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Choose a Purpose (The topic for your project)

The purpose of a science fair project is to teach students the process for utilizing the scientific method. The
first and one of the most important steps is choosing a topic. You will be spending many hours researching
and experimenting, so you should choose a topic that interests you. Try to develop a question that relates to
your hobbies and interests or an area of science that you would like to know more about. Also, because
scientists use the information they learn to improve the world, think of how your topic impacts individuals, the
local, or global community.

The purpose of your science fair project must meet the following criteria:
 Adequate Background Information (minimum of 6 resources on the topic)
 Stated as a question (e.g. What effect would ________ have on _________?)
 Testable by experimentation (3-5 trials, in a controlled environment, access to materials and
 Measurable Results (must be able to collect numerical data)
 Specific (clearly define what you are changing and measuring)
 Safe (does not include one of the fearsome seven)

Your investigation must be one that can be conducted following the scientific method. It may not be a
project that is a demonstration, collection, model or a report (i.e. building a volcano or a report about
dinosaurs) because these types of projects are classified as descriptive research and do not require use of the
scientific method.

Following the guidelines above, you will develop at least three research topics that you are interested in
pursuing and submit them to your teacher. When your teacher returns your approved topic, you will complete
the Idea Submission Form, restating the approved purpose and explaining the project. Your teacher and
your parent must sign the form before you can proceed to the next step.

Use the categories below and web-sites listed on the reference page to help you choose your purpose. The
categories below will be used to place your project in the school fair.

Intel ISEF Categories: FEARSOME SEVEN:

Animal Sciences (Biology) A student may not conduct a study involving the
Behavioral and Social Sciences “fearsome seven” unless he/she has the teacher’s prior
(Behavioral and Health Science) approval and appropriate, signed paperwork reflecting
Biochemistry that he/she is working directly with a doctoral level
qualified scientist.
 Cellular and Molecular Biology
Chemistry Human subjects
Computer Science Vertebrate Animals (dogs, cats, fish, rats…)
Earth & Planetary Science Pathogens (Bacteria, mold, mildew…)
Engineering: Mat. & Bio. Controlled Substances (Drugs, alcohol, cigarettes…)
Engineering: Elect. & Mec Recombinant DNA
 Energy and Transportation Human/Animal Tissues (except what can be purchased at
 Environmental Management a grocery store)
Environmental Sciences Hazardous Substances or Devices (carcinogens,
explosives, machinery…)
Mathematical Sciences
Medicine and Health Sciences Remember if you are working with one of the fearsome seven
Microbiology you must have the correct paperwork and teacher approval.
Physics and Astronomy Go to www.societyforscience.org, click on “Intel International
Plant Sciences Science and Engineering Fair”, and then choose “Documents”
*bold format indicates categories for LJPS Science Fair; from the left side of the screen for all required paperwork.
subject to change as deemed appropriate by projects.

Student Science Fair Guidebook Page 1 of 16



www.societyforscience.org – (Rules, Regulations, Forms and Ideas)
 http://www.nefrsef.org/ – State website for forms and information







Our Textbook Support Websites

www.fl6.msscience.com (6th grade)
www.fl7.msscience.com (7th grade)
www.fl8.msscience.com (8th grade)


www.easybib.com (remember you still need to have the information from the source)

direction of a website. YOU MAY NOT SITE GOOGLE, ASK or other SEARCH ENGINES AS A

**Most of all remember to choose something that is interesting to you. This project will be something
you have worked long and hard on. It will be something for you to be proud of. You will be the expert
on your topic!**

Student Science Fair Guidebook Page 2 of 16

Science Fair Project
Liza Jackson
Preparatory School Idea Submission Form

Due Date for this Form: _____________________

Science Fair Date: ____________2010

Name: ___________________________________________ Date: ____________________

Teacher’s Name: ________________________________ Grade: _____________________

Purpose(restate your approved question here): ___________________________________________


Brief Project Description: Staple original topic idea assignment to this page.
Below write one paragraph explaining the idea you want to pursue for your science fair
research. Write in pen. Use an extra sheet of paper if you need more space.










