Science Fair 2009
Where to Start?
What is of interest to you?
Is it testable or measureable?
Lets make it Fun.
The Scientific Method
• The scientific method is the process all scientists use to investigate
science questions. It involves identifying a problem, learning what is
already known about that problem, thinking of a solution or answer (called a
hypothesis), doing an experiment to test your hypothesis, and reaching a
conclusion based on what you learned.
• So before you even begin your project, it is important that you understand
the scientific method. Using it to do your project takes some thought, but
that’s what science is all about!
• These steps must be repeatable in order to dependably predict any future
• The scientific method is a process for experimentation that is used to
answer questions and explore observations.
• Put the topic in the form of a question.
• Many project titles follow one of these
• How will __________affect __________?
• Variable result
• The Effects of __________on __________.
• Variable result
• Will __________when __________?
• Variable result
Table of Contents
State of Purpose 1
The Hypothesis 2
Background Research 3
Material List 4
Testing Procedure 5
Observation and Results 6
Variables and Controls 7
Make sure include page numbers when putting together your
• Why did you do this project?
• An introductory statement of the reason for investigating
the topic of the project.
• A statement of the problem or hypothesis being studied.
• The purpose section is where you include information that you
already know about your subject and/or you tell your project
readers why you chose the project you did. What were you
hoping to find out from the project?
• What did you think would happen?
• You must state your hypothesis in a way that you can readily measure.
• Once you have decided your research question, develop a hypothesis. Your hypothesis
is a prediction of your experiment's results. Before making a hypothesis, be sure you
have gathered all the information necessary to make an educated guess. Read available
background information, look at other studies done on your topic, and discuss your
project with experts.
• Remember, a good hypothesis predicts how two factors relate. Be sure you consider
all the variables that affect the ecosystem or area you're studying. What would
happen if you could change one variable at a time? Your hypothesis should clearly
state how one variable (the independent variable) will be changed and the effect it
will have on a second variable (the dependent variable). For example, "Variance in plant
type will enhance sand accumulation in sand dune restoration."
• Your project will be designed to test this hypothesis, so it must be stated in such a
way that can be tested through experimentation. In addition, predict your results in
measurable terms and use words like increase and decrease, or more or less, or higher
and lower to show the relationship you predict to observe between the two variables.
Do not use words like better to describe your predicted outcomes, as they do not
clearly define the expected results.
• Finally, keep in mind that your hypothesis does not have to be right--that will be
determined by the experiment. But remembering that your hypothesis will be the
foundation of your project should help guide all the steps of your experiment.
Material Used During
• What type of equipment will you need to complete your
• Make a materials list being as specific as possible, and
be sure you can get everything you need before you
• This should have been worked out and written down in
your log before you started, but there may be changes
as time goes on. Note these in the log, and date them,
but put a note on the main materials page, giving the
other page(s) where the changes are listed. This will
help you later on, when you are writing up
• List your procedure that you did step be step…
• Make a step-by-step list of what you will do to answer your research
question and test your hypothesis. Describe how you will take
measurements and how you plan to collect data. Will you use plots or
transects? Will you only make observational surveys or will you capture
(abiding all local and state regulations) the organisms you will be
studying? You should be very specific about how you are measuring
your results to prove or disprove your hypothesis.
• Your procedure should be very clear and repeatable. Could your family
or friends read through your proposal and repeat the experiment? Try
it out on a friend.
• When you are conducting your experiment, you need to make sure that
you are only measuring the impact of a single change.
Key Elements of the Procedure
for an Experiment
• Description and size of all experimental and control groups, as applicable
• A step-by-step list of everything you must do to perform your experiment. Think
about all the steps that you will need to go through to complete your experiment, and
record exactly what will need to be done in each step.
• The procedure must tell how you will change your one and only independent variable and
how you will measure that change
• The procedure must explain how you will measure the resulting change in the dependent
variable or variables
• If applicable, the procedure should explain how the controlled variables will be
maintained at a constant value
• The procedure should specify how many times you intend to repeat your experiment, so
that you can verify that your results are reproducible.
