Robert Watson 
Article Title
Building a Middle School Science Fair Project 
Posted Date

So it's time to create a project for your school science fair. Well, here's my guide to making the task of selecting, implementing and presenting a winning project as easy, educational and fun as possible! In the beginning there was... the small question of what should be your science fair project. Okay, it's not really a "small" question, but basically the key factors to ponder are: -- What is expected of you as a middle school student; and -- What will make a good impact on your teacher and audience?

My observation is that you want a project that challenges you a little and shows not only a scientific phenomenon in action, but also solves one of life's little mysteries. What project you take on will also be confined by your environment, and what equipment, substances, etc you have at your disposal. And certainly choose something you are likely to enjoy working on. That way, you won't need the dreaded deadline to motivate you to get it done.

If you're stuck for ideas, here are a few issues you may wish to explore:

  • How much of a fruit is made up of water? Find out the water percentages of fruits like oranges, lemons and watermelons.
  • How much oil do different kinds of deep fried potatoes contain? Compare whole potatoes, thick-cut potato wedges and conventional fries.
  • What causes you to cry when cutting an onion? Is there a special way of cutting it that will not bring on tears?
  • Which has more vitamins - canned, frozen, or fresh carrots?
  • How does magnetism affect how plants grow?
  • What different factors cause seeds to germinate?

Test things like the: intensity, duration or type of light; air temperature; the amount of water; presence or absence of certain chemicals; or soil type. Some experiments may require you to carefully control the surroundings. If so, try to get rid of anything (or any person!) that may impact on your findings. Also, if your project actually yields findings you didn't envisage, you may need to check whether there were some factors you hadn't taken into account. Alternatively, if everything was as it should be and the results have still diverged from what you thought would arise, that's worth discussing in your presentation.

The final step is to prepare your formal presentation. Be relaxed and confident. Discuss why you chose your project, what you did to conduct it, and the results. By all means, rehearse your talk in front of family and others. Get them to ask you questions so you can prepare for the questions your teacher or fellow students may ask. That's it - a guide to selecting, implementing and presenting a winning project for your middle school science fair! Above all, try to enjoy yourself. This is not only an opportunity to learn something, but also to see how fun science can be.

Robert Watson is a high school math teacher with over 4 years experience as a science fair judge. Visit his website for more information about Middle school science fair projects and ideas for helping complete them. 
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