All the steps to Science Fair can sometimes be frustrating but it offers amazing opportunities. I have won many awards, technology items, trips, and even money through competing. I've also met a lot of great people and have made a lot of friends. You can win as much as $25,000 in Middle School and $100,000 in High School along with college scholarships. Doing well in science fair can also really help with college acceptance.
Steps to a great science fair project
First you need to pick a subject that you really like. To have a great project you'll probably spend 75-100 hours total on it. You can make a science experiment out of almost anything. The first science fair project I ever did started with a kit that I altered. After that every project has been based on just an idea I wondered about. I have seen projects on almost every subject from science to math, history, English, art, music, dance, sports, and even cell phones. I personally don't like to do projects with human subjects because it is very difficult to get enough people to participate and there is a lot of state paperwork to be done. The guideline I have been taught to go by is 30 test samples for middle school and 50 test samples for high school.
Paperwork! Part of the science fair process are the papers. After your research, you will need to write your Investigation Plan which should detail each step of your experiment, problem, hypothesis, variables, and safety concerns. Your Plan will need to be submitted to your state fair for approval. After the Plan, an APA Research Paper about your scientific principle is completed. This Paper can be submitted to the state for writing awards.
After you receive state approval of your project, you can proceed with your experiment. You will need to test your variables, record your results and determine if your hypothesis was correct or not. Everything you do should be recorded in you Log Book. Now the last major paper is written: the Follow-Up Paper. The Follow-Up Paper documents all of your procedure, results, charts, graphs, and conclusions.
When everything is completed you will need to write an Abstract explaining your project and create a Display Board to highlight your project. The design of the Display Board is very important because it is the first thing a Judge will see about your project. It's design really reflects on how serious you are as a competitor. You also need to create a Notebook from your Investigation Plan, Research Paper, and Follow-Up Paper.
Second apply the Scientific Method to it. Ask a question. Make a hypothesis to answer the question. Next do some research on your question. After your research you should be able to identify some variables for your project. Sometimes variables can be confusing. The Independent Variable is what you change and causes something to happen. The Dependent Variable is what you measure because of the change of the Independent Variable. There are also Constant Variables which are things that never change and Control Variables which are variables that you test your Dependent Variable against. Last you have Confounding Variables which are variables that you can't control but may affect your project.
What is the Scientific Method?