• Where will you conduct your experiment? You may need a lot of room for you
experiment or you may not be able to move your experiment around from place to
place. If you are working with human or animal subjects, you may need a location that
is quiet. You will need to think about these limitations before you start your
experiment so you can find a location in advance that will meet your needs.
Make a chart
• Before beginning, prepare a data table to help you
collect your data. A data table will ensure that you are
consistent in recording your data and will make it easier
to analyze your results once you have finished your
Observations and Results
• At this stage, you want to be organizing and analyzing the data that you
have collected during the course of your experiment in order to summarize
what your experiment has shown you.
Data Analysis & Graphs take some time to carefully review all of the data
you have collected from your experiment. Use charts and graphs to help you
organize the data and patterns. Did you get the results you had expected?
What did you find out from your experiment? Really think about what you
have discovered and use your data to help you explain why you think certain
• A spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel may be a good way to
perform such calculations, and then later the spreadsheet can be used to
display the results. Be sure to label the rows and columns--don't forget to
include the units of measurement (grams, centimeters, liters, etc.).
• You should have performed multiple trials of your experiment. Think about
the best way to summarize your data. Do you want to calculate the average
for each group of trials, or summarize the results in some other way? Or,
is it better to display your data as individual data points?
Observations and Results
• In science fair projects as in life, "a
picture is worth a thousand words."
Plan to take pictures of the materials
you used and of the experiment as it
is being carried out
Variables and Controls
• The independent variable is the factor that will influence the predicted
outcome. The dependent variable is the factor that is being observed,
such as area biodiversity. The controlled variables are factors that
are not changed. Remember that your experiment can only test one
independent variable at a time, and you must have a control group set
up to compare the data obtained.
• In simple terms when you put together your test - change only one
thing at a time..
• Scientists use an experiment to search for cause and effect
relationships in nature. In other words, they design an experiment so
that changes to one item cause something else to vary in a predictable
way. These changing quantities are called variables. Variables are a
key element of the scientific method.
Variables and Controls
• Scientists use an experiment to search for cause and effect relationships in nature. In other words,
they design an experiment so that changes to one item cause something else to vary in a predictable
• These changing quantities are called variables, and an experiment usually has three kinds:
independent, dependent, and controlled.
• The independent variable is the one that is changed by the scientist. In an experiment there is only
one independent variable.
• As the scientist changes the independent variable, he or she observes what happens.
• The dependent variable changes in response to the change the scientist makes to the independent
variable. The new value of the dependent variable is caused by and depends on the value of the
independent variable. For example, if you open a faucet (the independent variable), the quantity of
water flowing (dependent variable) changes in response--the water flow increases. The number of
dependent variables in an experiment varies, but there is often more than one.
• Experiments also have controlled variables. Controlled variables are quantities that a scientist wants
to remain constant, and he must observe them as carefully as the dependent variables. For example,
if we want to measure how much water flow increases when we open a faucet, it is important to make
sure that the water pressure (the controlled variable) is held constant. That's because both the
water pressure and the opening of a faucet have an impact on how much water flows. If we change
both of them at the same time, we can't be sure how much of the change in water flow is because of
the faucet opening and how much because of the water pressure. Most experiments have more than
one controlled variable. Some people refer to controlled variables as "constant variables."
• Your conclusion should summarize the results of your
experiment and show how these results relate to your
hypothesis. Does the experiment answer your research
question? If your results were different from your
hypothesis, provide some possible reasons. Critically
evaluate your results and compare them to other studies
or to your research of existing literature. What would
you change in your research? Was there variability? How
could you further test your hypothesis? Is there a new
question that now should be addressed? Could this
knowledge be shared with the community to enhance
• Your conclusions summarize how your results support or contradict your original
• Summarize your results in a few sentences and use this summary to support your
conclusion. Include key facts from your background research to help explain your
results as needed.
• State whether you proved or disproved your hypothesis. (Engineering & programming
projects should state whether they met their design criteria.)
• If appropriate, state the relationship between the independent and dependent variable.
• Summarize and evaluate your experimental procedure, making comments about its
success and effectiveness.
• Suggest changes in the procedure (or design) and/or possibilities for further study.