_________________________________ _______________________/________
Parent Name (print) Parent Signature / Date

*Teacher Signature (*Required and indicates approval for project)

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Logbook Requirements

Requirements for Logbook:

 START LOG BOOK ON DAY ONE; anything to do with your science fair project goes inside
these pages.
 It is a diary of your science fair project.
 Do not write your name on the front of your logbook. Write your name inside the back
 Use a composition notebook or a college lab book.
 Use Legible HANDWRITING in blue or black INK.
 Write the dates on which you recorded notes for each page.
 All observations and notes are written in this book.
 For research page notes; DO copy the entire web-site address. You will need this for your
bibliography. DO staple your research note cards into the pages of your log book.
 DO include information or articles that are not directly related to your ideas at this time; they
may become important later.
 DO remember to record page numbers if your source is a book.
 DO NOT turn in a print out from a web-site page as part of your research, it is solely for your
personal use.

Student Science Fair Guidebook Page 4 of 16

Research Notes/Bibliography Samples

Before starting the experiment, do research. You will need to have AT LEAST SIX (6) references,
only one of which may be an encyclopedia. The encyclopedia reference can be a book or an online
encyclopedia (from the internet). At least 5 (five) other references need to be cited. You may use
textbooks, books from the media center, magazine articles, and any other references. You may
include online research, however; be sure to (validate) use a high quality source. Although your
teacher will provide research time in class, outside research is required. Research notes will need
to be recorded in your logbook. You will need to keep a bibliography (a list of the books, articles, etc.
you used in your research). Caution when using a web-site, copy and paste the ENTIRE web address
into a word document to be sure that you copy it correctly into your notes in your logbook. Realize any
material printed out is for your personal use, and is not to be turned in.
Reference Source: SAMPLE- How your Bibliography should look:

 Book- one author  Smith, James. Science Projects. New York: Collier, 1992.

 Magazine Article  Smith, James. “Animal Husbandry.” Reptile and Amphibian Magazine.
March 1992:23-35.

 Magazine Article- 2  Smith, James and Henry Ford. “Conservation- Two Views.” Sierra Club
authors News. Jan. 1992: 1-5.

 Newspaper Article  Smith, James. “Nesting Terns.” Northwest Florida Daily News. 7 July 1992.

 Personal Interview  Conant, Roger. Personal Interview. 24 June, 1994.

 Encyclopedia Article  Barr, William. “Northwest Passage.” World Book Encyclopedia. 1998 ed.

Internet Bibliography  The Nobel Foundation. Sept. 1999. The Nobel Foundation. Nov 29, 1999
 Professional Site http://nobel.sdsc.edu.

 Hamilton, Virginia. Welcome to My World. Nov. 29, 1999

 Personal Site http://www.virginiahamilton.com.

 “Cat, Domestic.” Encarta Online. 1997-1999. Nov. 29,1999

 Article in an Encyclopedia http://encarta.msn.com/find/consice.asp?z=l&ti=008FF000.
 “A Consumer’s Guide to Bicycle Helmets.” Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.
 Article in a Professional May 1999. Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Nov. 22, 1999
Site http://wwwbhsi.org/Webdocs/guide.html.

 Frampton, Alyse. “Going Toe to Toe with Shoes.” Smithsonian Magazine.

 Article in a Magazine Nov. 1999. Nov. 22, 1999

Student Science Fair Guidebook Page 5 of 16

Refine Topic/Variables and Controls
In a science fair project, the cause is called the independent variable. It is the one thing you will be
changing in your project. The effect is called the dependent variable. It is the one thing of which you
will be measuring the result or observing. For each question there is only ONE independent variable
and ONE dependent variable. The dependent variable is the one being affected by the change you
make to the independent variable. In other words, it depends on the independent variable. Both
variables can be measured and recorded but the independent variable is measured or recorded at
the beginning of each change and the dependent variable is measured as a result of a change.

Use the space below to identify the independent and dependent variable for your science project.

1. Independent Variable (what you are going to be changing…i.e. type of battery,

different cleaning detergents, kind of fertilizer…):____________________________________


2. Dependent Variable (the part you are measuring or observing as a result of the experiment…i.e.
length of time battery will last, height of plant, amount of decay…):



3. Control Group (if necessary):____________________________________________________

Now, think of all the other parts of the experiment that could be affected. To get valid results from the
experiment you must identify and restrict all other variables that could affect the results. List all the
variables that need to remain constant and explain how you will address them. The things that are
constant in the experiment always stay the same. You can only change one thing and that is the
independent variable. For example, if your project measures “effects of music on plant growth”, then
you can only change the music. The type of plant, amount of water, sunlight, fertilizer, size of pot,
type of potting soil, age of plant, and temperature at which plant is exposed to, and how long the
plant is subjected to the music all need to remain the same.

