Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 3
A GUIDE TO
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 4
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 5
Once the topic is selected, you begin what
science project is an investigation using
the scientiﬁc method to discover the is called project research. This is research to
answer to a scientiﬁc problem. Before help you understand the topic, express a prob-
starting your project, you need to understand lem, propose a hypothesis, and design one or
the scientiﬁc method. This chapter uses more project experiments—experiments
examples to illustrate and explain the basic designed to test the hypothesis. An example
steps of the scientiﬁc method. Chapters 2 of project research would be to place a fresh
through 4 give more details, and Chapter 5 loaf of white bread in a bread box and observe
uses the scientiﬁc method in a sample project. the bread over a period of time as an
The scientiﬁc method is the “tool” that sci- exploratory experiment. The result of this
entists use to ﬁnd the answers to questions. It experiment and other research gives you the
is the process of thinking through the possi- needed information for the next step—identi-
ble solutions to a problem and testing each fying the problem.
possibility for the best solution. The scientiﬁc Do use many references from printed
method involves the following steps: doing sources—books, journals, magazines,
research, identifying the problem, stating a and newspapers—as well as electronic
hypothesis, conducting project experimenta- sources—computer software and
tion, and reaching a conclusion. on-line services.
Do gather information from profes-
RESEARCH sionals—instructors, librarians, and
scientists, such as physicians and
Research is the process of collecting infor-
mation from your own experiences, knowl-
edgeable sources, and data from exploratory Do perform other exploratory experi-
experiments. Your ﬁrst research is used to ments, such as those in the 50 science
select a project topic. This is called topic project ideas in Part II.
research. For example, you observe a black
growth on bread slices and wonder how it PROBLEM
got there. Because of this experience, you
decide to learn more about mold growth. Your The problem is the scientiﬁc question to
topic will be about fungal reproduction. be solved. It is best expressed as an “open-
(Fungal refers to plantlike organisms called ended” question, which is a question that is
fungi, which cannot make their own food, answered with a statement, not just a yes or a
and reproduction is the making of a new no. For example, “How does light affect the
offspring.) reproduction of bread mold on white bread?”
CAUTION: If you are allergic to mold, this Do limit your problem. Note that the
is not a topic you would investigate. Choose a previous question is about one life
topic that is safe for you to do. process of molds—reproduction; one
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 6
type of mold—bread mold; one type of Do write down your hypothesis before
bread—white bread; and one factor that beginning the project experimentation.
affects its growth—light. To ﬁnd the Don’t change your hypothesis even if
answer to a question such as “How does experimentation does not support it. If
light affect molds?” would require that time permits, repeat or redesign the
you test different life processes and an experiment to conﬁrm your results.
extensive variety of molds.
Do choose a problem that can be solved
experimentally. For example, the ques- PROJECT EXPERIMENTATION
tion “What is a mold?” can be answered Project experimentation is the process of
by ﬁnding the deﬁnition of the word testing a hypothesis. The things that have an
mold in the dictionary. But, “At room effect on the experiment are called variables.
temperature, what is the growth rate There are three kinds of variables that you
of bread mold on white bread?” is a need to identify in your experiments:
question that can be answered by independent, dependent, and controlled.
experimentation. The independent variable is the variable
you purposely manipulate (change). The
dependent variable is the variable being
HYPOTHESIS observed that changes in response to the
A hypothesis is an idea about the solution independent variable. The variables that are
to a problem, based on knowledge and not changed are called controlled variables.
research. While the hypothesis is a single The problem in this chapter concerns the
statement, it is the key to a successful project. effect of light on the reproduction of bread
All of your project research is done with the mold. The independent variable for the experi-
goal of expressing a problem, proposing an ment is light and the dependent variable is
answer to it—the hypothesis, and designing bread mold reproduction. A control is a test
project experimentation. Then all of your proj- in which the independent variable is kept con-
ect experimenting will be performed to test stant in order to measure changes in the
the hypothesis. The hypothesis should make dependent variable. In a control, all variables
a claim about how two factors relate. For are identical to the experimental setup—your
example, in the following sample hypothesis, original setup—except for the independent
the two relating factors are light and bread variable. Factors that are identical in both the
mold growth. Here is one example of a experimental setup and the control setup are
hypothesis for the earlier problem question: the controlled variables. For example, prepare
“I believe that bread mold does not need the experiment by placing three or four loaves
light for reproduction on white bread. I base of white bread in cardboard boxes the size of
my hypothesis on these facts: a bread box, one loaf per box. Close the boxes
so that they receive no light. If, at the end of a
• Organisms with chlorophyll need light to
set time period, the mold grows, you might
survive. Molds do not have chlorophyll.
decide that no light was needed for mold
• In my exploratory experiment, bread mold reproduction. But, before making this deci-
grew on white bread kept in a dark bread sion, you must determine experimentally if
box.” the mold would grow with light. Thus, control
groups must be set up of bread that receives
Do state facts from past experiences or light throughout the testing period. Do this
observations on which you based your by placing an equal number of loaves in
hypothesis. comparable-size boxes, but leave them open.
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 7
The other variables for the experimental and a statement of how the results relate to the
control setup, such as the environmental con- hypothesis. Reasons for experimental results
ditions for the room where the boxes are that are contrary to the hypothesis are
placed—temperature and humidity—and the included. If applicable, the conclusion can end
brand of the breads used must be kept the by giving ideas for further testing.
same. These are controlled variables.
If your results do not support your hypothesis:
Note that when designing the procedure of
your project experiment, include steps for Don’t change your hypothesis.
measuring the results. For example, to mea- Don’t leave out experimental results that
sure the amount of mold growth, you might do not support your hypothesis.
draw 1⁄2 inch (1 cm) squares on a transparent
sheet of plastic. This could be placed over the Do give possible reasons for the difference
bread and the number of squares with mold between your hypothesis and the experi-
growth could be counted. Also, as it is best to mental results.
perform the experiment more than once, it is Do give ways that you can experiment fur-
also good to have more than one control. You ther to conﬁrm the results of your origi-
might have one control for every experimen- nal experiment.
If your results support your hypothesis:
Do have only one independent variable
during an experiment. For example, you might say, “As stated in
my hypothesis, I believe that light is not nec-
Do repeat the experiment more than once essary for bread mold to reproduce. My
to verify your results. experimentation supports the idea that bread
Do have a control. mold will reproduce without light. After 21
days, bread mold had grown both on testing
Do have more than one control, with each samples kept in the dark and also on the con-
being identical. trol samples in the light. It is possible that
Do organize data. (See Chapter 5, “A temperature is a factor and that the tempera-
Sample Project,” for information on ture was higher inside the closed boxes due
organizing data from experiments.) to lack of air circulation. For further testing, I
would select temperature as the independent
variable and test the effect of temperature
PROJECT CONCLUSION changes on the growth of bread mold.”