• If the results of your experiment did not support your hypothesis, don't change or
manipulate your results to fit your original hypothesis, simply explain why things did not
go as expected. If you think you need additional experimentation, describe what you
think should happen next. Scientific research is an ongoing process, and by discovering
that your hypothesis is not true, you have already made huge advances in your learning
that will lead you to ask more questions that lead to new experiments. Science fair
judges do not care about whether you prove or disprove your hypothesis; they care
how much you learned.
• You should have a minimum of three written sources of information about
your topic from books, encyclopedias, and periodicals. You may have
additional information from the Web if appropriate.
• There are standards for documenting sources of information in research
papers. Following are standard formats and examples for basic
Author. Title: Subtitle. Place of publication: Publisher, Date.
Allen, Thomas B. Vanishing Wildlife of North America. Washington, D.C.:
National Geographic Society, 1974.
• Searles, Baird and Martin Last. A Reader's guide to Science Fiction. New
York: Facts on File, Inc., 1979.
• Magazine & Newspaper Articles
Author. "Title of Article." Title of Periodical Volume # (Date): Pages.
Kanfer, Stefan. "Heard Any Good Books Lately?" Time 113 (21 July
• Kalette, Denise. "California Town counts Down to Big Quake." USA Today
9 (21 July 1986): sec. A:1.
• Website or Webpage
Author (if available). "Title of page." Editor (if
available). Date (if available). Institution. [cited
Access Date]. URL.
(simply omit any information that you do not have)
Devitt, Terry. "Lightning injures four at music
festival." August 2, 2001. The Why? Files. [cited
23 January 2002].
• Article from an Encyclopedia
Author. "Title of Article." Title of Encyclopedia.
Pettingill, Olin Sewall, Jr. "Falcon and Falconry."
World Book Encyclopedia. 1980.
• Make sure you Thank all that helped you along the way.
• If people helped you, say so. List them by name, and
state briefly what they did to help. It is normal to list
them by alphabetical order of surname. For email
contacts, list the email addresses as well. As a rule,
keep this section brief.
• An abstract is a brief, one-page summary of your
science project. (ISEF guidelines state that an
abstract should be no more than 250 words.) Your
abstract should present the essence of your
• a brief description of your experiment's purpose;
• an overview of your procedure;
• a short description of the data; and
• and a brief explanation of your conclusions.
• For help writing an abstract and to see a sample
abstract, go to
4 Elements of an Abstract
• Purpose of the Experiment
– An introductory statement of the reason for investigating the topic of the
– A statement of the problem or hypothesis being studied.
– A summarization of the key points and an overview of how the investigation was
– An abstract does not give details about the materials used unless it greatly
influenced the procedure or had to be developed to do the investigation.
– An abstract should only include procedures done by the student. Work done by a
mentor (such as surgical procedures) or work done prior to student involvement
must not be included.
– This section should provide key results that lead directly to the conclusions you
– It should not give too many details about the results nor include tables or graphs.
– Conclusions from the investigation should be described briefly.
– The summary paragraph should reflect on the process and possibly state some
applications and extensions of the investigation.
3 Requirements for the
• The Project Journal: All the data gathered in your project
journal needs to be included as part of your final
presentation. Accurate and detailed notes on your data
demonstrate the thoroughness of your investigation. See
the next slide for more information.
• The Abstract - See the other Chart on how to put
together an abstract
• The Report - See the Table of contents for the basic
items in a report
• Throughout the process of doing your project, you should keep a journal containing all of your
important ideas and information. This journal is called a laboratory notebook.
• You should always keep a project journal handy to record the progress of your report.
• Each day you spend in the field, record a journal entry with detailed and accurate notes about your
observations. Every entry should include the following:
• Date and time
• Exact location where data is being collected (perhaps with a map of the area and coordinates of each
• Description of location, including biotic and abiotic factors
• Weather conditions (temperature, wind, cloud cover, precipitation)
• Species observed (Include a list with estimates of the number of individuals encountered. If you
collect any specimens, be sure to catalog them with detailed measurements and location descriptions.)
• Other observations and questions (Use your senses and record what you see, hear, smell, and touch.)