4. Constants (list as many as possible (minimum of 5): __________________________________




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After scientists ask questions they then answer them, but only hesitantly, from their research
findings. That tentative or temporary “educated guess” is called a hypothesis. In order to qualify
as science, you must go one step further, and test the hypothesis. Those three steps; a
question, a hypothesis, and the test of the hypothesis, are the very basic steps of the
scientific method.

A hypothesis has an IF…/THEN… Statement imbedded in it.

Since the hypothesis is an educated guess based on research, show that you have done research
at the beginning of your hypothesis. You can do this by beginning the hypothesis with a statement
about the literature/research. Use the following examples or come up with your own idea:

From my research, if…then…

Based on my research, if…then it will result in…
After researching my question, if…then it will cause…

Example hypotheses:
 From my research, it is hypothesized IF stains are placed on cotton tee-shirts, THEN Tide™
will clean the stain by reducing the affected area by 25% or more..

 Based on my research, the hypothesis is IF different fertilizers are used, THEN plants will grow
at different rates.

 The hypothesis of this research is that IF different conductors are used, THEN the electricity
will flow at different rates.

A hypothesis is one sentence. Be sure to define terms in measurable quantities. Use the space
below to practice writing out the hypothesis for your project:







Student Science Fair Guidebook Page 7 of 16

As you begin to write up the procedures you will also need to list the materials which will be
required to complete the experiment. A complete list of all the materials required and the quantities
of these materials should be included with the project. Then write directions of exactly what to do
with the materials. The procedure is like a recipe. For other people to follow the directions
accurately you must be very, very specific. Read carefully below for the guidelines to help you with
your materials list and the procedure.

 List all Materials: (i.e. don’t just say 3 batteries, say 3 Eveready™ AAA batteries from the same box.)
 Write in the present or future tense. (i.e. *Place the plant in the sunlight from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in a south
facing window. OR *Wrap the 10 gauge copper wire around the 10 penny nail15 times being sure to pull it tight.)
 When writing DO NOT use1st person pronouns. (i.e. me, I, us, we, our, mine…etc)
 Professional writing is also free of contractions; (i.e. can’t should be can not, don’t should be do not)
 When writing the procedure, include the brand name and type of equipment used. (Example: If a
blender is used, write “Protor Silex Super Blender™”.)
 Include the scientific and common names for living things, such as plants, worms or insects.
Scientific names are written in italics. (Example: Red Maple is Acer rubrum)
 Use METRIC measurements.
 Include all safety and disposal procedures.
 Include a list of the variables; independent, dependent, and constants (at least 5).

Use the checklist below to help you remember all the parts for the materials and procedure.

 Control group (if any)

 Double-spaced, Times New Roman or Ariel, size 12 Font, Black Ink
 Present/Future Tense
 No Contractions (can’t, don’t) or 1st person pronouns (I, you, me, we)
 Common Name and Scientific Name (Italicized) for all living things are used.
 Variables are listed: independent, dependent, and constants (at least 5)
 Test equipment is specified
 All measurements are METRIC
 Another student could follow this packet and duplicate the experiment EXACTLY.

I, _______________________, found the procedures to be appropriate, well organized and

easy to understand.

Signature: Peer Review Student

Student Science Fair Guidebook Page 8 of 16

Results and Analysis (Tables and Graphs)
Next, and before beginning any experimenting, you will need to make a rough draft of or a template
for the tables and graphs. This may seem strange but you will need to know where you are going to
record the data and how it will look before you start experimenting. All of the data will need to be kept
in your logbook. Look at the following sample of a table.
Time a Battery Lasted Based on the Type of Battery
Type of Battery Time Battery Lasted (Hours:Minutes)
(Independent Variable) (Dependent Variable)
Best Battery 6:32
Eveready 5:37
Why Bother Battery 2:14
You might have one table or ten, but you must have one table for each experiment. They should all
have a graph to go with them. Graphs are “pictures” of your data and they are easier for people to
read. The graph and the table should have the same title. The X-axis (horizontal) tells the
independent variable (what you are changing in the experiment). The Y-axis (vertical) tells the
dependent variable (what you measured). Look at the following sample of the graph that matched the
table from above.

Time a Battery Lasted Based on

the Type of Battery

Time Battery Lasted


Best Eveready Why Bother
Battery Battery
Batteries Used

Below is a checklist to use to help you remember the parts for tables and graphs.
 Title is clear and uses dependent and independent variables
 Units of measurement are indicated and are METRIC
 X-axis is labeled with independent variable
 Y-axis is labeled with dependent variable
 If you need a key or have a key it is labeled correctly
You may draw your own graphs or create professional looking graphs with Microsoft
Excel, the textbook web-site or other appropriate software.

