All About Science Fair


    Basic Science Fair Info

    Who participates in science fair? All 9th Grade HONORS Physical Science students are required to participate in the HHS science fair. However, the science fair is open to everyone and we encourage all of our students to participate. (You’re a teenager! It's your natural inclination to question everything! Why not make it useful!)

    What is the Science Fair? The science fair is a school event in which students display the experimental design, data and results of science and engineering experiments that they have conducted. It is a day dedicated to scientific inquiry. (No, it is not a day of torture devised by overworked teachers as a means to get back at those pesky kids! What a silly idea!)

    Why do we have a science fair? Not only will students learn more about science, but scientific experimentation also teaches kids how to think critically. Basic scientific processes and experimentation develop inherent thinking skills that will enhance student learning in all subject areas and improve translation of that knowledge into their daily lives. (Like figuring out how to fix the dishwasher for you after they wash their tennis shoes in it!)

    How do parents help their child do a science fair project? Your task in project development is to guide your child through the project allowing her to assume as much of the responsibility as possible. You should provide support (yelling is not an option!)), offer advice where necessary (telling them to join the circus won't help the process), help with expenses (when can they get a job?), and provide transportation (as always) if needed. Parents will also want to supervise by making certain that the investigation is safe for the student (You lose points for every body part you injure - your's or your younger sibling's!)). In addition, parents should occasionally check on the progress of the project to insure that it is progressing according to the established time lines (Yes, there are set due dates!). Finally, when the student writes the report to accompany the project, the parent may offer to proofread the written report or make suggestions for improvement (BE NICE!).

    How do I get started? That's the spirit!! Attached is the required paperwork, school due dates, categories and descriptions, and rules and schedule for the HHS science fair. Good luck!

    Below are some links that will let you sort through science fair project ideas. When you find a project that interests you, write down or print the link. Search until you can't search anymore! Then, make a top ten list. Review the projects and write a pro and con list for each. Be careful to consider the time, expense, and expertise that each project requires. If you are really interested in a project, but aren't sure that you are up to the challenge, talk to your teacher or see Mrs. Seal. There are lots of resources (people and places) that would love to help you out! Go for the gusto! Choose a worthy, challenging project that you are thoroughly interested in!

    Due Dates

    Check with your individual teachers for when ideas and 1st drafts of your research plans are due.

    Checklist for the Adult Sponsor, Student Checklist, Approval Form, Research Plan, any specialized paperwork , and revised research plans for all students.

    0 Entire Project Due!!! Turn in your project board or portfolio to your teacher by 3:00 that day. You may turn it in early at any time during the school day to your teacher.

     - School Science Fair Judging (during school) Students will present their projects to the judges during their science or elective classes. Presentations should not exceed 5 minutes. Judges will ask questions after presentations.

    - Awards announced on Channel One at school.

    - Pick up projects by this day after school, during science class, or at lunch until 4:00. Projects will be disposed of if not picked up by Friday.


    1. The exhibitor's name, grade, project title, teacher’s name, and class schedule for the day of the fair MUST be written on a 3 X 5" index card and attached to the back of the display.

    2. The projects are to be the work of the exhibitor and must follow the scientific method. Other individuals may give advice and assist in construction of backboards.

    3. The maximum size of the project must not exceed 30 inches from front to back and 48 inches in width. It can be smaller. Maximum height allowed is 108 inches. All projects should be on project boards which are available at school supply stores.

    4. All equipment and tools necessary for the project must be provided by the student. If electricity is needed, the student must supply a UL approved extension cord of at least 9-foot length.

    5. All projects must be meet all safety requirements provided in the science fair packet.

    6. The following may not be displayed as part of a project at school or parish fairs plants or soil, water or other liquids, chemicals, live animals, food, preserved vertebrate animals or parts, including embryos, mold or bacterial cultures, glass, including containers, light bulbs, and fluorescent tubes, charts, diagrams, photographs, empty boxes, labels, etc. may be used to document the planning, development and results of a project.

    Required Paperwork

    This year, HHS will be using the same paperwork for our fair that is required for district, regional, state, and international science fair. All students are required to fill out the following 4 pieces of paperwork.  The forms are located at the bottom of the page.