• Your journal may also include photographs to help explain and demonstrate your experimental results
and to provide visual information for your final project presentation. Be very precise in describing
where your photographs are taken and label them accurately.
elements of a science
• Title Page
• Table of Contents
• Abstract: The Abstract is a short summary of the project and includes the key highlights of your experiment: purpose,
procedure, and conclusions. Following are some tips on writing your abstract from the California State Science Fair :
– Objectives: State the purpose or hypothesis upon which the project is based.
– Materials and Procedures: Indicate the materials and procedures used in your project. Briefly describe your experiment or
– Results: Summarize the results of your experiment and indicate how they pertain to your purpose or hypothesis.
– Conclusions/Discussion: Indicate if your results supported your hypothesis or enabled you to attain your objective. Discuss
briefly how information from this project expands our knowledge about the category subject. If you did an engineering or
programming project, state whether you met your design criteria.
• Question and Hypothesis: The question that you are trying to answer with your experiment. Be sure to clearly state
your hypothesis at the end.
• Review of Literature: Background information that reflects the knowledge you have acquired, through your research,
on the topic your of your experiment. You should be providing the reader with useful background information for your
• Materials and Procedure (Research Plan): This is essentially your research plan. You should be certain to include a list
of all materials that were used in your experiment and how they were used. It is best to present your procedure in steps
and to include as much detail as possible about measurements and techniques in each step.
• Results: A precise recap of what you found out in your experiment, focusing on your observations and data, leaving all
interpretation for the Conclusion section.
• Conclusion: A summary of your interpreta tion of the data and results of the experiment. You should restate the
hypothesis and whether you found the hypothesis to be true or false. You should also comment on how the results of the
experiment satisfied your original purpose.
• Acknowledgments: This is your opportunity to thank anyone who helped you with your project, from a single individual to
a company or government agency.
• Reference List / Bibliography
• Table and Figures: Include tables, charts, and photographs that further help explain your experiment and results.
Display Board basics
• Choose a catchy, attention-grabbing title that accurately summarizes your
research. The title should be big and easily read from across the room.
• Organize your information like a newspaper so that your audience can
quickly follow the thread of your experiment by reading from top to
bottom, then left to right. Include each step of your project: Question
and/or purpose, hypothesis, variables, background research, and so on.
• Check the rules for your fair. Many fairs don't want you to put your name
on your board, others do. Some let you display physical objects like
equipment, some don't.
• If your fair allows it, take advantage of the space on the table in front of
your board to help describe your project. You can display your
experimental apparatus or models and perhaps your project notebook.
• For some fairs you will actually have a chance to meet and speak with the
judges. If you prepare for these interviews, they're a great opportunity to
create a positive impression of your work.
• Preparing for Judging—Practice Makes Perfect!
– If you can communicate your project well, you maximize your chances of winning.
– Write up a short "speech" (about 2–5 minutes long) summarizing your project. You will
give this speech when you first meet the judges. (Remember to talk about the theory
behind your project—why your project turns out the way it does.)
– Organize a list of questions you think the judges will ask you and prepare/practice
answers for them. Practice explaining your project to others and pretend they are
– Practice explaining your project in simple terms so anyone can understand it.
• Presenting Yourself During the Judging Period—Be Professional!
– Always dress nicely for the judging period—NO JEANS!
– Make good use of your board. Point to diagrams and graphs when you are discussing
– Always be positive and enthusiastic!
– Be confident with your answers; do not mumble.
– If you have no idea what the judge is asking, or do not know the answer to their
question, it is okay to say "I do not know."
– Treat each person who visits you like a judge, even nonscientists.
– After the fair, always ask for feedback from the judges to improve your project.
• Are organic or inorganic fertilizers more effective?
• Compare rate of plant growth using two different growth hormones
• Do plants grow at different rates when given different plant foods?
• Do Plants Grow Better in Water or Soil?
• Do plants grow faster when grown hydroponically instead of in soil?
• Does a pineapple grow best in sand, soil or water?
• Does classical music help plants grow?
• Does gravity affect the direction in which plants grow?
• Camouflage in Animals
• Can you determine the sex of a person by just looking at his/her feet?
• Do boys and girls have different resting pulse rates?
