What is a Science Fair?
A science fair is a place for students to present their science projects to professional scientists and to the community. Its main purpose is to get you excited about science by doing it rather than simply learning about it. A scientist first asks a question about some aspect of the world and then tries to find its answer. At the science fair, each student presents a project, both visually and orally, with the question and answer displayed in an interesting way. Students should be able to explain their projects and answer questions. The science fair will also include a science activity expo, where students will have an opportunity to see and interact with cool technologies, devices, and scientists.
How do I start a science fair project or experiment?
A detailed planning guide that we gave during a workshop can be found here.
What do I need to do for the Science Fair?
- Each project must have an exhibition that includes:
- Oral presentation
- The exhibition may also contain:
- Physical models
- Computer program
- Special apparatus
- Log book or journal
What should the poster include?
- Poster should be free-standing (e.g. three sides of a cardboard box work well, or you can buy a standard, tri-fold poster at stores like Staples.)
- A short report that contains:
- Introduction: Background information on your topic, why you chose this topic
- The question: What is the question you set out to answer? Include your hypothesis (for experimental projects) or statement of purpose (for invention/engineering/computer projects).
- Materials and methods (procedure): How did you try to answer your question? Explain the materials you used and how you conducted your experiment or how you planned and built your invention/design.
- Results: Show and explain your observations and results (include graphs, charts, tables, drawings or photos). Include your original log book or journal with your project at the fair!
- Conclusions: What did you conclude about the question you investigated?
- Bibliography: List any references or sources if you did research.
General Safety Rules
- Do not hurt or scare people or animals, including yourself, as part of an experiment.
- Do not publish the names of your subjects.
- Do not use dangerous materials in your project except in very special situations when you get permission from the coordinators. Ask advice about this from your parents or the organizers.
What Makes a Good Project?
- Ask a question in a subject you are interested in – it’s something you like to think about and will be happy to spend time working on. For example, you may have a pet bird at home who is a very picky eater. What is its favorite food? Does it ever get tired of eating the same food all the time? Once you’ve chosen a question, you must figure out a way to find the answer to your question. There are many ways to answer questions. You can design an experiment or a survey, build a model, or write a computer program that can help you find the answer.
- A good project is one you can do mostly by yourself, with only a little help from grown-ups: parents, Science Fair Organizers (our names and contact information are at the end of the packet), teachers, and friends. The reason to do a project is that it is fun and will help you learn something you didn’t know before. Having someone else help you too much takes away some of your fun at discovering something new, and you don’t learn as much. Your project doesn’t have to be perfect – if it follows the scientific method and is neat enough to read, then it is good.
- A good project is something you design and build by yourself from regular or every-day materials. Doing it by yourself is more satisfying than simply buying a kit someone else made in the store. Creative projects using basic materials make for the most impressive science fair projects!
- A good project is one that, when you’re done with it, makes you wonder about other things. Did seeing what happened in your project make you think of other questions you’d like to know the answer to? That’s a great project!
Judging Criteria and Awards
- Students in grades 5-8 are included in the formal competition.
- Students in Pre-K through 4 will interact with scientists and receive feedback, but there will be no competition.
- Judging takes place by grade. Group projects that include students from different grades are classified according to the grade of the oldest participant.
- A first prize and, potentially, additional prizes will be awarded in each grade from grade 3-8.
- Home-built models carry more weight than commercial kits.
- Judging criteria (more detailed criteria for the Middle School Science Fair are below):
- Scientific Approach
- Knowledge of Project Area
- Written Records and Reports
- Ingenuity and Creativity
- Visual Presentation
Important Information for Middle School Participants:
Students in 6th-8th grade who are interested in participating in Heath Science Fair should be sure that their research project is in compliance with the rules of the Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair (MSEF). Some students, depending upon the type of project they pick, will need to submit a Research Plan, and possibly other forms, to the MSEF before they begin their project. Also, the MSEF has policies regarding appropriate student documentation of their scientific process in a lab book.
Before starting your project, visit the MSEF website: https://scifair.com/state-fairs/middle-school-fair/middle-school-manual-forms/ to learn more about the MSEF (and therefore Heath Science Fair) rules for grades 6th-8th. In particular, be sure to read the following documents:
- Middle School Manual
- Research Regulations
- MSEF Ethics Statement
This website also has any forms you may need if your project requires advance approval by the MSEF.
Participants in our Middle School Science Fair may qualify to go on to regional and statewide science fairs. The Massachusetts Region V Middle School Science & Engineering Fair, will be held on April 22 at Regis College. Additional information can be found at: https://sites.google.com/site/regiscollege-edu-region-v-science-fair-teams-edition-backup
The Middle School Science Fair judging criteria are more detailed and have been borrowed from the Massachusetts regional fair (these are also available by link from the above website):
- Scientific Approach (possible 25 points)
- Did the student start with a clearly stated hypothesis or statement of an engineering goal?
- Was the student orderly and logical with the setup and follow-through of the project?
- Were the student's conclusions consistent with the data he or she collected?
- Knowledge of Project Area (possible 20 points)
- How effectively did the student conduct preliminary research?
- What was the extent of the student’s knowledge of material related to the project?
- Was the student aware of both the scope and limitations of the project?
- Thoroughness (possible 20 points)
- Did the student do sufficient research in the literature before starting the project?
- Was thorough use made of data and observations?
- Was the original plan successfully followed through to completion?
- Written Records and Reports (possible 15 points)**
- Did the student keep an original handwritten, bound logbook with all plans, procedures, observations, and conclusions for failures as well as successes?
- Did the student put together an accurate written report, complete with a bibliography?
- Ingenuity and Creativity (possible 15 points)
- Was the explanation of the project clear and precise?
- How well did the student use his or her materials in the solution of problems?
- Did the student present any new or unique ideas?
- Visual Presentation (possible 5 points)
- Was the project displayed in a logical and organized manner?
- Were charts and graphs used where needed?
- Did the display and posters effectively convey the message in an understandable manner?
**Please make sure you have a logbook or journal.
What can I not use or bring to the science fair?
- Students’ Science Fair projects may not involve, at any stage of the project, the following: •Blood products, fresh tissue, skin, teeth or bodily fluids
- Nonhuman vertebrate animals and their parts, exception unfertilized eggs shells
- Ingestion, absorption or inhalation of any substance by humans subjects (no smelling/wafting or eating/chewing of ANYTHING)—NOTHING in or on parts of mouth or skin—including but not limited to teeth, tongue, lips.
- Pathogenic agents*
- Recombinant DNA
- Carcinogenic or mutagenic chemicals
- Compressed gas (exception: helium, CO2, air, purchased for home use)
- Controlled substances*
- Explosive chemicals
- Hazardous substances or devices (including, but not limited to BB guns, paint ball guns, potato cannons, air cannons)
- High voltage equipment
- Highly toxic chemicals
- Lasers (any strength) exception: infared thermometer with Supervision Form D
- Ionizing radiation X-rays or nuclear energy
- Radioactive materials
Controlled substances, including DEA-classed substances, prescription drugs, alcohol and tobacco are not allowed.
Pathogenic agents are disease causing, or potential disease-causing organisms such as bacteria, viruses, viroids, prions, rickettsia, fungi, mold and others.
- Organisms collected, isolated and/or cultured from any environment (e.g., air, soil, water) are considered potentially pathogenic and experiments using these procedures will not be allowed. All plant projects must use sterile, bagged potting soil.
- Raw or partially processed human/animal waste is considered to contain potentially pathogenic agents.
- Each project must have an exhibition that includes: