Guidelines for Assignments Leading up to a Science Fair Project
Also see grading rubric and timeline for specific grading and due date information.
1.0 Choosing a Science Fair Project
1.1 Read over Parent Science Fair Packet and sign and return the tear off form on the last page.
1.2 Carefully review Ideas for Science Fair Projects and look for other project ideas in books or online.
1.3 Make sure the project you choose has only one independent variable (changed on purpose) and that the dependent variable is measurable. (you will eventually need to graph the quantitative results)
1.4 You will need to create a graph of the average results from five trials later in the project. All other variables must be controlled, or remain exactly the same.
Example: For our project at school we change the surface of the ramp (independent variable) smooth or rough and our dependent variable is distance the car travels. We conduct five trials with a smooth ramp and five trials on a rough ramp then record our results in a data table – total and average them.
1.5 Look for research about the project topic that can be easily understood and summarized by a 6th grader. See what can be found prior to committing to a project.
2.1 Decide on a question that will lead the investigation in your science fair project. The question must be one that can be safely and easily tested by you.
2.2 Choose one of these formats for writing your question:
2.3 How does (independent variable) affect (dependent variable)? OR What are the effects of (independent variable) on (dependent variable)?
2.4 Investigative question may be changed with Mrs. Lund’s permission if you are unable to find sufficient background research to complete the project
3.0 Write an Introduction: Example
3.1 Write a paragraph explaining how you got interested in your project or why you chose it.
4.1 Look up information (facts) on topics related to your science fair project. This information needs to help you understand what will happen so that you can make an informed hypothesis before you do your experiment.
4.2 Use at least two sources of information with information that will lead to an informed and specific hypothesis.
4.3 At least one source must have an author (website or book) that can be verified.
4.4 Keep track of the sources you use in an alphabetized bibliography using correct bibliography format. (which has been provided)
4.5 Take handwritten notes and/or make an outline of the information that you learn from your research.
4.6 Write or type a summary in your own words of the facts you learned from your background research.
4.7 Your summary must be at least one page in length. If typed it should be double spaced, in a traditional (easily readable) font, no larger than 14.
Please Note: Background Research does not include details of your project, commentary, opinions or predictions. It needs to read like a science textbook addressing the general scientific theories behind your project. It must contain enough information that you will be able to make a specific informed hypothesis (prediction) based on what you learned from this background research.
5.1 Review your investigative question and your background research. Write a hypothesis that reasonably and specifically predicts how the independent variable will affect the dependent variable.
5.2 The hypothesis needs to be based on information included in your background research (the science) and contain the word “because” followed by what you learned to support the your prediction while doing your background research.
6.1 Write or type a bulleted list of all the materials that are needed to conduct your experiment. Include specific metric amounts and measurements.
6.2 Write or type a numbered list of the step-by-step procedures that you will follow in conducting your experiment. Be sure to begin each step on a new line. Using only your materials and procedures, someone else should be able to conduct exactly the same experiment.
6.3 Have at least two people read your procedures to make sure they are clear and someone else could do your project correctly by following your directions.
6.4 Use the format “repeat steps ____ to _____” where possible. Be clear and concise.
7.0 Conduct your Experiment:
7.1 Purchase materials and conduct your experiment. Make sure that you have five trials for each variable you are testing.
7.2 Five trials means that you do exactly the same thing five times then record and average the results for later comparison.
7.3 Make sure the only thing changed is the independent variable; all other variables must be controlled or kept the same.
8.0 Data Table: Example
8.1 Use graph paper, or create a table on the computer, to record and report your results.
8.2 Data table must include evidence of five trials with rows for total and average results under each column.
8.3 Each type of independent variable tested will need its own column in the data table.
8.4 Calculations of totals and averages must be correct.
8.5 Data table must include a descriptive title explaining what the data table is showing.
8.6 Data table must include descriptive labels and units of measurement.
8.7 Qualitative (five sense observations) are reported, usually in a paragraph describing what was observed.
9.0 Graph: Kids Graphing Website
9.1 Use correct type of graph for your project, usually a bar graph to compare average results, or possibly line graph if you chose a project that compares results over time. Do not include totals or data from each trial in your graph, only the average.
9.2 Make sure the graph is colorful, easy to read and variables and units of measurement are clearly labeled.
9.3 Give your graph a meaningful title that describes the data shown.
10.0 Conclusion: Example
10.1 Original hypothesis is restated. Results are explained and either the hypothesis is supported or not supported based on experiment findings.
10.2 All data and observations are summarized and the average quantitative data is included in paragraph form.
10.3 Supporting background research information is included.
10.4 Any trials that are inconsistent with the hypothesis are explained to the best of your ability.
11.0 Future Research:
11.1 A paragraph explaining what could be done differently in your project to improve it.
11.2 May also include what you would do in the future to make your project more interesting or to extend what this project did not cover.
12.1 Explains how findings could apply to our lives, or how the findings could be used by someone in the real world.
13.1 Everyone who helped you in any way is thanked specifically for what they did.
14.1 Lists at least two sources, at least one must have a verifiable author (usually at the top or bottom of a website when available)
14.2 In correct format (MLA) Format has been provided on back of assignment sheet for background research.
15.1 Handwritten raw data and qualitative observations are included
15.2 Handwritten notes or outline for background research included
15.3 Any signed forms for human or animal projects are included.
16.0 Final Notebook Organization: Assignment Sheet
16.1 Purchase a folder cover with three prongs for your final notebook. It may have a clear cover so your cover page shows through.
16.2 Create a cover page with an interesting title, your name, grade, classroom teacher’s name, science teacher’s name, and school. You may use Word Art for the title only.
16.3 Create a Table of Contents including all sections with correct page numbers referenced.
16.4 Number each page for your final notebook to match your Table of Contents.
16.5 Check for correct spelling, grammar, punctuation.
16.6 All work must be neat and legible. (preferably typed)
17.0 Create a Backboard Display: Example
17.1 Purchase or make a freestanding backboard. These are available at school for $5.00 cash.
17.2 Put the title of your project in clear bold letters in the center of the middle section. Add your investigative question and hypothesis to the center section of the display.
17.3 Print copies of all major sections of your project and mount them on the backboard. (Investigative Question, Introduction, Background Research, Hypothesis, Materials and Procedures, Data Table, Graph, Conclusion) Only include Future Research and Applications if you have extra room.
17.4 Back each section with colored paper to make them stand out from the white backboard. If background research is more than one page, place the additional pages behind the first.
17.5 Add color to you backboard with colored paper or paint.