Science Fair General Project Information

Generally science projects can be classified as descriptive or experimental. The descriptive project is one in which students investigate by reading about a topic, visit a place to learn more about the subject, and possibly conduct an interview with an expert. These findings are then shared through a written report and a visual representation. Sometimes these projects are called "display" projects. While this type of project results in student learning, it does not require extensive use of the scientific process, logical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Typical topics might include:

  • How Crystals Grow
  • Why Airplanes Fly
  • Types of Fossils
  • How Coal Is Formed

The student will usually share what has been learned through one of the following ways:

  • Diagrams or photographs
  • Models
  • Collections

The experimental project encourages higher levels of thinking and engages the student in all the steps of problem-solving behavior and reinforces concepts from all curriculum areas.

The processes utilized are:

  1. Observing and inferring
  2. Predicting
  3. Measuring
  4. Experimenting and manipulating variables
  5. Collecting and interpreting data
  6. Drawing conclusions

Typical project topics might include:

  1. How Does Acid Rain Affect the Growth of Lima Beans?
  2. What Effect Does the Length of Days Have on the Mood of Humans?
  3. What Type Wood Produces the Greatest Amount of Heat?
  4. What is the Relationship of Fast Foods to Being Overweight?
  5. What Effect Do Various Insecticides Have on Houseflies?

The steps that students must follow are orderly and sequential and enhance their ability to think logically about any situation. The steps in doing an experimental project are similar to these below:

  1. Select a topic of interest from which something can be learned.
  2. Narrow the topic to one special aspect to be investigated.
  3. Read books and periodicals to develop background information about topic.
  4. Formulate a question which can be answered through experimentation; may be a hypothesis which can be proved or disproved.
  5. Devise a plan for doing the project and conducting experiments.
  6. Make a record of observations from many samples using controls.
  7. Bring meaning to the data through interpretation and analysis
  8. Using sufficient samples and data, draw a conclusion or give implications of projects.
  9. Apply information to new situation to determine validity of research.
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