May 27

Thanks to Michael’s craft stores for providing these tips for students facing a science fair project.  Kids, I’m here to tell you that the internet has made it so easy for you to get information, see examples, conduct research and organize that really all you have to commit to is the time and effort.  You’ll feel so proud of your work at the end!  Get in there and DO SCIENCE!!


Scientists ask questions. The scientific method is how they get answers. It is a step-by-step process. Other scientists can go through the same steps and get the same answer. This means you can be more sure your answer is right.

Following the scientific method is important. Your teacher may give different names to some of the things you do. Or she may ask you to explain the information in a different order. But everyone who does a science fair project follows the same basic steps:

  1. Choose a topic – This is your question or problem. What do you want to find the answer to?
  2. Find out more – Get information that will help you begin to answer your question.
  3. Form a hypothesis – Based on your research, you think you know what the answer will be. This is better than a guess. But you don’t know for sure.
  4. Test your hypothesis – Usually this means perform your experiment more than once.
  5. Results – What did you find out? Be sure to record this in your scientific journal.
  6. Conclusion – What did you learn?

Once you have completed your research, you create an exhibit (display) that shows in words and pictures (charts and graphs) what you did. Then, you’ll be ready to go to the science fair and tell everyone about your project.

Choose a Topic

This is your question. It is usually something you wonder about. Do you really have more germs on your hands before you wash them? Are cats smarter than dogs? Do most toys live up to the advertising on TV? Are vegetables really better for you than candy? Once you have chosen a topic, you will want to find out more about it.

Find Out More

This is called doing research. You can look up your topic in the library and on the Internet. Ask questions of people who might know more. Your doctor would know about germs. Your dog’s vet would know about dogs.

Doing research tells you if this topic is really interesting to you. It helps you narrow down your question. You want a question that you can find the answer to. In fact, your research helps you think what the answer might be. Then you can form a hypothesis.

Form a Hypothesis

Now that you have learned more about your topic, what do you THINK the answer might be? This is your hypothesis. It’s an informed guess. A hypothesis is not a question. It is a statement of what you think is true, based on your research. “Washing hands in warm water kills more germs than washing hands in cold water.” “Cats sleep more than dogs.” “You can’t tell the taste of a soft drink with a blindfold.” Your hypothesis might be true or it might not be true. So you need to test your hypothesis. Perform your experiment at least twice to make sure the results are consistent.

Test Your Hypothesis

For most projects, you will do an experiment to test your hypothesis.

Remember, you want other scientists to be able to do your experiment and get the same results. So write down everything. This is called documentation. You write everything in a special notebook. This is called your log or journal

Write down:

  • Your purpose. (why are you doing this experiment?)
  • Your procedure. Be sure to write down every step. You are writing a “recipe” for your experiment.
  • Your materials. If you have to buy things, write down where you got them and what they cost. Often you can use materials you have at home, but you still need to list them.
  • Variables. These are things that change.
  • Controls. These are things that stay the same.
  • Data. What happened.

Design your experiment before you perform it. Think about the factors that could change the results of your experiment … light, heat, cold and humidity, for example. These are called variables. You want to control as many variables as you can. It’s a good idea to ask your teacher, your parents or an older brother or sister to look over your experiment. They might see other variables that you can control better. Some variables can make your results different. This is why it is important to perform your experiment a few times to be scientific.

When you do your experiment, you might want to take pictures. If you are testing products, side-by-side pictures or before-and-after pictures are good.  Once you have completed your experiment, you will have your Results.


Results are what you find out. They are usually in the form of data. Data is another word for information. In research, data usually means numbers. Numbers can be turned into graphs and charts to make your results easier to understand. Good graphs make an ordinary person say, “I see what happened.”

A good scientist always double-checks results. This is especially important if your hypothesis is different from what most people think. It is also important if your research disproves your hypothesis (if the results are not what you expected). You may need time to do the experiment a second or third time. Follow the directions in your log. Does it turn out the same way? If not, what happened? Did you forget to write down one of the steps? Were there other variables that might have changed the results?  Once you are sure your results can be repeated by other people, you need to draw a conclusion.


In an experiment, you learn whether your hypothesis is true or false. But you always learn more. How can you put what you learned to work in everyday life?  Examples:

  • If hot water boils faster than cold water, you can have spaghetti sooner if you put hot water on to boil.
  • If your cat likes cheaper food as well as she likes expensive food, you can save some money.
  • If grass grows an inch every 9 days, do you have to mow the lawn every 7 days?

Once you have reached your conclusion, you will want to write a report. Your report tells about your project in a way that an ordinary person can understand. It summarizes the entire scientific method.

What did you want to find out? What did you do to find it out? What happened? Where did you get your materials? How much did they cost? How much time did it take? These are things that people would like to know.


Always Remember…

  • Don’t copy. It’s okay to get the idea for your project from someone else, but don’t copy another kid’s work. Start from the beginning and do everything yourself. Copying someone else’s work is called plagiarism. It is wrong.
  • Don’t let your parents help too much. It’s okay to ask them for advice or some help. But if they try to take over your project, remind them this is YOUR project, not their project.
  • Credit your sources. While you do your project, you will probably get some help from people, books or web sites. Be sure to list the help you got as part of your written report.