The project conclusion is a summary of
the results of the project experimentation and
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 8
repeatedly jump from one topic to another.
ow that you understand the scientiﬁc
method, you are ready to get started. You may in fact decide to stick with your origi-
nal idea even if it is not as exciting as you had
expected. You might just uncover some very
KEEP A JOURNAL interesting facts that you didn’t know.
Remember that the objective of a science
Purchase a bound notebook to serve as project is to learn more about science. Your
your journal. This notebook should contain project doesn’t have to be highly complex to
topic and project research. It should contain be successful. Excellent projects can be devel-
not only your original ideas but also ideas you oped that answer very basic and fundamental
get from printed sources or from people. It questions about events or situations encoun-
should also include descriptions of your tered on a daily basis. There are many easy
exploratory and project experiments as well ways of selecting a topic. The following are
as diagrams, graphs, and written observations just a few of them.
of all your results.
Every entry should be as neat as possible LOOK CLOSELY AT THE WORLD
and dated. A neat, orderly journal provides a
complete and accurate record of your project AROUND YOU
from start to ﬁnish, and it can be used to write You can turn everyday experiences into
your project report. It is also proof of the time a project topic by using the “exploring”
you spent searching out the answers to the question “I wonder . . . ?” For example, you
scientiﬁc mystery you undertook to solve. often see cut ﬂowers in a vase of water. These
You will want to display the journal with your ﬂowers stay pretty for days. If you express
completed project. this as an exploring question—“I wonder, why
do cut ﬂowers last so long in a vase of
water?”—you have a good question about
SELECTING A TOPIC plants. But could this be a project topic? Think
Obviously you want to get an A+ on your about it! Is it only the water in the vase that
project, win awards at the science fair, and keeps the ﬂowers fresh? Does it matter how
learn many new things about science. Some the ﬂower stems are cut? By continuing to ask
or all of these goals are possible, but you will questions, you zero in on the topic of water
have to spend a lot of time working on your movement through plants.
project, so choose a topic that interests you. Keep your eyes and ears open, and start
It is best to pick a topic and stick with it, but if asking yourself more exploring questions,
you ﬁnd after some work that your topic is such as “I wonder, why does my dad paint our
not as interesting as you originally thought, house so often?” “I wonder, do different
stop and select another one. Since it takes brands of paint last longer?” “I wonder, could I
time to develop a good project, it is unwise to test different kinds of paint on small pieces of
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 9
wood?” To know more about these things, you What you can look for are facts that interest
can research and design a whole science fair you and that lead you to ask exploring ques-
project about the topic of the durability of tions. An article about Antarctic animals
different kinds of paint. You will be pleasantly might bring to mind these exploring
surprised at the number of possible project questions: “I wonder, how do penguins stay
ideas that will come to mind when you warm?” “I wonder, do fat penguins stay
begin to look around and use “exploring” warmer than skinny penguins?” Wow! Body
questions. insulation, another great project topic.
There are an amazing number of comments
stated and questions asked by you and those SELECT A TOPIC FROM A BOOK
around you each day that could be used to ON SCIENCE FAIR PROJECTS
develop science project topics. Be alert and
listen for a statement such as “He’s a chip off OR SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS
the old block, a southpaw like his dad.” If you Science fair project books, such as this
are in the searching phase of your science one, can provide you with many different
fair project, this statement can become an topics to choose from. Even though science
exploring question, such as “I wonder, what experiment books do not give you as much
percentage of people are left-handed?” or “I direction as science fair project books, many
wonder, are there more left-handed boys can provide you with exploratory “cookbook”
than girls?” These questions could lead you experiments that tell you what to do, what the
to developing a project about the topic of results should be, and why. But it will be up to
genetics (inheriting characteristics from you to provide all the exploring questions
one’s parents). and ideas for further experimentation. The
50 project ideas described in this book can
CHOOSE A TOPIC FROM YOUR further sharpen your skills at expressing
EXPERIENCE exploring questions. A list of different project
and experiment books can be found in
Having a cold is not pleasant, but you Appendix A.
could use this “distasteful” experience as a
means of selecting a project topic. For SOMETHING TO CONSIDER
example, you may remember that when you
had a cold, food did not taste as good. Ask You are encouraged not to experiment
yourself, “I wonder, was this because my nose with vertebrate animals or bacteria. If you
was stopped up and I couldn’t smell the food?” do wish to include them in your project, ask
A project about taste and smell could be very your teacher about special permission forms
successful. After research, you might decide required by your local fair organization.
on a problem question such as “How does Supervision by a professional, such as a
smell affect taste?” Propose your hypothesis veterinarian or physician, is usually required.
and start designing your project experiment. The project must cause no harm or undue
For more on developing a project, see stress to the subject.
Chapter 5, “A Sample Project.”
FIND A TOPIC IN SCIENCE
Don’t expect topic ideas in science maga-
zines to include detailed instructions on how
to perform experiments and design displays.
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 10
2. zoology: The study of animals and
very fair has a list of categories, and you
need to seek your teacher’s advice when animal life. Subtopics may include
deciding which category you should the following:
enter your project in. It is important that you a. anatomy: The study of the struc-
enter your project in the correct category. ture and use of animal body parts,
Since science fair judges are required to judge including vision and hearing.
the content of each project based on the
category in which it is entered, you would be b. behaviorism: The study of actions
seriously penalized if you were to enter your that alter the relationship between
project in the wrong category. Listed here are an animal and its environment.
common science fair categories with a brief c. physiology: The study of life
description of each. Some topics can correctly processes of animals, such as molt-
be placed in more than one category; for ing, metamorphosis, digestion,
example, the structure of plants could be in reproduction, and circulation.
botany or anatomy. Each of the 50 project
ideas in Part II is labeled with the category 3. ecology: The study of the relationships
in which the project could be entered. The of living things to other living things
categories are and to their environment.
• astronomy: The study of the solar system, 4. microbiology: The study of micro-
stars, and the universe. scopic living things or parts of living
• biology: The study of living things.
• earth science: The study of the Earth.
1. botany: The study of plants and
plant life. Subtopics may include the 1. geology: The study of the Earth,
following: including the composition of its layers,
its crust, and its history. Subtopics may
a. anatomy: The study of the struc- include the following:
ture of plants, such as cells and
seed structure. a. fossils: Remnants or traces of
prehistoric life-forms preserved in
b. behaviorism: The study of actions the Earth’s crust.
that alter the relationship between a
plant and its environment. b. mineralogy: The study of the com-
position and formation of minerals.
c. physiology: The study of life
processes of plants, such as propa- c. rocks: Solids made up of one or
gation, germination, and transporta- more minerals.
tion of nutrients.
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 11
d. seismology: The study of earth- a. electricity: The form of energy
quakes. associated with the presence and
movement of electric charges.
e. volcanology: The study of
volcanoes. b. energy: The capacity to do work.