    1. Adult Sponsor Checklist

    2. Student Checklist

    3. Approval Form

    4. Abstract Form

    Certain projects will also need some of the paperwork below. I will discuss with each student what paperwork they will need.  Needed forms can be found below.

    5. Registered Research Institution

    6. Qualified Scientist

    7. Risk Assessment 

    8. Humans Subjects Informed Consent

    9. vertebrate Animal Form

    10. Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents

    11. Human vertebrate Animal Tissue

    12. Continuation Projects Form 


    Animal Sciences – Study of animals and animal life, including the study of the structure, physiology, development, and classification of animals. Animal ecology, physiology, animal husbandry, cytology, histology, entomology, ichthyology, ornithology, herpetology, etc.

    · Behavioral and Social Sciences – The science or study of the thought processes and behavior of humans and other animals in their interactions with the environment studied through observational and experimental methods.

    · Biochemistry – The study of the chemical substances and vital processes occurring in living organisms, the processes by which these substances enter into, or are formed in, the organisms and react with each other and the environment.

    · Chemistry – The science of the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter, especially of atomic and molecular systems.

    · Computer Science – The study of information processes, the structures and procedures that represent processes, and their implementation in information processing systems. It includes systems analysis and design, application and system software design, programming, and datacenter operations.

    · Earth and Planetary Science – The study of sciences related to the planet Earth. Geology, mineralogy, physiography, oceanography, meteorology, climatology, speleology, seismology, geography, atmospheric sciences, etc.

    · Engineering: Electrical and Mechanical – The application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical structures, processes, and systems.

    · Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering – The application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical machines and systems.

    · Energy and Transportation – The study of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, clean transport, and alternative fuels.

    · Environmental Management – The study of managing man’s interaction with the environment.

    · Environmental Sciences – The analysis of existing conditions of the environment.

    · Mathematical Science – The study of the measurement, properties, and relationships of quantities and sets, using numbers and symbols. The deductive study of numbers, geometry, and various abstract constructs, or structures. Mathematics is very broadly divided into foundations, algebra, analysis, geometry, and applied mathematics, which includes theoretical computer science.

    · Medicine and Health Sciences – The science of diagnosing, treating, or preventing disease and other damage to the body or mind.

    · Physics and Astronomy – Physics is the science of matter and energy and of interactions between the two. Astronomy is the study of anything in the universe beyond Earth.

    · Plant Sciences – The study of plant life. Ecology, agronomy, horticulture, forestry, plant taxonomy, physiology, pathology, plant genetics, hydroponics, algae, etc.


    Saftey Checklist



    ___ 1. Exhibit Size - W 48" X D 30" X H 108” maximum

    ___ 2. Student name on project is okay

    ___ 3. Self-supporting exhibit – weight not to exceed 80 lbs.

    ___ 4. UL approved extension cords with grounded plug, all connections soldered; no uninsulated wire, nails, or tacks

    ___ 5. No quarantined substances

    ___ 6. No living organisms (e.g., plants, animals, microbes)

    ___ 7. No dried plant materials

    ___ 8. No microbial cultures and fungi, live or dead, including unknown specimens objects, or other objects dangerous to public safety

    ___ 9. No taxidermy specimens or parts

    ___ 10. No preserved vertebrate or invertebrate animals (includes embryos)

    ___ 11. No human or animal food.

    ___ 12. No human/animal parts or body fluids (e.g., blood, urine) (Exceptions with SRC approval: teeth, hair, nails, dried animal bones, histological dry mount sections, and wet mount tissue slides)

    ___ 13. No soil, sand, rocks or waste samples

    ___ 14. No laboratory chemicals including water

    ___ 15. No liquid or solid gases

    ___ 16. No poisons, drugs, controlled substances, hazardous substances or devices (i.e.; firearms, weapons, ammunition, reloading devices, gun powder)

    ___ 17. No dry ice or sublimating solids

    ___ 18. No sharp items (i.e., syringes, needles, pipettes, knives, scalpels, etc.)

    ___ 19. No flames open or concealed, explosives, noxious fumes; no heat above 100 degrees Celsius

    ___ 20. No highly flammable display materials

    ___ 21. No batteries with open top cells

    ___ 22. No photographs or other visual presentations depicting vertebrate animals in other than normal conditions (i.e.; surgical techniques, dissections, etc.)

