s due!  This may or may not make it onto your board (depending on how much you relied on outside sources for your work), but have a bibliography (computer-printed) sheet on hand in case you’re asked.

Well, there you have it – the best “Don’t forget these!” tips for making a great science fair project.

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