2. meteorology: The study of weather, c. gravity: The force of attraction
climate, and the Earth’s atmosphere. between two bodies; the force that
pulls objects toward Earth.
3. oceanography: The study of the
oceans and marine organisms. d. machines: Devices that make
4. paleontology: The study of prehistoric
life-forms. e. magnetism: The force of attraction
or repulsion between magnetic
• engineering: The application of scientiﬁc
poles, and the attraction that mag-
knowledge for practical purposes.
nets have for magnetic materials.
• physical science: The study of matter and
• mathematics: The use of numbers and
symbols to study amounts and forms.
1. chemistr y: The study of the materials
geometr y: The branch of mathematics
that substances are made of and how
that deals with points, lines, planes,
they change and combine.
and their relationships to one another.
2. physics: The study of forms of energy
and the laws of motion. Subtopics
include studies in the following areas:
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 12
about the speed of dinosaurs. “Who would
nce you have completed the topic
research and selected a topic, you are know about dinosaurs?” Start with your
ready to begin your project research. science teacher. He or she may have a special
This research is generally more thorough interest in dinosaurs or know someone who
than topic research. Project research is the does. Is there a museum with dinosaur
process of collecting information from knowl- exhibits nearby? Owners of rock and mineral
edgeable sources, such as books, magazines, shops may have an interest in fossils and
software, librarians, teachers, parents, scien- could provide information. Contact the geol-
tists, or other professionals. It is also data ogy department of a local university.
collected from exploratory experimentation. Before contacting the person(s) you want
Read widely on the topic you selected so that to interview, be prepared. You can do this by
you understand it and know about the ﬁnd- making a list of questions that you want to
ings of others. Be sure to give credit where ask. You can even discuss what you know
credit is due and record all information and about your topic with someone who knows
data in your journal. nothing about it. In so doing, you will be
How successful you are with your project forced to organize your thinking and may
will depend largely on how well you under- even discover additional questions to add to
stand your topic. The more you read and your list. Once your list is complete, you are
question people who know something about ready to make your call. Simple rules of cour-
your topic, the broader your understanding tesy, such as the following, will better ensure
will be. As a result, it will be easier for you to that the person called is willing to help.
explain your project to other people, espe- 1. Identify yourself.
cially a science fair judge. There are two basic
kinds of research—primary and secondary. 2. Identify the school you attend and your
PRIMARY RESEARCH 3. Brieﬂy explain why you are calling. Include
information about your project and explain
Primar y research is information you col- how the person can help you.
lect on your own. This includes information
from exploratory experiments you perform, 4. Request an interview time that is conve-
surveys you take, interviews, and responses nient for the person. This could be a tele-
to your letters. phone or face-to-face interview. Be sure to
Interview people who have special knowl- say that the interview will take about 20 to
edge about your topic. These can include 30 minutes.
teachers, doctors, scientists, or others whose 5. Ask if you may tape-record the interview.
careers require them to know something You can get more information if you are
related to your topic. Let’s say your topic is not trying to write down all the answers.
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 13
It may be that the person is free when you addition to interviewing. Check at the end of
call, so be prepared to start the interview. articles in periodicals for lists of names and
addresses where more information can be
6. Be on time, and be ready to start the
obtained. Your librarian can assist you in
interview immediately. Also, be courteous
locating current periodicals related to your
and end the interview on time.
topic. If your project deals with a household
7. Thank the person for the time given and product, check the packaging for the address
the information provided. of the manufacturer. Send your letter to the
8. A written thank-you note should be sent public relations department. Ask for all avail-
after the interview, so be sure to record able printed material about your topic. Send
the person’s name and address. your letter as soon as possible to allow time
for material to be sent. You can use a form
You may write letters requesting informa- letter similar to the one shown here to make
tion instead of interviewing, or write letters in it easier to send it to as many different people
and organizations as you can ﬁnd.
Lacey Russell SECONDARY RESEARCH
231 Kids Lane Secondar y research is information
Woodlands, OK 74443 and/or data that someone else has collected.
You ﬁnd this type of information in written
August 31, 2005 sources (books, magazines, and newspapers)
and in electronic sources (CD-ROM encyclo-
The Dial Corporation pedias, software packages, or on-line services,
15101 North Scottsdale Road such as the Internet). When you use a sec-
Station 5028 ondary source, be sure to note where you got
Scottsdale, AZ 85254 the information for future reference. If you are
required to write a report, you will need the
Dear Director: following information for a bibliography or to
give credit for any quotes or illustrations you
I am a sixth-grade student currently use.
working on a science project for the
Davin Elementary Science Fair. My Book
project is about conditions affecting bac- Author’s name, title of book, place of
terial growth. I would greatly appreciate publication, publisher, copyright date,
any information you could send me on and pages read or quoted.
the “anti-bacterial” properties of your
Magazine or periodical
product. Please send the information as
soon as possible. Author’s name, title of article, title of
magazine, volume and issue number and
Thank you very much. date of publication, and page numbers
Author’s name, title of article, name of
Lacey Russell newspaper, date of publication, and section
and page numbers.
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 14
Encyclopedia USE YOUR RESEARCH
Name of encyclopedia, volume number, Now you are ready to use the project
title of article, place of publication, research information and data collected to
publisher, year of publication, and page express the problem, propose a hypothesis,
numbers of article. and design and perform one or more project
CD-ROM encyclopedia or software package experiments. The project research will also
be useful in writing the project report. The
Name of program, version or release following chapters, 5 through 8, guide you
number, name of supplier, and place where step-by-step through a sample project from
supplier is located. start to ﬁnish. You may want to read these
Documents from on-line services chapters more than once and refer back to
them as you progress through your project.
Author of document (if known), title of
document, name of organization that
posted document, place where organiza-
tion is located, date given on document,
on-line address or mailing address where
document is available.
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 15
A Sample Project
ick a topic. Each of the 50 project ideas in
Part II begins with a detailed exploratory
experiment. Read some or all of these
easy experiments to discover the topic you like PROBLEM
best and want to know more about. Regardless When is the Sun at its highest altitude during the day?
of the topic you choose for the science fair, what
you discover from any of these experiments will Figure 5.1 Sample Experiment Title
make you more knowledgeable about science. and Problem
How can you turn a project idea from this
book into your own unique project?