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Conduct the Experiment
You are now ready to actually begin the experiment. As you conduct the experiment, a written
description of what you do and observe during the experiment should be kept in the logbook. One
set of tests may be sufficient; however, to maintain scientific integrity several tests (called trials)
should be conducted. A minimum of 3-5 trials should be conducted. All tests (trials) should be
conducted under the same set of circumstances to ensure the accuracy of the experiment. If there
is an anomaly in one set of data it may be just a “fluke” or it may have a more significant meaning.
In either case you must record it and then discuss it. When collecting data from the experiment,
remember to use metric units.

Interpreting Results/Writing the Conclusion

The next step is to analyze the results from the experiment. Tell what happened. You are trying to
put into words what the data from the graph is showing you about the experiment. Tell what the
results were then tell why.

When writing the conclusion, begin by restating the hypothesis. Next, tell whether the results were
consistent with the hypothesis you wrote before you began. Remember it is not important if the
data supports your hypothesis or does not support your hypothesis. What is important is
that the steps of the scientific method were followed. Look back at the data table and graph.
The result for the batteries was as follows: Best Battery lasted for 6 hours 32 minutes, Eveready
lasted for 5 hours 37 minutes, and Why Bother Battery lasted for 2 hours 17 minutes. The analysis
of the information MAY be that Best Battery was a lot more expensive so it lasted longer, OR maybe
that battery was made with different chemicals. You will know which because of your research. Be
sure to discuss similarities and differences you noticed, and compare results from each of the trials.
For example: Cost per Minute of Use

Finally, it is also important to think of who would want to know the results of the experiment and why
the results are important for people to know. This is called the application. You want to apply what
you learned from the experiment to a real-life situation. How could your discovery be used? If you
can answer these questions, it will validate the experiment. In our experiment, environmentally
aware consumers concerned with disposing of old batteries would want to know which battery lasted
the longest. They would use the information to make wise choices when purchasing batteries.

Student Science Fair Guidebook Page 10 of 16

Abstract (use state form)
The abstract is a 250-word (or less) summary about your entire project from beginning to end. A
practice (rough draft) abstract should be written in the logbook, but the final copy of the abstract is a
form found from the Northeast Florida Regional Science and Engineering Fair web-site. Go to:


Be sure to review the instructions below before you begin typing. Use the sample abstract page that
follows to write out a rough draft. Type the words into the blank form and print it out from the website.
YOU CAN NOT save the form and should have someone else proofread the abstract before you print

The abstract should include the following:

 Purpose of the experiment (your question)

 Your Hypothesis
 A SUMMARY of your project.
 Data
 Conclusion
 A short application
 DO NOT include acknowledgements or the bibliography
 DO NOT permanently attached the abstract to the exhibit board

Student Science Fair Guidebook Page 11 of 16


Pick one only- -
Mark an “X” in
Box at right

Behavioral and
Social Science
Earth and
Medicine and
Physics and

1. As a part of this research project, the student directly handled, manipulated, or interacted with (check ALL
that apply): human subjects Potentially hazardous biological agents
vertebrate animals microorganisms rDNA tissue

2. Student independently performed all procedures as outline in this abstract. Yes No

3. Student worked or used equipment in a site other than school, field, or home. Yes No
4. This project is a continuation of previous research? Yes No
5. My display board includes non-published photographs/visual depictions of
humans (other than myself ): Yes No

I/We hereby certify that the above statements are correct and the FOR INTEL ISEF
information provided in the Abstract is the result of one year’s research. OFFICIAL USE
I/We also attest that the above properly reflects my/our own work. ONLY

___________________________________ __________________
Finalist or Team Leader Signature Date
This embossed seal attests that this project is in compliance with all federal and state laws and regulations and that all appropriate reviews
and approvals have been obtained including the final clearance by the SSEF/FFFS Scientific Review Committee.
Student Science Fair Guidebook Page 12 of 16
Exhibit Board
Now that all the hard work is behind you, it is time to put it all together into an exhibit board and a
Research Report. The exhibit board tells the whole story of your science project experience. It will
be the only thing that represents you and your hard work during the judging at the fair. The display
board should have the following items on it:

Title, Purpose, Hypothesis, Variables, Abstract, Materials/Procedure,

Data and Analysis, Photographs, Conclusion, Application/Evaluation

Although the application is optional on the backboard, it would be an opportunity to show the judges
why what you learned was important. Do not put the research, bibliography or acknowledgements on
the backboard (they will go in the Research Report).

