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What Makes a Good Project?

As kids and parents think about Science Fair projects, they sometimes wonder how to pick a topic - not how to find an idea, but how to decide if the idea is a good one.

Here are some more thoughts:

1. You are interested in the topic - it's something you like to think about.

2. You can do a test to find an answer to a question.

A good Science Fair project is an experiment - that means it's a test to find an answer to a question you have. For example, if you are interested in bugs and you saw some ants moving real slowly once on a cold day, you might test to see what effect temperature has on the rate at which bugs move. You'd get some bugs, find a way to make their container a little colder than normal and measure how fast they moved somehow. Then you'd make their container a little warmer than normal and measure what happened then.

Don't do demonstrations or simple reports - those don't use the scientific method. They are just showing what you know about something. For example, a diagram or model of something with no test/experiment.

3. You can do it with only a little help from parents, teachers and friends.

The reason to do a project is because it's fun and you will learn something you didn't know before. Having someone else help too much takes away some of your fun and you don't learn as much. Your project doesn't have to be perfect, just neat and following the scientific method. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you really need it.

4. It doesn't hurt or scare people or animals, including you.

It's not only a bad idea, it is also against the rules of our science fair and of the regional science fair to hurt or badly scare people or animals as part of an experiment. You also may 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 and teacher.

5. It's a project that, even when you are done with it, makes you think of new things you want to know.

One way to tell if you have a good project is to see if the results make you wonder about other things. Did doing the project, or reading or seeing what happened make you think of other questions you are curious about? That's a great project!


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