This chapter uses a project idea similar in Materials
format to those found in Part II. The detailed
5 tablespoons (75 ml) plaster of paris
exploratory experiment will be referred to as 2 tablespoons (30 ml) tap water
the sample experiment and is used for several 3-ounce (90-ml) paper cup
purposes. Like all exploratory experiments, masking tape
its main purpose is to provide research data 36-inch (1-meter) piece of string
on which to base a hypothesis. But in this yardstick (meterstick)
chapter, it is also used as a model for a project protractor
experiment. During the experimentation helper
phase of your project, you can use the follow-
ing data-collecting techniques and other ideas Figure 5.2 Sample Experiment Materials List
to design, develop, and ﬁne-tune your project.
not be acceptable for your project. Because
KEEPING YOUR PROJECT you’ll know so much more after doing the
JOURNAL sample experiment and other research, let’s
Every step of the way, you will keep a wait before deciding on the title and problem
journal in which to record the progress of question.
the project. After experimentation has been
completed, the journal will be very useful to MATERIALS
you when you begin to write your project As Figure 5.2 shows, all the materials for
report. Chapter 6 explains how to write a the sample experiment, like those for all the
project report. experiments in this book, can be found
around the house or purchased without much
TITLE AND PROBLEM money at a local grocery or hardware store.
QUESTION Collect the supplies before you start the
The title and problem question for the sam- experiment. You will have less frustration and
ple experiment (see Figure 5.1) may or may more fun if all the materials are ready before
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 16
you start. Substituting materials is not sug-
gested, but if something is not available,
ask an adult’s advice before using different
Note that each of the project ideas in Part
II contains more than one exploratory experi-
ment. The “Materials” section at the begin-
ning of each project contains only the
materials for the ﬁrst experiment. Be sure to
read through the entire project prior to start-
ing to determine all the materials you’ll need
to complete each experiment. NOTE:
Approximate metric equivalents have been Figure 5.4 Procedure Setup
given after all English measurements. Both
English and metric units are given in this book, sured at speciﬁc times during the day. The
but the metric system is often suggested for time of day is the independent, or manipu-
science fair projects because of its ease in lated, variable. The measured altitude of the
measuring small quantities. Sun at this time is the dependent, or respond-
ing, variable. All other variables, such as the
PROCEDURE latitude and season, are the controlled, or con-
The “Procedure” section for the sample stant, variables.
experiment (see Figure 5.3) contains the
steps needed to complete the experiment. RESULTS
Figure 5.4 shows the procedure setup. As Before you can state the results of an
described in Chapter 1, a variable is anything experiment, you must ﬁrst organize all the
that has an effect on the experiment. In the data collected during experimentation.
sample experiment, the Sun’s altitude is mea- Numbers, called “raw data,” have little mean-
ing unless you organize and label them. Data
from each experiment needs to be written
Procedure down in an orderly way in your journal. Use a
CAUTION: Do not look directly at the Sun. It can damage your eyes. table (a diagram that uses words and num-
1. Use the pencil point to mix the plaster of 5. At 8:00 A.M. standard time, set the meas-
paris and water in the paper cup. Stand uring stick on a ﬂat surface outdoors in a bers in columns and rows to represent data)
the pencil, eraser end up, vertically in sunny area with its pointer end toward
the mixture and do not disturb until the Sun. to record data (see Figure 5.5). Use a graph,
the mixture hardens. This may take
30 minutes or more. NOTE: Do not
6. Set the cup in the middle of the stick.
Adjust the pointer end of the stick so that
such as a bar graph (a diagram that uses
wash plaster down the drain. It can clog
the shadow cast by the pencil falls on the
stick. Move the cup back and forth along
2. Tear away the paper cup above the hard- the stick until the end of the pencil’s
ened plaster and tape one end of the shadow touches the measuring line. SUN ALTITUDE
string to the top of the pencil.
7. Hold the cup in place and extend the
3. Starting at the 0 end of the measuring string between the top of the pencil and
stick, tape the protractor so that it the measuring line. Ask a helper to read Time Altitude (degrees, °)
stands perpendicular to the surface of the angle where the string crosses the
the measuring stick with the 0 degree protractor. 8:00 A.M. 14
mark on the protractor even with the
8. Repeat steps 5 through 7 at these times
surface of the stick. The end of the stick
opposite the protractor will be called the
during the day: 10:00 A.M., 12:00 P.M. 10:00 A.M. 28
(noon), 2:00 P.M., and 4:00 P.M.
NOTE: If the shadow is longer than the 12:00 P.M. 42
4. Place a piece of tape across the measur-
measuring stick, place two measuring sticks
ing stick even with the center of the pro-
tractor. Make a mark across the tape to
end to end. 2:00 P.M. 28
mark the center of the protractor. This
will be called the measuring line. 4:00 P.M. 14
Figure 5.3 Sample Experiment Procedure Figure 5.5 Example of a Table for
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 17
SUN ALTITUDE SUN DIRECTION
Altitude (degrees, °)
42 Time Direction
6:00 A.M. (sunrise) east (E)
8:00 A.M. southeast (SE)
10:00 A.M. southeast (SE)
12:00 P.M. (noon) south (S)
2:00 P.M. southwest (SW)
8:00 A.M. 10:00 A.M.12:00 P.M. 2:00 P.M. 4:00 P.M. 4:00 P.M. southwest (SW)
6:00 P.M. (sunset) west (W)
Figure 5.6 Example of a Bar Graph Figure 5.8 Table of Sun Directions
shown in Figure 5.8. Prepare a second table
expressing the number of hours the Sun is in
the eastern (E and SE) and western (W and
Altitude (degrees, °)
35 SW) parts of the sky, as shown in Figure 5.9.
28 Then, express the same data as percentages
21 in a pie chart, as shown in Figure 5.10. Note
14 that illustrations of rising and setting suns are
7 placed around the circle to add interest to the
8:00 A.M. 10:00 A.M.12:00 P.M. 2:00 P.M. 4:00 P.M. A pictograph could be used to represent
(Noon) the results of an experiment measuring the
Sun’s altitude at noon over a three-month
Figure 5.7 Example of a Line Graph period. A pictograph is a chart that contains
symbols representing data, such as quantities
bars to represent data) similar to the one of an object. In the pictograph shown in
shown in Figure 5.6 to analyze (separate and Figure 5.11, each sun represents an altitude of
examine) data. Figure 5.7 shows another way 4 degrees. Pictographs are easy to read and
to represent the data. This ﬁgure is a line can add a little fun to your data display.
graph (a diagram that uses lines to express The data charted in Figure 5.5 was used to
patterns of change). write a statement of the changes in altitude of
There are other useful ways to represent the Sun as observed in the sample project, as
data. A circle graph, or pie chart, is a chart shown in Figure 5.12.
(data or other information in the form of a Photographs are another way to display
table, graph, or list) that shows information in data. Have someone take a photograph of you
percentages. The larger the section of the cir- performing the experiment, as in Figure 5.4,
cle, the greater the percentage represented.
The whole circle represents 100 percent, or SUN DIRECTION
the total amount. For example, a pie chart can
Direction Hours Percentage of Day
be used to represent the results of an experi-
ment determining the direction of the Sun at eastern (E and SE) 6 50
different times during one day, from sunrise western (W and SW) 6 50
to sunset. To make a pie chart, ﬁrst record the
directions at different times in a table, as Figure 5.9 Table of Sun Directions
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 18
Figure 5.13 shows an explanation of the
results of the sample experiment. This infor-
mation, along with the other research, will be
used to develop a project problem, hypothe-
sis, and experiment(s).
