Almost every student will create a Science Fair project at one point or another. Many teachers require a project from every student as a part of the curriculum, even if the student does not participate in the statewide competition that is held annually. The California State Science Fair is for students in grade 6 to 12. The  students submit science fair projects; usually ones created as a part of their schoolwork and are selected by teachers for judging. The winners receive prizes.


What is Science Fair Project?


A science fair project usually consists of an experimental study in which a scientific principle is investigated according to the scientific method. There are several different parts to a science fair project. The most crucial part to a science fair project is a strong question. All science far projects attempt to answer a scientific question. Strong projects also include extensive and thorough background research. This research is conducted even before the experiment is begun and helps the student to design a successful project using the information that he or she gathers and learns about her or her topic. Next, a well-designed experiment must be executed with minimal errors and logical planning with controlled variables. A logbook will accompany the experiment describing, in detail, the process of the experiment as it is happening. Finally, data, results, and a thorough analysis of the results will end the report.


In addition to a report, a presentation backboard will be submitted displaying the information visually in an easy-to-understand manner. This will be displayed to the judges. The report and logbook will accompany the display.


What makes for a good Science Fair Project?


The foremost aspect of creating a successful science fair project is writing a good question. But what makes for a good question? A good question is specific. Experimenters who choose overly general questions such as, “Why is grass green?” cannot possibly answer the question completely and thoroughly. Also when a question is too general, it is very difficult to design an experiment that will answer the question effectively. Good questions have a clear path to an experiment. On the other hand, the answer to the question should not be obvious because the experiment must be appropriate for the student’s grade level. Finally, good questions can be tested. A question asking about the organic compounds found on Mars cannot b tested using the means available to students and would not make for a good project.


A good project will use specific quantitative methods to test a hypothesis. Methodology and measurements should be as exact as possible and recorded as accurately and precisely as possible in the logbook The analysis of these results is also very important that is a chart, or a bar graph or line graph depends on the experiment. The judges also look for controls in the experiment’s design because controls act as evidence that the manipulated variable is or is not affecting the response variable as the student expected. Controls verify that any trends in data were not due to chance, were not independent of the manipulated variable, and were not due to an outside variable. Repeated trials are another way to establish accuracy in an experiment.


Finally, an insightful and well-though-out analysis and a conclusion are very important. The conclusion of the experiment should do more than summarize the data and results but also draw inferences from it. It should explain what the data means and also explain what it could mean. The conclusion should go somewhat beyond the scope of the experiment and consider the complications of the data on a larger scale.


The Competition


For some, Science Fair well extend beyond the scope of a simple school project and actually continue into district, regional, state, and national competition. To compete at one level, the student must receive approval from the lower levels. This means that only the best projects for each school will move on to the district science fair and only the best from the district science fair will move onto the regional science fair, and so on. Students will enter their project into a category and compete against the other candidates in that category. The possible categories vary from competition to completion.


Judging is done by a group of engineers, scientists, and science educators. Each of the projects is judged based on five elements. They are: creativity, scientific thought/engineering goals, thoroughness, skill, and clarity. Judges study the project presentation report, and interview the student about the project. Scores in each category for every project and the highest scoring projects in each category will receive prizes. First Place, Second Place, and Honorable Mention prizes are awarded. In some instances, winners also have the opportunity to move on to the higher levels of competition. Each region, district, or school usually has a set number of entries that can move on to the higher level. For instance, in Orange County, only 15 entries can be submitted form an individual school.


Regulations for competition vary from area to area. In some areas, team projects are allowed whereas in others, only individuals may compete. Check the website for the science fair in your region for details for the regulations.




OC Science & Engineering Fair


The OC Science & Engineering Fair has a total of 16 categories and is separated into 6-8 grade junior division and a 9-12 grade senior division. The judges are a grouped of engineers, scientists, and science educators, and prizes are awarded to students sponsored by different researching institutes.


California State Science Fair


The 56th annual California State Science Fair was held in 2007. On May 22nd at the California science center, there were 60 students chosen out of 969 to share a $50,000 scholarship. In 2008, there are a total of 20 divisions in the competition, including Aerodynamics/Hydrodynamics*, Applied Mechanics & Structures, Behavioral & Social Sciences, Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Cognitive Science*, Earth & Planetary Sciences, Electronics & Electromagnetics, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Science*, Mammalian Biology, Materials Science*, Mathematics & Software, Microbiology, pharmacology/Toxicology, Physics & Astronomy, Plant Biology, Product Science (Biological)*, Product Science (Physical)* and Zoology (* means junior division only). The champion in the senior division in 2003 studied the Iron Nanowire Fabrication through Electronically Step Edge Decoration on Highly Pyrolytic Graphite. Another winning essay was on the study of the relationship between the thumb of a baby and the increase in weight. In addition, students from the junior division in 2006 once studies how to prevent ants from getting inside of the house by not using any harmful substance to human, and they found out the most effective way was to use baby powder. In the senior division, there were students who studied the effect of the amount of Pluorine on teeth. Student from the junior division discovered that a certain type of seismic wave cause the most damage to buildings. Although the research topics are broad, every year at the awards ceremony, there more than a few brilliant Chinese students on the podium accepting awards.