Science Fair Success- Middle School
Mrs. Emily Hoffman
South Pasadena Middle School
Below are the basic steps that we follow in our Science Fair process. We start in
October and finish in late February.
This project is completed by all 8th grade students at our site. Students have the
opportunity to work on the project individually or in a team of two. When working as a team
student projects must justify a team approach and will require double the length for many of
the parts. (Students must complete a partner contract.)
The science fair is not just an experiment or a board. Students work through all of the
steps of the scientific method as they participate in the process. This is one of the biggest
projects that many students have completed in their academic careers. They will be using
science, math, writing skills, computer literacy and even art as they progress through the steps.
Steps in the Science Fair
1. Parent letter (early October)
a. Contains an overview of the expectations and limitations as to the scope of the projects.
b. 2011 science fair letter (on Science Fair website)
2. Pick a topic (mid October)
a. Students must find an experiment that they want to work with from a book or reliable
internet source. (Science Buddies or Education.com are great examples)
3. Write the cause and effect question (Late October)
a. Forces many found experiments to transform from demonstrations to actual experiments!
b. Expected format: How does changing (the independent variable) effect (the dependant
variable) and how is it quantified?
c. Cause and Effect Questions (on Science Fair website)
4. Determine the scientific principle that will be manipulated in the experiment- Students often need
help to determine the specific concept.
5. Write a research paper on the scientific principle; photosynthesis, sun spots, solders, pesticides, etc.
a. Research project -overview (on Science Fair website)
b. Research paper how to write
c. Research paper template
6. Write the Experimental Procedure (Late November)
a. Use format from science book as a guideline
b. Experimental Procedure Basics (Power Point) (on Science Fair website)
c. Procedure Template (on Science Fair website)
d. Procedure Science Fair (and example) (on Science Fair website)
7. Create empty data tables (early December)
a. Data Table Samples (excel) (on Science Fair website)
8. Complete experiment (December)
a. Students get TWO weeks total to complete their experiment! (If they procrastinate they will
do it during their winter break!)
9. Create set of graphs (early January)
a. Set of 6!
i. One of each variation of the variable (5)
ii. One of the averages!
California State Science Fair: Getting Started with Your Project http://www.usc.edu/CSSF/Resources/GettingStarted.html
Science Buddies; Topic Selection Wizard http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/recommender_register.php
b. Must use excel or other computer program
c. Science Fair Graph Guidelines (on Science Fair website)
10. Write the abstract (January)
a. General overview of the project, including hypothesis, procedure, variable,
data collected, and results.
b. 125-200 words
c. Science Fair Abstract (on Science Fair website)
11. Compile “the book” (late January/early February)
a. Science Fair Report (overview) (on Science Fair website)
Discovery Schools Science Fair Central http://school.discoveryeducation.com/sciencefaircentral/
Great sources for student and teacher support for all aspects for the Science Fair
b. Science Fair Report (template) (on Science Fair website)
c. Science Fair Report Rubric (Excel) (on Science Fair website)
12. Create display board
a. Science Fair Display Board (on Science Fair website)
13. Science Fair Open House! (Mid March)
a. Science Fair Check off list (on Science Fair website)
Information for the LA County Science & Engineering Fair
March 29-31, 2011 at the Pasadena Convention Center
March 29 (Thurs) Project drop off
March 30 (Fri) Interviews
March 31 Public Viewing & Awards
Additional links can be found on my science fair page!
Registration Deadline is January 20, 2011.
Registration/participation fee of $200; save 20% when registration is complete
with payment by November 30, 2011.
For further information contact
Dean C. Gilbert; Science/Math
All documents listed above and more can
be found on my Science Fair page.
Permission granted for classroom use;
please leave author name in footer.