Extending the line formed by the string
points to the position of the Sun. The angle
between this line and the measuring stick
is equal to the angle of the Sun above the
Figure 5.10 Pie Chart of Sun Directions horizon. Thus, the angle measured is equal to
the Sun’s altitude (angular height above the
horizon). At noon, standard time, the Sun is at
or near its highest altitude during the day.
The Sun appears to move across the sky.
Actually, the Sun is not moving. Instead, the
Earth is rotating on its axis, giving the illusion
that the Sun is moving across the sky. Since
the axis of the Earth is tilted in relationship
to the Sun, the maximum height of the Sun
in the sky during the day changes as the Earth
revolves (moves in a curved path about an
object) around the Sun.
Figure 5.13 Sample Experiment Explanation
This is the point at which you begin to ask
different exploring questions as the basis for
Figure 5.11 Example of a Pictograph
more research ideas, such as “I wonder,
where on Earth does the Sun reach its high-
est altitude?” or “I wonder, how does the lati-
tude of a location affect the Sun’s altitude?
Results Wow! That last question is great.” You’ll ﬁnd
that the more you think about the sample
The altitude of the Sun increases before noon, experiment, the more exploring questions
is highest at noon, then decreases after noon.
you’ll be able to think of and the better your
questions will be. Figure 5.14 shows exploring
Figure 5.12 Sample Experiment Results questions and how to ﬁnd their answers by
changing the sample experiment. The experi-
or take photos of the procedure setup to use ments in this and the following sections could
as part of the project display. Use the format be performed and the data added to the
of the procedure shown in Figure 5.3 as research information. Another use would be
a guideline to design your own project as aids in designing your project experiment(s).
experiment. Before any further experimentation, read
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 19
through “Let’s Explore,” “Show Time!”, and ments. (When you design your own experi-
“Check It Out!”. ments, make sure to get an adult’s approval if
you use supplies or procedures other than
those given in this book.) Again, these experi-
LET’S EXPLORE ments can provide project research or ideas
1. Does the Sun’s maximum altitude change for designing your project experiment(s).
from day to day? Repeat the experiment
measuring the Sun’s altitude at noon for 7
or more days. CHECK IT OUT!
2. How does the Sun’s maximum altitude
At this point, you are ready for in-depth
compare at different latitudes on the same research on the topic. The questions asked at
day? Ask friends at latitudes higher and this point (see Figure 5.16) require some sec-
lower than yours to perform the original ondary research. A good place to start your
experiment at noon on a speciﬁc day. research is the library. Earth science books
Compare and report the results. have sections on the Sun, its motion, its loca-
tion, and the heat from its rays. Science exper-
Figure 5.14 Sample Experiment “Let’s Explore” iment books are also a good source of
information and provide experiments to use
SHOW TIME! as well.
You will discover from these sources that
The “Show Time!” section in Figure 5.15 as the Earth revolves around the Sun, the
shows two ideas related to the sample experi- Sun’s maximum altitude during the day
ment. It offers different experimental ideas increases and decreases. The higher the
for further investigation of the topic, as well as Sun’s altitude, the more direct the rays and
more ideas for designing your own experi- generally the higher the temperature. Wow!
1a. As Earth revolves around the Sun, its axis clay to support the model. With a drawing
always points in the same direction. But since compass, draw a 1-inch (2.5-cm) circle in the
Earth’s axis is tilted 23.5 degrees in relation- center of a 12-by-12-inch (30--by-30-cm) piece
ship to its orbit, the ends of the axis tilt of white poster board. Label the circle “Sun.”
toward the Sun during part of the year and On the edges of the poster board, label these
away from the Sun for part of the year. As a seasons in a counterclockwise order: “Spring,”
result, the altitude of the Sun changes during “Summer,” “Fall,” “Winter.” Stand the Earth
the year. These changes produce seasons model on the edge of the poster board labeled
(periods of the year characterized by speciﬁc “Summer” with the top of the toothpick tilted
weather). The four seasons on Earth are toward the Sun and the wall beyond Sun. Note
spring, summer, fall and winter. Demonstrate that the top part of the model (the Northern
the position of Earth in its orbit when the Sun Hemisphere) tilts toward the Sun and the bot-
is at its highest altitude in the Northern tom part (the Southern hemisphere) tilts away
Hemisphere. This would be summer, the from the Sun.
warmest season. Prepare an Earth model by
using a rounded toothpick to draw a circle 1b. With the toothpick still tilted toward the wall,
around the middle of a grape-size ball of move the model in a counterclockwise direc-
modeling clay. Insert the toothpick through tion from one season to the next. Prepare a
the clay ball so that the line you just drew diagram indicating the areas of Earth where
circles the clay as the Earth’s equator circles the Sun is at its highest altitude during each
the globe. Use another grape-size piece of season.
Figure 5.15 Sample Experiment “Show Time!”
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 20
That’s why it’s so hot during the summer Both of the examples have the same goal
when the Sun is so high in the sky. This is a of discovering how the angle of the Sun’s rays
real-life experience that you are using to affects air temperature, but the ﬁrst example
help you with your project. You will want to is short and quickly read. Keep in mind that
draw from your personal experiences, not your project will be judged at the science fair,
only when looking for a topic as discussed in and you want each judge to know immediately
Chapter 2, but also during your project the single purpose for your project.
research. With your problem stated, it’s time to
develop the hypothesis. The hypothesis might
CHECK IT OUT! be “I believe that the size of Sun ray angles at
noon cause seasonal temperatures, small
1. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun is at angles causing warm temperatures and large
its highest altitude on or about June 21.
This time is called the summer solstice. At
angles causing cold temperatures.” This
this time, the apparent motion of the Sun hypothesis is based on these facts:
reaches its northernmost point, which is
the Tropic of Cancer (latitude 23.5 degrees • In my research, I discovered that shadow
north of the equator). Find out more about angles are the same as the angles of the
the apparent motion of the Sun. Where is Sun’s rays, and the shadow angles change
its southernmost point and when does it during the day as well as from season to
reach this point? What and when is the season.
winter solstice? What and when are the
equinoxes? • In my exploratory experiment, shadow
Earth’s equator receives about 2 ⁄2 times angles were least at or near noon and
as much heat during the year as does the greatest in early morning and late evening.
areas around its Poles. How does the angle
of the Sun’s rays affect the heating of • I’ve observed that early morning and late
Earth’s surface? evening are generally the coolest parts of a
day and midday is warmest.
Figure 5.16 Sample Experiment
“Check It Out!”
