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Keys to a Successful Project

Success in a science fair can be judged by any number of standards, but it should not be measured by ribbons, trophies, or other awards. If a student has selected a topic, investigated it according to a planned design, and reported the results of that investigation, then that student has succeeded. Winning "first place" or being "grand champion" is certainly praiseworthy, but the ultimate goal of taking part in the fair should be to discover and learn new things about the world (or universe) in which we live. The following list offers factors which can be shared with students (and their parents) in designing and constructing worthwhile science fair projects.

General Considerations

  • Does the project represent the student's own work?
    Although students may receive assistance in investigating their topic and designing their respective projects, the final effort must be the student's-not that of a scientist, teacher, parent, or other adult.

  • Is the project the result of careful planning?
    Work with other individuals in the school to provide a team approach to the science fair. For example, the librarian can prepare a special display of books about science experiments, famous scientists, scientific information, or literature with science themes. Invite colleagues to visit your classroom to share science-related hobbies or areas of interest.

  • Does the project demonstrate the student's creativity and resourcefulness?
    Students should be encouraged to contribute their own creativity and ingenuity to the investigation and design of a particular project.

  • Does the project indicate a thorough understanding of the chosen topic?
    Students need to investigate their chosen area as completely as possible.The project must reflect the results of research and investigation done over an extended period.

Specific Considerations

  • Does the project include a notebook, written record, or final report?
    The display should include a written summary of the investigation. Such a record provides observers with information on the subject, it documents the student's work, and offers insights into a student's overall comprehension of the topic.

  • Does the project include a number of visual aids?
    Photographs, charts, diagrams, graphs, tables, drawings, or even paintings liven up any display and make it more interesting.

  • Is the project sturdy and well constructed?
    Using the proper materials and taking care in assembling a project are important, particularly if the display will be standing for several days.

  • Does the project meet all safety requirements?
    When electrical items, unusual specimens, or chemicals are used in a display, care must be taken to ensure the safety of observers. The display of live organisms is discouraged.

  • Is the display three-dimensional?
    In addition to the display backdrop and accompanying written report, the inclusion of samples, apparatuses, collections, or other items is vital to the project. These should be arranged attractively on the display table.

  • Is the information accurate?
    Any data gathered from outside resources, such as printed materials or interviews with experts, and data obtained from experiments must be presented accurately.

  • Does the display present a complete story?
    The student should carefully identify the topic chosen for investigation, what was done during the investigation, the results, and a conclusion.

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