• Do different types of sunblock have different protection strengths?
• Do groups of people have different blood pressure readings?
• Do people from different backgrounds have different lung capacities?
• Does caffeine raise a person's blood pressure?
• Does the body become cooler more quickly with the help of a fan? If so, why?
• Are poems with lots of rhythm, rhyme, and different sound devices easier to learn than those
written in free verse?
• Does eating your breakfast help you perform better in school?
• Examine the stroop effect (the effect of color on visual selective attention) and does it
affect men or women differently?
• How much do students know about deforestation?
• How well can a person remember things that he or she sees on television?
• Is colored or black & white text more easily remembered?
• Is there such thing as a superior teaching method?
• Will doing more homework help students perform better in exams?
• Are children better motivated by rewards or punishment?
• Do boys react faster than girls?
• Does our sense of smell and sight affect how food tastes?
• Does music affect a child's ability to nap restfully?
• How good are children at estimating measurements?
• Are ants picky over their food? Do they have any preference?
• Do ants react differently in the dark?
• Do changes in the environment such as temperature and light affect shrimp in
their choice of habitats?
• Do cockroaches have a sense of direction?
• Are carbon filters less effective when the water contains more chlorine?
• Are waters in urban areas more polluted than in rural areas?
• Do detergents affect plant growth?
• Examine how much Carbon Dioxide is produced by different gas sources? This
helps us understand the impact of these gas sources on global warming.
• How can plants be used to measure the level of air pollution?
• How do oil spills affect marine life?
• How much pollution can water take before it becomes unsafe? Does this differ
between different water sources?
• Do different brands of orange juice contain different levels of vitamin C?
• Do different brands of popcorn leave different amounts of unpopped kernels?
• Do different methods of cooking potatoes produce a different taste?
• Do peanuts contain enough energy for heating water? How do you measure this
• Does the PH level of the acid in our stomachs affect the digestion of proteins?
• Can water be split into oxygen and hydrogen?
• Do white candles burn faster than colored candles?
• How do differences in surfaces affect the adhesion of tape?
• How does the PH level of rainwater differ from one place to another?
• Is the burning of trash a viable alternative to land-fills?
• What are the different methods of purifying water?
• Which brand of cooking spray works best?
• Explain how the tilt of the earth works
• How to build a homemade magnetometer to study how the earth's magnetic fields
are affected by solar storms
• How to make your own sundial
• How to measure the diameter of the sun
• What is parallax and how can it be used to measure the distance of objects?
• Demonstrate and explain magnetic field shielding
• Does the angle at which the Sun's rays fall on a solar cell affect the power that's
• Does the number of turns of wire in an electromagnet affect its strength?
• High-Ampere Magnetism!
• How do magnetic field lines look like?
• How does a change in temperature affect the current, voltage and power
generated by a solar cell?
• How does a hydroelectric plant produce electricity using water?
• How to build a lightning storm detector (Franklin's Bells)
• How to build a simple electric generator
• How to build a wind turbine generator
• What the factors that affect the strength of an electromagnet?
Forces and Motion
• Can quarters and feathers fall at the same speed?
• Compare how different types of balls bounce and determine what are the factors
that contribute to this difference
• Demonstrate the use of a lever and the impact of lever length
• Determine which type of laminated beam is the strongest
• Experiments with buoyant forces
• How does the shape and mass of an object affect its velocity when sinking through
• How does the type of surface of an inclined plane affect how far and fast an object
• What is the best way to configure shock absorbers?
• What is the most efficient angle for windmill blades?
• What is the relationship between Potential and Kinetic energy?
• What makes a parachute work?
• Which Bridge Design is Stronger?
• Which household items are best for lubricating metal?
• Analyze the different heat retention capabilities of straw, sand, paper and cloth
• Do different brands of sunscreen have different strengths?
• Do different colors absorb heat differently?
• Do different gases expand differently when heated?
• Does black or white color absorb light better?
• Does the color of your hair affect its ability to keep your head warm?
• Does wind increase the rate of evaporation?
• How does rubber respond to heat?
• Which materials are the best insulators? What factors affect insulation?
• Does the viscosity of liquids affect the shape of droplets?