    ___ 23. No glass

    ___ 24. No empty tanks that previously contained combustibles, liquids or gases, unless purged with carbon dioxide


    Project You Should Not Do

    any topic that boils down to a simple preference or taste comparison. For example, "Which tastes better: Coke or Pepsi?" Such experiments don't involve the kinds of numerical measurements we want in a science fair project. They are more of a survey than an experiment.

    Most consumer product testing of the "Which is best?" type. This includes comparisons of popcorn, bubblegum, make-up, detergents, cleaning products, and paper towels. These projects only have scientific validity if the Investigator fully understands the science behind why the product works and applies that understanding to the experiment. While many consumer products are easy to use, the science behind them is often at the level of a graduate student in college.

    Any topic that requires people to recall things they did in the past. The data tends to be unreliable.

    Effect of colored light on plants Several people do this project at almost every science fair. You can be more creative!

    Effect of music or talking on plants Difficult to measure.

    Effect of running, music, video games, or almost anything on blood pressure The result is either obvious (the heart beats faster when you run) or difficult to measure with proper controls (the effect of music).

    Effect of color on memory, emotion, mood, taste, strength, etc. Highly subjective and difficult to measure.

    Any topic that requires measurements that will be extremely difficult to make or repeat, given your equipment. Without measurement, you can't do science.

    Graphology or handwriting analysis. Questionable scientific validity.

    Astrology or ESP. No scientific validity.

    Any topic that requires dangerous, hard to find, expensive, or illegal materials. Violates the rules of virtually any science fair.

    Any topic that requires drugging, pain, or injury to a live vertebrate animal. Violates the rules of virtually any science fair.

    Any topic that creates unacceptable risk (physical or psychological) to a human subject. Violates the rules of virtually any science fair.

    Any topic that involves collection of tissue samples from living humans or vertebrate animals. Violates the rules of virtually any science fair.


    Also, please make sure that your project:
    1. Has results that measurable in exact scientific units – ml, ounces, cm, km, degrees.
    2. If you measure percentage, make sure that your percentages are derived from measured results and not guesses.
    3. Has at least 100 data sets – 100 humans tested, 100 plants grown, 100 trials, etc.
    4. Has sufficient repeated trials to validate your findings.
    5. Is grade level appropriate.

    What Should Your Project Board Look Like

    Being driven to the store by pajama-wearing parents at the last minute is the most important part of any science-fair project, because your project, to be legal, must have an Official Science Fair Display Board. This is a big white board that you fold into three sections, thus giving it the stability that it needs to collapse instantly when approached by humans. The international scientific community does not recognize any scientific discovery that does not have an Official Science Fair Display Board teetering behind it; many top scientists fail to win the Nobel Prize for exactly this reason.
    "Weird Science" By Dave Barry, The Miami Herald, March 20, 1998

    There is no set formula for the perfect project board. However, here are some answers to you FAQ's:

    1. Where can I find a board? THEY"RE EVERYWHERE!! It's kind of like the love bugs in summer, when it's time for them, you find them everywhere! Most local stores carry project boards. Office store tend to carry more colorful varieties. Brighter colors tend to draw the judges eyes more.

    2. How do I set up my board? There is no set way that you must set up your board. However, here is an example that may help you. Remember, you may vary from this format, just make sure that all of the portions listed are on your board.

    Problem - What question are you trying to answer in your project?

    Hypothesis - If you...... then ..... (What are you doing and what do you expect to happen?)

    Title - Make it big and eye catching! Across the whole top.

    Materials - An exact list of all materials used including quantity and concentrations.

    Graphs/Tables/ Photos - YOU MUST HAVE GRAPHS!! Tables and photos are great to add.
    Results - The written form of what you showed in your graphs. What happened - just the quantitative data!

    Conclusion - What did you learn from your results? Is your hypothesis proven or disproven? How would you improve or change the experiment?

    3. Can I make my own board? Yes, of course. It must be self supporting and not weigh more than 80 lbs. The dimensions must not exceed W 48" x D 30" x H 108".

    4. How important is a good board? Well, that is debatable. Most science fair gurus agree that a good board goes a long way. I would say that experimental design is most important, of course. However, if deciding between two equal projects, a good eye catching board may take the cake!