NOW YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN
PROBLEM AND HYPOTHESIS Test your hypothesis by designing a project
After collecting and analyzing your project experiment(s) to determine if the angle of the
research, it’s time to zero in on the problem. Sun’s rays during different seasons affects
Let’s say you’ve decided to investigate the temperature. You might use the instrument in
relationship between the angle of the Sun’s the exploratory experiment to measure the
noon rays and air temperature. The question Sun’s ray angle. The ray angle would be equal
doesn’t have to be complex and wordy to be to the angle of the pencil’s shadow, which is
good. Make it as simple and to the point as the angle between the top of the pencil and
possible. Look at these two examples: the stretched string. Since the least shadow
angle is at or near noon, a comparison of
1. How does the angle of the Sun’s rays at shadow angles and temperatures at noon dur-
noon affect seasonal temperatures? ing different seasons can be made. Once you
2. Does the difference in the angle of the have designed one or more experiments, col-
Sun’s rays at noon affect the amount of lect data, construct tables and graphs, draw
energy received by Earth’s surface? If so, diagrams, and take photos to represent
how does that difference affect tempera- results. The control can be when the Sun is at
ture during different seasons? its lowest or highest angle.
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 21
UNEXPECTED RESULTS? experimental materials might have been
moved during the experiment:
What do you do if your results are not what
you expected? First, if there is time, repeat Do say: “There is a possibility that I did
the experiment and make sure everything is not consider daylight savings time each
done properly. If there isn’t time for this, or time I took measurements. This problem
if you get the same unexpected results again, could be solved by always using the
don’t panic. A scientist’s hypothesis often is same watch or clock set to standard
not supported by his or her experiments. time.”
Report the truth in your conclusion. Don’t say: “My sister gave me the wrong
Assuming your research supported your time. I need to ﬁnd someone who is bet-
hypothesis, state your hypothesis as before, ter at telling time.”
but truthfully say that while your research
backed up your hypothesis, your experimen- It may be that after evaluating your data,
tal results did not. Say what you expected you may decide that your original hypothesis
and what actually happened. Report every- was incorrect. If so, say this and give reasons
thing—if anything supported the hypothesis, for your change of mind.
identify it. Continue by giving reasons why Now it’s time to sum up the entire project
you think the results did not support your by writing a detailed report. Review the next
original ideas. Make your explanation chapter for advice on how to put together a
scientiﬁc. For example, if you think the science-fair project report.
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 22
The Project Report
Your teacher can give you the local fair’s rules
our report is the written record of your
entire project from start to ﬁnish. When for this. The title should be attention getting.
read by a person unfamiliar with your It should capture the theme of the project but
project, the report should be clear and should not be the same as the problem
detailed enough for the reader to know exactly question. A good title for the sample project
what you did, why you did it, what the results detailed in Chapter 5 is shown in Figure 6.1.
were, whether or not the experimental evi-
dence supported your hypothesis, and where Up and Down:
you got your research information. This writ- Seasonal Temperature versus Sun Ray Angle
ten document is your spokesperson when you
are not present to explain your project, but Figure 6.1 A Project Title
more than that, it documents all your work.
Much of the report will be copied from TABLE OF CONTENTS
your journal. By recording everything in your
journal as the project progresses, all you need The second page of your report is the table
to do in preparing the report is to organize of contents. It should contain a list of every-
and neatly copy the journal’s contents. Tables, thing in the report that follows the contents
graphs, and diagrams can be neatly and color- page, as shown in Figure 6.2
fully prepared. If possible, use a computer to
prepare some or all of these data displays.
Check with your teacher for the order and Contents
content of the report as regulated by the local 1. Abstract
fair. Generally, a project report should be type- 2. Introduction
written, double-spaced, and bound in a folder 3. Experiment(s)
or notebook. It should contain a title page, a 4. Data
table of contents, an abstract, an introduction, 5. Conclusion
the experiment(s) and data, a conclusion, a 6. Sources
list of sources, and acknowledgments. The 7. Acknowledgments
rest of this chapter describes these parts of a
project report and gives examples based on Figure 6.2 A Table of Contents
the sample project in Chapter 5.
TITLE PAGE The abstract is a brief overview of the
The content of the title page varies. Some project. It should not be more than 1 page and
fairs require that only the title of the project should include the project title, a statement of
be centered on the page. Normally, your name the purpose, a hypothesis, a brief description
would not appear on this page during judging. of the procedure, and the results. There is no
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 23
one way to write an abstract, but it should be you have used. The introduction shown in
brief, as shown in Figure 6.3. Often, a copy of Figure 6.4 does not use footnotes.
the abstract must be submitted to the science
fair ofﬁcials on the day of judging, and it is a
good idea to have copies available at your dis- Introduction
play. This gives judges something to refer to The air temperature generally changes quite a bit dur-
when making ﬁnal decisions. It might also be ing the day, but any change from one day to the next at
used to prepare an introduction by a special the same time of day is, as a rule, relatively small. But
the temperature of some regions changes signiﬁcantly
award sponsor, so do a thorough job on this over the course of a year, resulting in different seasons.
part of your report. While reading about my project topic, the effect of the
angle of the Sun’s rays at noon on seasonal tempera-
tures, I thought about my own experience of the Sun’s
high noon altitude and small shadow angles occurring at
the same time as high summer temperatures. Further
Up and Down: research provided the facts that as the angle of the
Seasonal Temperature versus Sun Ray Angle Sun’s rays decreases, the more concentrated the rays,
The purpose of this project was to ﬁnd out whether thus the hotter the area of Earth receiving them. I rea-
the angle of the Sun’s rays at noon affects seasonal soned that the angle of the Sun’s rays at noon must
temperatures. The experiments involved measuring the change during the year.
air temperature and the angle of the Sun’s rays at noon My curiosity about the relation of angle of the Sun’s
during different seasons. This was done by recording rays to temperature resulted in a project that has as its
air temperature and measuring the angle of shadows purpose to discover how the angle of the Sun’s rays
at noon on the ﬁrst day of the month from October affects air temperature during the year and thus causes
through April. seasons. Based on previous stated research and the fact
The measurements conﬁrmed my hypothesis that as that it is cooler in the morning when the angle of the
the angle of the Sun’s rays decreases during the year, Sun’s rays is least due to the Sun’s low altitude, my
the outdoor temperature increases. These ﬁndings led hypothesis was that as the angle of the Sun’s rays
me to believe that seasonal temperatures are the result increases during the year, the outdoor temperature
of the difference in the angle of the Sun’s rays. As the increases, causing seasons.
ray angle decreases, sunlight is more concentrated on
an area, resulting in a higher temperature.
I discovered that during seasons with high tempera- Figure 6.4 Introduction
tures, the angle of the Sun’s rays is lower than during
seasons with low temperatures.
Figure 6.3 An Abstract EXPERIMENTS
Each project experiment should be listed
in the experiment section of the report.
