The Non-Scientist Parent's Guide to Science Fair Projects
A Science Board That Isn't Boring
After the science project is finished, you want it to look it's very best for the science fair! You want the project to reflect how hard your child has worked on it.
ORGANIZING YOUR SCIENCE BOARD
A science board is usually a three fold display divided into several sections. Each section can be headed by an identifying title. The section title at the right is an example of how you can add color and style to your project.
Title, Purpose and Hypothesis - Every science board has to display the project title and purpose - and they aren't necessarily the same thing. For example, we sell the guide to a project called, "EGG-XPERIMENTING!" The purpose of the project, however, is to discover "Does water move through the membrane of an egg?" The title will usually be displayed in the center panel at the top or on an extra board fastened across the top of your project. Have a separate section for your hypothesis.
Materials and Procedure - These two sections list what you used in your experiment, and what steps you took to accomplish them. It always looks nice to use bullets (little dots or marks) or numbers in your list. Remember, the information in these sections should read like a recipe, and give instructions for your project to be repeated by someone else! You'll want to be as clear as possible. If you can, get another adult to read over your procedures to see if they can follow what you have done.
Data and Results - The format of your data and results section will depend on the experiment you have done. You will probably include your graph and chart in this section. You may also give a paragraph summarizing your results. Graphs and charts should be colorful and clear. If you need to learn to produce charts and graphs on your own, you can learn quickly with Learn Microsoft Office. Of course, with 24 Hour Science Projects, we provide a spreadsheet that creates the graphs and charts for you automatically. Instead of taking an hour - or two, your chart can be finished in about five minutes!
Conclusion, Analysis, Applications, References - These sections will not always be required. Check with your teacher to see if you need to include them.
NOTE: MANY SCIENCE FAIRS DO NOT WANT A STUDENT NAME ON THE PROJECT. BEFORE YOU PUT YOUR CHILD'S NAME ON THE BOARD, CHECK AND MAKE SURE!
MAKING YOUR DISPLAY LOOK GREAT
Using Color -
Office Depot offers display board in many colors. You can use different colors of paper, borders, and fonts. It's fun to have the colors on your display reflect some aspect of your project. When we did our project Vitamin "C"itrus, we used citrus colors for our paper, and used the same colors on the graph. You can also print your material on white paper, but mount it on colored paper, so it looks framed. Don't use so many colors that your project looks too flashy or gaudy - you want the colors to draw attention to your work, not be a distraction.
Display Hints - We've found that printing on card stock produces a neater board. We've also had great results with
a full sheet of labels, in other words, one 8 1/2 x 11 sticker that you simply stick onto your board. Be creative with your printing. Once, when we were doing A Slice of Ice we printed on overhead transparencies cut in the shape of dripping ice.
Make your display as uniform as possible. Use the same borders for each element. Use the same font for headers, and the same font for the information in each section. Make sure the sections are all aligned the same on each panel of the board. We like to left align the right panel, center align in the middle, and right align the left panel. Try to leave about the same amount of space between each section.
Extras - You can use photographs of your experiment to enhance your project and to make your display board look balanced. It's also nice to have some of your project items to display in front of your board. Many schools do not allow food or chemicals in the fair itself, but empty containers or imitation food will work fine. You can take an empty bottle and use a permanent marker to add a 'label'. A dollar store is a great place to find inexpensive props for your experiment. Try to vary the height of the objects you display. A log or your abstract can also be part of your display.
Assembly - LAY OUT THE PROJECT COMPLETELY BEFORE YOU GLUE OR STICK! We've had major disasters when we've not followed this rule. Use a thin layer of white glue instead of a glue stick. (One year, as our son walked into the school with his science project, I watched from the car as half of the information fell off. It had come "un-glue-sticked" overnight.) Another option is to use spray adhesive, just don't get it on your carpet unless you don't like the carpet you have now. (I got hard wood floors after we ruined our beige rug!)
So - are you ready to go?! Choose your topic, your experiment, gather your materials and get started! And, in case we haven't shamelessly plugged them enough, remember that we have science projects of every type at http://www.onlinescienceprojects.com.
We'd love to help you and your child with a science project that is a winner! We hope you have a wonderful time with your project.