Science Fair Savvy: It’s that time! :/

Okay, I know, school hasn’t started yet!!  But it will be here soon so time for some science fair tips!

First, I have a confession: When I was in 10th grade, I was put into an honors biology class and I choose to switch down to the regular “academic” biology class just to avoid doing a science fair project.  My one from the previous year didn’t go so well to say the least and I just didn’t want to mess with that.  Now here I am basically doing experiments every day at work so I guess I got over it and my love of the lab won out!  I am sure I am not the only one to feel the same way as i did back then.  These things can be tough on everyone, I hear the parental units come to fear this time as well.  I’m sure getting the kids to just do homework is one thing but facing a daunting months long process culminating in a big grade at the end, possible science fair spot, and throw in the whole “gotta get into college!” thing and it just seems that science fair = stress for everyone. 

I guess a lot has to do with the way that the whole thing starts off.  Usually, the big science fair is always for the same grade level so you know that if you hit 9th grade or whatever it is your school does, you know it’s a’coming.  So you get to school the first day and the teacher says pick a topic, here is a big packet of rules and have your topic picked and forms filled out by Friday.  In my opinion, picking the topic is the hardest part!!!  So thinking about it now in the last few weeks of summer is a good idea. 

Here are some ideas for getting started:

  • What do you like?  Once you pick something, google/wiki it to learn more and narrow down your topic.
  • Is this project idea feasible?  What does it require in terms of time, oversight, commitment, materials….most importantly BE REALISTIC!  If you know your not up for keeping plants alive for three months, that’s fine, just move on to another idea!
  • Are there any resources you reach out to for help?  These can be local colleges, nature centers, water utilities, health departments–look locally and you’ll probably find people who are willing to help!
  • Don’t be a hero!  (You can save that for college.)  You don’t need to have the most complicated experiment to succeed.  A project that is clearly defined and simple to understand will more impressive. 
  • The projects that don’t work out are the ones that don’t seem don’t interest you and don’t have focus.  If the project isn’t focused, you won’t be focused and you’ll be struggling to complete it.
  • Don’t worry about the project working perfectly.  Learning to follow the scientific method is the most important lesson of a science fair project.  (You can say this to your teacher, they’ll probably be impressed.)

So good luck with the topic search!  Next time on Science Fair Savvy:  The Joys of a Good Hypothesis.  Stay Tuned!

Coming up Friday-Louis Pasteur and the Scientific Advancements of 19th Century France!  I bet y’all can’t wait for that, huh?!


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