INTRODUCTION Experiments should include the problem of
The introduction is a statement of your the experiment, followed ﬁrst by a list of the
purpose, along with background information materials used and the amount of each, then
that led you to make this study. It should con- by the procedural steps in outline or para-
tain a brief statement of your hypothesis graph form, as shown in Figure 6.5. Note that
based on your research. In other words, it the experiment described in Figure 6.5 deter-
should state what information or knowledge mines the average monthly angle of the Sun’s
you had that led you to hypothesize the noon rays during 7 consecutive months. A
answer to the project’s problem question. second experiment is needed to measure the
Make references to information or experi- average temperature of each month. The
ences that led you to choose the project’s experiments should be written so that anyone
purpose. If your teacher requires footnotes, could follow them and expect to get the same
then include one for each information source results.
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 24
SUN RAY ANGLES AT NOON
Purpose Month Angle (degrees, °)
To determine the angle of the Sun’s rays at noon
(standard time) during different seasons.
yardstick (meterstick) December 24
cup with pencil and string prepared in the Sample January 31
Procedure March 48
1. At around 11:45 A.M., set the measuring stick on a April 56
ﬂat surface in a sunny area outdoors with its pointer
end facing the horizon directly below the Sun.
Figure 6.6 A Table
2. Set the cup in the middle of the stick. Move the
pointer end of the stick so that the shadow cast by
the pencil falls on the stick.
SUN RAY ANGLES AT NOON
3. At 12:00 P.M. (noon), move the cup back and forth
Average Monthly Angle (degrees, °)
along the stick until the end of the shadow touches
the measuring line. NOTE: If the shadow is longer
than the measuring stick, place two measuring sticks 50
end to end.
4. Hold the cup in place and extend the string from the
top of the pencil to the measuring line. Ask a helper
to use the protractor to measure the angle between
the pencil and string. 30
5. Repeat steps 1 through 3 one or more times each
week during 6 or more consecutive months. 20
6. Average the angles measured for each month. Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr
Figure 6.5 An Experiment Figure 6.7 Example of a Bar Graph
Following each experiment, include all The conclusion summarizes, in about one
measurements and observations that you took page or less, what you discovered based on
during each experiment. Graphs, tables, and your experimental results, as shown in Figure
charts created from your data should be 6.8. The conclusion states the hypothesis and
labeled and, if possible, colorful. Figure 6.6 indicates whether the data supports it. The
shows a table and Figure 6.7 a bar graph for conclusion can also include a brief description
the experiment shown in Figure 6.5. If there of plans for exploring ideas for future experi-
is a large amount of data, you may choose to ments.
put most of it in an appendix, which can be
placed in a separate binder or notebook. If SOURCES
you do separate the material, a summary of
the data should be placed in the data section Sources are the places where you obtained
of the report. information, including all of the written mate-
rials as well as the people you have interviewed.
For the written materials, write a bibliography.
See “Secondary Research” in Chapter 4 for
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 25
information about bibliographies. People that ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
you interviewed should be listed separately, in
alphabetical order by last name. Provide title Even though technically your project is to
and with permission give their address and be your work alone, it is permissible to have
business phone number, as shown in Figure some help. The acknowledgments is not a list
6.9. Do not list home addresses or phone of names, but a short paragraph stating the
numbers. names of the people and how they helped you,
as shown in Figure 6.10. Note that when list-
ing family members or relatives, it is generally
Conclusion not necessary to include their names.
As stated in my hypothesis, I believe that the size
of Sun ray angles at noon cause seasonal temperatures,
small angles causing warm temperatures and large
angles causing cold temperatures. The experimental I would like to thank the members of my family who
data supported my hypothesis, indicating a direct rela- assisted me with this project; my mother, who proof-
tion between the angle of the Sun’s rays and the air read and typed my report, and my father and sister,
temperature. This direct relation between the ray who assisted in the construction of the display board.
angles and the temperatures was found to apply over A special note of thanks to Dr. Lauren Russell,
different seasons. The smaller the ray angle, the professor of astronomy at Lacey University, and to
warmer the season, and the greater the angle, the Davin Wade, her assistant, for their expert guidance.
cooler the season. Experimental data also showed an
inverse relation between the Sun’s noon altitude and
the angle of the Sun’s rays; thus, as the altitude of the
Sun increases, its ray angle decreases. The experiments
Figure 6.10 Acknowledgments
conﬁrmed that more direct Sun rays (those with the
least angle) heat the earth more.
Through my research as well as experience, I
discovered that the length of each day is not exactly
the same. Ideas for a future experiment would be to
determine the effect of day length on the average
Figure 6.8 A Project Conclusion
100 Rainy Drive
San Francisco, California 00001
Figure 6.9 An Interview Source
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 26
ﬂuorescent colors, the bright colors will be
our science fair display represents all
the work that you have done. It should what catches the eye instead of your work.
consist of a backboard, the project The title and other headings should be neat
report, and anything that represents your and large enough to be read at a distance of
project, such as models made, items studied, about 3 feet (1 m). A short title is often eye-
photographs, surveys, and the like. It must catching. Self-sticking letters, of various sizes
tell the story of the project in such a way that and colors, for the title and headings can be
it attracts and holds the interest of the viewer. purchased at ofﬁce supply stores and stuck to
It has to be thorough, but not too crowded, so the backboard. You can cut your own letters
keep it simple. out of construction paper or stencil the letters
The allowable size and shape of the display for all the titles directly onto the backboard.
backboard can vary, so you will have to check You can also use a word processor to print the
the rules for your science fair. Most exhibits title and other headings.
are allowed to be 48 inches (122 cm) wide, 30 Some teachers have set rules about the
inches (76 cm) deep, and 108 inches (274 cm) position of the information on the backboard.
high (including the table it stands on). These The following headings are examples: Problem,
are maximum measurements, so your display Hypothesis, Experiment (materials and proce-
may be smaller than this. A three-sided back- dure), Data, Results, Conclusion, and Next
board is usually the best way to display your
work. Sturdy cardboard or other heavy
material is easier to work with and is less
likely to be damaged during transportation
to the fair. Wooden panels can be cut and
hinged together. Some ofﬁce supply stores
sell inexpensive premade backboards. If
these are not available in your area, see
Appendix C for science supply companies
from which you can order inexpensive
Purchased backboards generally come in
two colors, black and white. You can use a
different color by covering the backboard
with self-stick colored shelving paper or
cloth. For items placed on the back-
board, select colors that stand out
but don’t distract a viewer from the
material being presented. For
example, if everything is in Figure 7.1 Example of a Good Display
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 27
Time. The project title should go at the top of forth. This kit should contain anything that
the center panel, and the remaining material you think you might need to make last-
needs to be placed neatly in some order. minute repairs to the display.
