Science Fair Projects Presented by Sean Mulvanity, Ed.D Teacher Specialist for Science, SCCPS Adapted from Janice VanCleave’s Science Fair Handbook Steps of a Science Fair Project 1. Scientific Method Research, Problem, Hypothesis, Experimentation, Conclusion 2. Topic Research Project Types, Three Steps to a Topic, Research a Topic, Topic Ideas 3. Project Research Primary Research, Secondary Research 4. Project Report Title Page, Table of Contents, Abstract, Introduction, Experiment and Data, Conclusion, Sources, Acknowledgements Steps of a Science Fair Project con’t 5. The Display Helpful Hints, Do’s and Don’ts, Safety 6. Presentation and Evaluation Judging Information, Do’s and Don’ts at the Fair Scientific Method The process of thinking through the possible solutions to a problem and testing each possibility to find the best solution. • Research • Problem • Hypothesis • Project Experimentation • Project Conclusion Research • The process of collecting information from students’ experiences, knowledgeable sources, and data from exploratory experiments. • Do use many references from printed sources • Do gather information from professionals – professors, media specialists, and scientists Problem • An “open-ended” scientific question to be solved • Example – “How does light affect the reproduction of bread mold on white bread? • Do limit your problem • Do choose a problem that can be solved experimentally Hypothesis • An idea about the solution to a problem based on knowledge and research • Ex. “I believe that bread mold does not need light for reproduction on white bread. I base my hypothesis on these facts: 1. Organisms with chlorophyll need light to survive. Molds do not have chlorophyll. 2. In my exploratory experiment, bread mold grew on white bread kept in a dark bread box.” Hypothesis con’t • Do state facts from past experiences or observations on which you base your hypothesis • Do write down your hypothesis before beginning the project experimentation • Don’t change your hypothesis even if experimentation does not support it. Project Experimentation • The process of testing a hypothesis using variables • The independent variable is the variable that you change • The dependent variable is the variable that is being observed, which changes in response to the independent variable • The controlled variable is not changed by the student Project Experimentation con’t • Do have only one independent variable during an experiment • Do repeat the experiment more than once to verify your results • Do have a control • Do have more than one control, with each being identical • Do organize data Project Conclusion • A summary of the results of the project experimentation and a statement of how the results relate to the hypothesis. • Don’t change your hypothesis • Don’t leave out experimental results that do not support your hypothesis • Do give possible reasons for the difference between your hypothesis and the experimental results • Do give ways that you can experiment further to find a solution Topic Research • Project Types • Three Steps to a Topic • Research a Topic • Topic Ideas Project Types • An Investigation – ex. How long does it take the heart to return to normal after exercise? • Construction of a Kit or Model – ex. A model of a solar home • Demonstration of a Scientific Principle – ex. Measuring lung capacity Three Steps to a Topic 1. Think of a topic you’re interested in. ex. People, animals, plants, rocks 2. Try to focus on one aspect of one topic. ex. People: What makes a person an adult? Animals: How can I best train my pet? Plants: How can plants best be protected from animals? Rocks: What do the different colors in rocks mean? Three Steps to a Topic con’t 3. Now use the same idea, but be more specific. Ex. People: How do third graders compare with adults? Animals: Does the length of an animal training session make a difference? Plants: Can companion planting protect beans from beetles? Rocks: How do you detect minerals in rocks? Research a Topic • Look closely at the World around you • Choose a topic from your experience • Find a topic in Science magazines • Select a topic from a book on Science fair projects or Science experiments Topic Ideas • Categories Astronomy; Biology: Zoology, Ecology, Microbiology; Earth Science: Geology – (Fossils/Archeology, Mineralogy, Rocks, Seismology, Volcanology), Meteorology, Oceanography, Paleontology; Engineering; Physical Science: Chemistry, Physics – (Electricity, Energy, Gravity, Magnetism); Mathematics Topic Ideas con’t • Great Project Ideas –How does the color of a background affect its absorption of solar insulation? On which foods does fungus grow best? How are teeth affected by fluorides and acids? Is there a relationship between phases of the moon and our weather? What kind of soil is best for water retention? Will antacids help soil polluted by acid rain? Project Research • The process of collecting information from knowledgeable sources. • How successful you are with your project will depend largely on how well you understand your topic. • Primary Research – information you collect on your own: Exploratory experiments, surveys, interviews and responses to letters/emails • Secondary Research – information/data that someone else has collected: book, magazine or periodical, newspaper, encyclopedia, software package, document from online service Project Report • The written record of your entire project from start to finish. • Title page, Table of contents, Abstract, Introduction, Experiment and Data, Conclusion, Sources, Acknowledgements Display Board • Do use computer-generated graphs • Do display photos representing the procedure and the results • Do use contrasting colors • Do limit the number of colors used • Do display models when applicable • Do attach charts neatly • Do use rubber cement or double sided tape to attach papers Display Board con’t • Don’t leave large empty spaces on the backboard • Don’t leave the table in front of the backboard empty • Don’t make the title or headings hard to read by using uneven lettering, words with letters of different colors, etc… • Don’t hand-print the letters on the backboard • Don’t make mistakes in spelling words or writing formulas Display Board con’t Questions?
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