Planning Your Project

Topic Selection

Selection of a Science Fair project requires more than just picking something that you want to know.  In order to be successful students must ensure that they have the resources and materials to carry the project through to the end.  If your library or home resources cannot match your research needs, can you find alternative sources?  The following link will take you to a page designed to get you started.  Buy a bound notebook to serve as a journal to record everything you do.  The Science Fair Research Proposal Sheet was written to provide you with the starting point to create a successful science fair project.  Print out a copy and use it to start your journal!

2.  Setting Target Dates

For most people a big project is difficult to comprehend.  By breaking down your Science Fair Project into smaller sections you will be able to organize your time.  By working your way back from the Science Fair date you will be able to set your own deadlines.  As you complete each section, tick the appropriate box off until you are presenting at your science fair.  Click on the link and print out your copy of the Science Fair Project Deadline Sheet.

3. Calendar Dates for Work Sessions


It might be helpful to use a calendar to keep track of the work you will do for your project. If you are working with a partner use the calendar to help you set up common work times and meeting dates for reviewing progress.  Share the load; decide together which tasks each person will tackle.

4.  Presentation

On your Deadline Sheet you will notice a section titled “Presentation.”  By planning, organizing, and practising your oral presentation before others you will come to understand your project more fully.  Allow at least 2 days prior to your school presentation to brush up on your delivery.  Whenever possible illustrate your point using hands-on demonstrations or participation.  Don’t be afraid to get your judges involved and enthused about your project!

Steps to a Complete  Project

Once you have chosen your topic, do the following:
1.  Research your Topic
Read books from the Library
Observe related events
Gather existing information
Look for unexplained or unexpected results
Talk to professionals
Write to companies
Obtain or construct needed equipment

2.  Organize and Theorize
Organize your research
Narrow down your hypothesis by focusing on a particular idea

3.  Make a Timetable
Choose a topic that can be done in the amount of time you have
Identify important dates
Allow plenty of time to experiment and collect data
Leave time to write a paper and put together an exhibit

4.  Plan your Experiment, Study or Innovation
Write a research plan to explain how you will do your experiment

5.  Consult your Teacher/Supervisor
Discuss your work with an adult supervisor on an ongoing basis

6.  Conduct Your Experiments, Study or Innovation
Keep detailed notes of every experiment, measurement, and observation.
Change only one variable at a time when experimenting.
Include control experiments in which none of the variables are changed.
Include sufficient numbers of test subjects in both control and experimental groups.

7.  Examine Your Results
When you complete your experiments, examine and organize your findings.
Did your experiment give you the expected results?
Was your experiment performed with the exact same steps each time?
Are there other causes that you had not considered or observed?
Were there errors in your observations?
If possible, analyze your data statistically.

8.  Draw Conclusions
Which variables are important?
Did you collect enough data?
Do you need to conduct more experimentation?

Helpful Hints

  • Your title should be simple and represent your research accurately.
  • If elements of your project cannot be safety exhibited at the fair, incorporate photographs of important phases of your experiment to use in your display. Photographs of people require their consent.
  • Your display should be presented logically and be easy to read. When you arrange your display, imagine you are seeing it for the first time.
  • Make your display stand out. Use neat, colourful headings, charts, and graphs. Home-made equipment, construction paper and coloured markers are excellent for project displays. Pay special attention to the labelling of graphs, charts, diagrams, and tables.
  • Be sure to adhere to the size limitations and safety rules when displaying your project.
    Make sure your display is sturdy.

Project Content Checklist

Scientific Thought

  • Is the problem stated clearly?
  • Was there an effective plan for obtaining a solution?
  • Does the project carry out its purpose?
  • If controls were necessary, was there a recognition of their need and were they used correctly?
  • Are the variables clearly recognized and defined?
  • Are there adequate data to support the conclusion?
  • Are the experimental errors inherent in the measurements made and recognized in the materials used? (The variability inherent in living materials is often overlooked by students.)
  • Is it clear how the project ties in with related research?
  • Does the project cite scientific literature?
  • Does the project state that further research is indicated?
  • Is there a practical application for your work?


Does the work reflect your own thought, experience and knowledge? Avoid reproducing the work of others. Collections are not considered original unless they are used to support an investigation and help to answer a question in a creative way.


  • Did you build the equipment?
  • Did you make skilful use of the information facilities available?
  • Is an adequate scientific vocabulary demonstrated in relation to the problem?
  • Do you understand the terms used?
  • Is the finish on the exhibit display board attractive, neat and well done?
  • Are the data complete and are they the product of individual research?

Project Evaluation Forms

On the Judges page you will find the instructions that are given to the judges prior to judging your Southern Tier Scholastic Science Fair project, as well as the actual judging forms for you to print in order to evaluate your own project and presentation.  Have other students, teachers, parents or fellow scientists evaluate your project before the fair so you can make improvements!


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