Figure 7.1 shows one way of placing the mate- 6. Before standing your backboard on the
rial. The heading “Next Time,” though not display table, cover the table with a colored
always required, may be included if desired. It cloth. Choose a color that matches the
would follow the conclusion and contain a color scheme of the backboard. This will
brief description of plans for future develop- help to separate your project from other
ment of the project. This information could be projects displayed on either side.
included in the conclusion rather than under a
You want a display that the judges will DO’S AND DON’TS
remember positively. So before you glue
everything down, lay the board on a ﬂat sur- Do use computer-generated graphs.
face and arrange the materials a few different Do display photos representing the
ways. This will help you decide on the most procedure and the results.
suitable and attractive presentation. Figure 7.1
shows what a good display might look like. Do use contrasting colors.
Do limit the number of colors used.
HELPFUL HINTS Do display models when applicable. If
possible, make the models match the
1. Place all typed material on a colored back- color scheme of the backboard.
ing, such as construction paper. Leave a
border of about 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch (0.63 to 1.25 Do attach charts neatly. If there are many,
cm) around the edges of each piece of place them on top of each other so that
typed material. Use a paper cutter so that the top chart can be lifted to reveal the
the edges will be straight. ones below.
2. Make the project title stand out by using Do balance the arrangement of materials
larger letters for it and smaller letters for on the backboard. This means to evenly
the headings. distribute the materials on the board so
that they cover about the same amount
3. To arrange the letters on the backboard,
of space on each panel.
ﬁrst lay the letters out on the board with-
out attaching them. Then, use a yardstick Do use rubber cement or double-sided
(meterstick) and pencil to draw a straight, tape to attach papers. White school glue
light guideline where the bottom of each causes the paper to wrinkle.
letter should line up. This will help you
keep the lettering straight. Before adher- Don’t leave large empty spaces on the
ing everything, ask the opinion of other backboard.
students, teachers, or family members. Don’t leave the table in front of the
4. If you need electricity for your project, be backboard empty. Display your models
sure the wiring meets all safety standards. (if any), report, copies of your abstract,
and your journal here.
5. Bring an emergency kit with extra letters,
glue, tape, construction paper the color of Don’t hang electrical equipment on the
the backboard, stapler, scissors, pencils, backboard so that the electric cord runs
pens, touch-up paint, markers, and so down the front of the backboard.
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 28
Don’t make the title or headings hard to SAFETY
read by using uneven lettering, words
with letters of different colors, or Anything that is or could be hazardous to
disorganized placement of materials. other students or the public is prohibited and
cannot be displayed. The following is a list of
Don’t hand-print the letters on the back- things that are generally unacceptable for
board. display. Your teacher has access to a complete
list of safety rules from your local science fair
Don’t attach folders that fall open on the
ofﬁcials. Your project topic should be
approved by your teacher before beginning.
Don’t make mistakes in spelling words or This prevents you from working on an unsafe
writing formulas. project and from wasting time on a project
that would be disqualiﬁed. Models or
Figure 7.2 shows how not to set up your photographs can be used instead of things
display. that are restricted from display.
Unacceptable for Display
1. Live animals
2. Microbial cultures or fungi, living or
3. Animal or human parts, except for teeth,
hair, nails, and dried animal bones
4. Liquids, including water
5. Chemicals and/or their empty contain-
ers, including caustics, acids, and house-
6. Open or concealed ﬂames
7. Batteries with open-top cells
8. Combustible materials
9. Aerosol cans of household solvents
Figure 7.2 Example of a Bad Display 10. Controlled substances, poisons, or drugs
11. Any equipment or device that would be
hazardous to the public
12. Sharp items, such as syringes, knives,
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 29
personal pride you have in yourself, and that
our teacher may require that you give
an oral presentation of your project for is the ﬁrst step in introducing your product,
your class. Make it short but complete. your science project.
Presenting in front of your classmates may be
the hardest part of the project. You want to do JUDGING INFORMATION
your best, so prepare and practice, practice,
Most fairs have similar point systems for
practice. If possible, tape your practice presen-
judging a science fair project, but you may be
tation on a tape recorder or have someone
better prepared by understanding that judges
videotape you. Review the tape and/or video
generally start by thinking that each student’s
and evaluate yourself. Review your notes and
project is average. Then, he or she adds or sub-
tracts points from that. A student should receive
Practicing an oral presentation will also be
more points for accomplishing the following:
helpful for the science fair itself. The judges
give points for how clearly you are able to dis- 1. Project Objectives
cuss the project and explain its purpose, pro- • Presenting original ideas
cedure, results, and conclusion. The display
should be organized so that it explains every- • Stating the problem clearly
thing, but your ability to discuss your project • Deﬁning the variables and using
and answer the questions of the judges con- controls
vinces them that you did the work and under-
stand what you have done. Practice a speech • Relating background reading to the
in front of friends, and invite them to ask problem
questions. If you do not know the answer to a 2. Project Skills
question, never guess or make up an answer
or just say “I don’t know.” Instead, say that • Being knowledgeable about equipment
you did not discover that answer during your used
research, and then offer other information • Performing the experiments with little
that you found of interest about the project. or no assistance except as required for
Be proud of the project, and approach the safety
judges with enthusiasm about your work.
You can decide on how best to dress for a • Demonstrating the skills required to do
class presentation, but for the local fair, it is all the work necessary to obtain the data
wise to make a special effort to look nice. You reported
are representing your work. In effect, you are 3. Data Collection
acting as a salesperson for your project, and
you want to present the very best image possi- • Using a journal to collect data and
ble. Your appearance shows how much research
Part I 10/18/99 1:26 PM Page 30
• Repeating the experiment to verify the DO’S AND DON’TS AT THE FAIR
Do bring activities, such as puzzles to work
• Spending an appropriate amount of time on or a book to read, to keep yourself
to complete the project occupied at your booth. There may be a
• Having measurable results lengthy wait before the ﬁrst judge arrives,
and even between judges.
4. Data Interpretation
Do become acquainted with your neighboring
• Using tables, graphs, and illustrations in presenters. Be friendly and courteous.
Do ask neighboring presenters about their
• Using research to interpret data col- projects, and tell them about yours if they
lected express interest. These conversations pass
• Collecting enough data to make a con- time and help relieve nervous tension that
clusion can build when you are waiting to be evalu-
ated. You may also discover techniques for
• Using only data collected to make a con-
research that you can use for next year’s
5. Project Presentation (Written Materials/
Interview/Display) Do have fun.
• Having a complete and comprehensive Don’t laugh or talk loud. This may affect the
report person nearby who is being judged.
• Answering questions accurately Don’t forget that you are an ambassador for
your school. This means that your attitude
• Using the display during oral and behavior inﬂuence how people at the
presentation fair think about you and the other students
• Justifying conclusions on the basis of at your school.
• Summarizing what was learned
• Presenting a display that shows creative
ability and originality
• Presenting an attractive and interesting