Preparing Your Science Fair Project
1) Pick Your Topic.
an idea of what you want to study. Ideas might come from hobbies or
problems you see that need solutions. Due to limited time and
resources, you may want to study only one or two specific events.
2) Research Your Topic.
to the library and read everything you can on your topic. Observe
related events. Gather existing information on your topic. Look for
unexplained or unexpected results. Also, talk to professionals in the
field, write to companies for specific information, and obtain or construct needed equipment.
everything you have learned about your topic. At this point you should
narrow your hypothesis by focusing on a particular idea. Your library
research should help you.
4) Make a Timetable.
a topic that not only interests you, but also can be done in the amount
of time you have. Use a calendar to identify important dates. Leave
time to fill out the forms and to review the Research Plan with your
Sponsor. Certain projects require more time because they need prior
Scientific Review Committee (SRC) or Institutional Review Board (IRB)
approval. Allow plenty of time to experiment and collect data--even
simple experiments do not always go as you might expect the first time,
or even the second time. Also, leave time to write a paper and put
together an exhibit.
5) Plan Your Experiments.
you have a feasible project idea, write a research plan. This plan
should explain how you will do your experiments and exactly what it will
involve. All students participating in the ISEF and affiliated fairs
are required to complete the (Form 1) Checklist for Adult Sponsor, (Form 1A) Student Checklist/Research Plan and (Form 1B) Approval Form.
6) Consult Your Adult Sponsor.
You are required
to discuss your research plan with an Adult Sponsor and obtain a
signature of approval. In reviewing your Research Plan, your Adult Sponsor
should determine if additional forms and/or IRB/SRC prior approval is
7) Conduct Your Experiment.
thought to experimental design. During experimentation, keep detailed
notes of each and every experiment, measurement and observation. Do not rely on your memory.
Remember to change only one variable at a time when experimenting, and
make sure to include control experiments in which none of the variables
are changed. Make sure you include sufficient numbers of test subjects
in both control and experimental groups. A group must have five or more subjects to be statistically valid.
8) Examine Your Results.
you complete your experiments, examine and organize your findings. Did
your experiments give you the expected results. Why or why not? Was your
experiment performed with the exact same steps each time? Are there
other explanations that you had not considered or observed? Were there
errors in your observations? Remember that understanding errors and
reporting that a suspected variable did not change the results can be
valuable information. If possible, statistically analyze your data.
9) Draw Conclusions.
variables are important? Did you collect enough data? Do you need to
conduct more experimentation? Keep an open mind--never alter results to
fit a theory. If your results do not support your original hypothesis,
you still have accomplished successful scientific research. An
experiment is done to prove or disprove a hypothesis.