Careers & Education

Ideas for middle school science fair projects

By David Pettebone
Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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boy with a magnifying glass looking at plants
For an award-winning science fair project, follow these steps and ideas.
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Enhance Your Child's Learning Experience

It's that time of year again. Your son or daughter comes home and tells you that the school science fair is coming up. Hopefully, you have a few weeks to plan the project and get it ready for the fair. Let's look at the makings of great middle school science fair projects and some ideas to help you get started.

Science Fair Project Procedure First of all, it is important to make sure that your child is interested in the project idea. When a child chooses a topic that captures his or her attention, it will be easier to complete the project and learn from it. As a parent, you may offer suggestions, but make sure that the final decision is one that your child is happy with.

Once a broad topic is chosen, you'll want to think of a purpose. That is, what exactly do you want do figure out with this project? You may want to make a statement regarding the purpose. For example, if your child finds biology interesting, the purpose could be to find out how classical music affects plant growth.

The next step is to think of a hypothesis. This is a question or statement based on the purpose. In the case of music and plants, the question might be, "How does classical music affect plant growth?" Or it could be a statement such as, "Classical music will help plants grow faster than normal." During the project, you will answer the question or find out if the statement is true or false.

Now you're ready to start the project. Gather all the information, do the research and purchase the supplies needed for the experiment. During this phase, it is a good idea to keep the project as simple as possible. With the plant experiment, you may want to set up two potted plants. Play music to one plant for a certain amount of time each day, and let the other plant grow in a quiet room. Measure the plants before the experiment, record the music sessions, and then measure the plants again at the end of a week.

Be sure to record the results from the project. You may want to make charts or graphs to display the findings. If a report is written, keep it clear and focus on the facts observed.

Finally, you'll want to draw a conclusion. Write down what was learned from the project. Did you find an answer to the hypothesis? Did you prove a statement to be true or false? Don't worry if the hypothesis turns out to be false; you still have learned something. The conclusion reflects the knowledge gained through the science fair project.

Science Fair Project Ideas Now that you have an understanding of the procedure, it's time to narrow down the idea. Following is a list of hypotheses to help you get started.

How do plants know which way to grow? How well can a person remember what he or she sees on television? Do different brands of orange juice contain different levels of vitamin c? Can water be split into hydrogen and oxygen? Can air pressure alone cause an egg to be pushed into a bottle? Do different brands of sunscreen have different strengths? Can you demonstrate why the sky is blue? How does lava flow when a volcano erupts? Do sound barriers reduce noise? Does the level of precipitation differ in various parts of the United States? What are the different types of clouds and how are they formed? Is it possible to make a tornado in a bottle? Which tile cleaner removes soap scum the best? Does the temperature of water affect the time needed for it to freeze?

After reviewing these questions, you can get started on your middle school science fair projects. Think of an experiment that could be done based on the hypothesis. Remember to keep it simple. Be sure to record the results and draw up a conclusion.

When children pick a topic that interests them, middle school science fair projects are fun to perform. When all the work is over, you can walk through the fair and admire your child's display. If your child follows the right procedure and enjoys the project, chances are high that the project will earn him or her a blue ribbon.

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