• What color can be seen most clearly through a fog?
• Compare the effect of various commercially antibacterial soaps on bacteria
• Comparing the effectiveness of different disinfectants against bacteria
• Do spices in cooking kill microorganisms?
• Does bacteria become more resistant to an antibiotic when exposed repeatedly to
• Does dog saliva kill bacteria effectively?
• How do electric fields affect E.coli bacteria?
• How much bacteria do our hands contain?
• What is the effect of Chlorox on bacteria
• What is the effect of ultra violet light on bacteria?
• What types of acne medication are most effective against acne caused by
• How do different temperatures affect the growth of fungi?
• What are fungi?
• How to grow your own yeast fungus
• What is the Effect of Different Carbohydrates on Yeast Fermentation?
• What is the effect of ultraviolet light on yeast fermentation?
• What is the rate of fermentation of different fruit juices?
• Do cell sizes differ, depending on the size of the organism?
• What is the Effect of Anhydrous Ammonia on the Dehydration Rate of Plant and
• Do different colors of light affect plants differently?
• Prove increased starch increases the process of photosynthesis in the green plant.
• The effect of Different Light Wavelengths on Photosynthesis
• What side of a plant's leaf takes in atmospheric gases?
• Does one bad apple spoil the whole bunch?
• How does the plant hormone Rootone affect plant growth?
Medicine and Heath
• Which brand of furnace filter strains air particles best?
• Compare the effectiveness of different body lotions.
• Determine the effectiveness of a sunscreen product by measuring the extinction
coefficient of its active ingredients.
• Effectiveness of Sunscreens Against Ultra Violet Light Experiment
• The Effect of Shampoos on the Tensile Strength of Hair
• The Effect of Mouthwash on Alpha Streptococcus
• What types of mouthwash will be the most effective against bacteria?
• What types of soda have the worst effect on our teeth?
• Comparing Resting and Exercising Blood Pressure of 7th Grade Students
• Comparing the Performance of Human Body Fat Measurement Devices
• Comparing Two Types of Music on the Naptime Resting Behavior of Sleeping
• Does Antibacterial Hand Soap Kill More Bacteria Than Non-Antibacterial Hand Soap?
• How does body mass index affect the cardiovascular system?
• Is there a correlation between a person's looks and friendliness?
• What are the most effective cleaning agents for our teeth?
• Which Pain Reliever Has a Faster Dissolution Time: Brand or Generic?
• Can people tell the difference in the taste between regular and low fat foods?
• The Effect of Gatorade Vs. Water on 7th Graders' Pulse Rates while Exercising
• Does the level of air pollution vary during the week?
• How to identify biodegradable materials
• Absorption of Pollutants in Different Soil Types.
• Do Deicers Affect Radish Survival?
• Does Organic Material Affect The Absorbency Of Water In Soil?
• Effect of Chlorine Concentration on the Germination of Soybeans
• Examine the Effect of Past use of Land on Arsenic Levels in The Soil Today
• The Effect of Different Detergents on Pea Growth
• The Effect of Propylene Glycol on the Growth of Radishes
• Understanding the role of cycling in preventing soil pollution
• What environmental problems do diapers cause in landfills?
• How to effectively keep our water supplies clean through filtration.
• Which method is the most effective for treating water for chemicals, heavy metals
• Optimization of Cell Phone Service
• Playing music with mathematical formulae
• Weight and Number of Raisins per Ounce in a Box of Cereal
• Determining whether buying or renting a house is a better financial decision
• How accurate is the bell curve at predicting probability?
• Predicting earthquakes based on past statistics
• Predicting hurricanes based on past statistics
• Will a more aggressive artificial intelligence program stand a higher change of
• Compare the strengths of different types of bridges
• Do sound barriers reduce noise? If so, what types of barrier is most effective?
• Does the particle size of sand used to make bricks matter?
• Compare the porosity of different types of soil
• Demonstrate how erosion happens in different ways
• What causes landslides?
• What causes a tsunami? Demonstrate this with a model
• Describe how fog forms
• Does the amount of moisture in the atmosphere vary from place to place?
• What is soil erosion? Demonstrate how it happens