There are four main parts to a Science Fair Project: the laboratory notebook, a research paper, a project display board and an oral presentation. Each of these criterias are scored by the science fair judges in accordance to the rules sat aside by the science fair committee years ago. The laboratory notebook and research paper is worth a total of fifteen points. The project display board is worth a total of fifty-five points. When the judges review the display board they assign up to thirty point on the scientific thought placed into the board. They can give the display board up to 15 additional points based on the thoroughness of the data placed on the board. A display board can earn up to 10 additional points for the students skill in measurement and data placed on a well organized graph. All these add up to a total of fifty-five points as stated earlier. The students oral presentation is worth up to thirty points.
The Laboratory Notebook serves as scientific diary where the students have to document everything that they do during the scientific process. It is suggested that the students use a composition where all the pages are bound together. Each entry in the notebook has to be dated. The notebook should include all the information that the students plan to place on their display board including the procedures, hypothesis, any observations and even a list of the materials that the students plan use to perform the experiment. This is a journal and the need to be neat is not important as long as the notes are legible to the student or other members of the group. However, the judges at the science fair will read lab notebook. The students can also use the book to design charts, tables or graphs. Documentation can be done in script or through scientific drawings.
The Research Paper is the written record of the entire project from start to finish. The report should be clear and precise. When the judges read the report, it should be clear enough for them to know exactly what you did, the results, and whether or not the experimental evidence supported the hypothesis. There are eight distinct parts to the research paper: (1) Title page, (2) table of contents, (3) abstract, (4) introduction, (5) experiment and data, (6) conclusion, (7) bibliography page and (8) acknowledgements. The only information that should be placed on the title page is the title of the experiment and the student names that worked on the report. The second page of the report is the table of contents. It should contain a list of everything following the table of contents.
The abstract should be no longer than one page. It is a brief overview of the project and it should include the project title, a statement of the purpose, a hypothesis, a brief description of the procedure, and the results. The introduction should contain the purpose of the experiment, and background information stating why you chose to do this particular experiment. It also should contain a brief statement of your hypothesis based on the information gained from on your the research found on the topic. It is also a good idea to state why you chose the particular project. In the experiment and data portion of the paper the students must include the problem being investigated in the experiment, followed by a final list of materials, then the procedures used to complete the experiment. All measurements and observations made during the experiment should be included in this section. It is strongly recommended that the data be placed on a chart, table or graph. The table or graph should be properly labeled.
The conclusion summarizes what was discovered during the experiment based on the data presented in the experiment and data section. The hypothesis should be restated and the students should state rather or not the hypothesis was correct. All sources should be listed in bibliography including all written materials and people interviewed. If people were interviewed, their names should be listed in alphabetical order below the bibliography. The person’s name, title, business phone number should follow the entry. If the students received help from an additional people to complete the project, they should be named on the acknowledgements page. This page is not a list of names, but a short paragraph stating the people names and how they assisted you with your project.
Project Display Board
The third part of the science fair project is the project display board. The project display board is the final step of the project. It represents all of the research and investigating that has been done throughout the project. It will also serve as your guide during the oral presentation. Even though these boards come in an array of sizes, the Olin-Yale-Bayer-New Haven School Science Fair requires that the students exhibits should be 48 inches (122 cm) wide, 30 inches (76 cm) deep, and 108 inches (274 cm) high. A three-sided backboard, which can be purchased at any office supply store, is the most popular and best way to display your project. However, some parents make these boards with out of wooden panels and hinges.
The following heading and information should be included on the science fair project board. Statement of the Problem: the students should what they are trying to find out in the experiment. Hypothesis: the students will make an educated guess about the outcome of the experiment. Materials: all the materials used to carry out the experiment should be listed in this section. Procedures: every step used to carry out the experiment should be listed in numerical order. Observations: all the data that was collected from the experiment should be placed in this section. The students can place this information on tables, charts or graphs. They can even use pictures for spectators to view things that may have occurred during the experiment. Results: summarize the data on the tables, graphs or charts. If pictures are used, the student should explain what is occurring in each of the pictures. Conclusion: the student should restate their original hypothesis and explain rather it was correct or not. They then compare their hypothesis to the final results of the experiment. Limitations: if there were anything that you could have done to improve the experiment, or make it more accurate, it should be stated in this section. Applications: briefly state how the experiment could be useful to other people.
During the oral presentation, three judges will separately ask students questions concerning their project. The student must be able to explain the science behind the projects. They will also look for evidence that the project is original, and carried out in an original and inventive way. Once the students have demonstrated their knowledge about the project, the judges will ask them a final “what if” question to see if the students can offer a logical solution to the question in relationship to their project.