We will now move into the area of getting started with the experimental or investigative project. One of the most difficult steps involved in being in a science fair is coming up with the problem to solve or a topic. There are many ways to come up with a topic (VanCleave, 1997). The easiest way to find a project is to select a topic from a book on science fair projects or science experiments. The only problem with using this method is that most of these books are highly used by other students, and you tend to find replicas of these projects in school wide science fairs. But, one could use the projects presented in these books as the foundation for an experiment. By adding your own additional ideas to the project it could result in an award winning science fair project. Another way of trying to come up with a topic is to look closely at the world around you. For example, I noticed that the majority of bees that visited my garden went to the most colorful flowers. From that observation, I could design and experiment to see if bees are attracted to color of flower.
Two of the best ways is to look through science magazines or books and find topics or ideas that are of interest to the science fair participant. Using this method is one way of assuring that the project is original and give students the full experience of designing an experiment to find the answer to the problem that they are investigating. The second best way to come up with a topic is by attending lectures on topic of interest. The lecturer could make a profound statement which you may want to investigate on your own. For example, in my course with the Yale New Haven Teachers Institute we spent a lot of time discussing pesticides and their affects on the environment and people. This topic sparked my interest to design an experiment to see how pesticides affect our environment. Based on the research on pesticides and wanting to design an experiment to see how it affects our bodies, I decided to design an experiment on earthworms to observe the effects of pesticide on living things. This course also made me curious about other environmental concerns which led me to work in the area of environmental science with the additional experiments included in this unit.