The Backboard
The backboard is a tri-fold board. You may use a header, but it is not required. The board may be
any color or covered with items including burlap, paint, construction paper, fabric or other creative
material. See the drawing below for how to layout the arrangement of the materials. Presentation is
always important. Things to keep in mind: color, font-proportions, eye-catching, neatness, high
quality, and professional looking.

Title The name of your project. The title should be interesting in order to get the attention of your

Purpose The question you are answering.

Abstract The abstract should be placed on the lower left side of the board and should NOT be
permanently mounted. Instead, mount a clear plastic page protector onto the exhibit board and then
place a copy of the abstract in the page protector.

Data The data for your board needs to be in chronological order, in other words, the order that you
did the things. Charts and graphs are used to show the data obtained during the experiment.
Photographs or drawings are taken during the experiment help give a clearer understanding of the

Photographs on the exhibit board should contain only pictures of you or direct family members. A
small label identifying who took the picture must be on the board under the picture. You may
only do this once if the same person took all pictures. (i.e. “all pictures taken by Bob and Sally Smith”
If you go to the Regional Science Fair you will need to obtain a copy of a signed permission form for
anybody other than yourself.

*I need to know in advance if you require a power source for your project. You need to supply your
own extension cord and surge protector.

Student Science Fair Guidebook Page 13 of 16

Sample Exhibit Board- Layout


(Question/problem) PROCEDURE


VARIABLES optional: key-

Data and information)
(in plastic sleeve). EVALUATION/


placed in front of exhibit board.

Items in front of the Exhibit Board

You must have the Logbook and the Research Report in front of the exhibit board. This is not a
complete list of some of the items NOT allowed, for a complete list of items allowed and not allowed
in front of your board go to www.societyforscience.org.



Student Science Fair Guidebook Page 14 of 16

Science Fair Notebook Requirements

 Your Research Report is a copy of the items you have on your backboard with a few extra items like the typed
research pages.
 Use a 3-ring binder or duo-tang folder
 Use Times New Roman or Arial Size 12 Font, Double space, and in black ink except title page
 Margins should be 1.5” on the left and 1” on the right, top, and bottom.
 Each section goes on its own page (NOTE: Roman Numerals are assigned for some sections.)
 Use the breakdown below for more information on each specific section.
 Avoid flash that is misleading.

Research Report - Breakdown

Each of these sections is a separate page of the Research Report. (read carefully, some contain Roman
Numerals) If 2 copies are required, one is for your exhibit board and one is for the Research

Research Report must contain the following:

1. Title Page; same as title on backboard, may be larger than size 12 font, should be centered on page. Your
name, teacher and class period will be written in pencil on the back of the last page in this book.

2. Introduction; notebook only, (this is optional). It is your way of introducing your ideas and telling what made
you want to do this project (besides, “my teacher made me”).
3. Purpose; 2 copies, One sentence, double-spaced. It is the question you are answering.

4. Research; notebook only, The Final Draft of your Research Paper

5. Hypothesis; Roman Numeral I., 2 copies, One sentence, double-spaced, an If…Then…sentence

6. Variables; list the independent variable, dependent variable, and constants

7. Materials/Procedures; Roman Numeral II., 2 copies, the “recipe” for your project
8. Results/Analysis(Tables/Graphs); Roman Numeral III., 2 copies, each table and graph gets its own page,
Tables and graphs should be numbered (i.e. Table 1, Table 2,…Graph A, Graph B…etc.) After the graphs,
write an analysis. This means tell what the graphs show and explain why you think things happened the way
they did.
9. Conclusion; Roman Numeral IV., 2 copies, The first sentence of the conclusion is to restate your hypothesis.
Write all about what you found out during the experiment. Remember that your hypothesis is either supported
or not supported by the data but it does not count against you if your data was not supported. It is the
scientific process that the judges are interested in.
10. Application; Roman Numeral V., 1 or 2 copies (optional on board), Tell where, how, and who can use the
information you have worked so hard to uncover. This is an important piece of your project; a time to tell why
your data is important to know.
11. Bibliography; notebook only, an alphabetized list of the sources you used, at least 6, only one encyclopedia,
Refer back to the research portion to include the correct format.

12. Acknowledgements; notebook only, Please use your good manners and remember to thank anyone who
has helped you including but not limited to: parents, businesses, teachers, siblings and friends. Your name
and class period will go on the back of this page in pencil.
Student Science Fair Guidebook Page 15 of 16
Space for your notes, thoughts, and reflections……

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