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Steps for Science Fair from Idea to Completion

Science fair poster completed
Science fair poster completed

Do you want to work on a science project but have no idea where to start? This article will give you a basic timeline, so you can take your idea to completion.

1. Start by brainstorming projects. Ideas for science projects can come in many forms. Think about what topics interest you. Biology? Astronomy? Physics? It can help to look over the various categories at your local science fair or visit the International Science and Engineering Fair’s online exhibit hall. Another way to brainstorm projects is to observe problems in your local community. How do we get rid of plastics in the gutters? Is air quality worsening with the increase in traffic? How can we teach the elderly to be tech savvy? Finally, you can always consult other people who can suggest projects. Ask teachers, science fair alumni, or scientists in your community. Who knows? You might even find a mentor in the process.

2. Once you have your project, it’s time for some background research. Make a list of specific questions on your topic of choice. Know what you don’t know, then do research to fill those knowledge gaps. Google, scientific journals, books, and experts are great resources. Background research will help you become a mini-expert on your topic and design a solid experiment.

3. Now it’s time to write a project plan. Many science fairs (including the International Science and Engineering Fair) will require participants to write a research plan and complete the necessary paperwork before beginning experimentation. Your research plan should include a specific project question and a hypothesis that is an educated attempt to answer that question prior to experimentation. Also outline the steps of your experiment in the research plan.

4. Conduct the experiment! Be organized and keep good track of your data and observations.

5. Analyze your data and reflect on your observations. Draw conclusions. Was your hypothesis correct or incorrect? What is the answer to your project question based on the data you collected?

6. Present your research! This is an exciting stage of a science project, because it is where you get to tell others what you discovered. Presentation materials include an abstract which summarizes what you did and what you found; a research paper that gives the full report of your experiments and findings; and a poster board.

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