A Guide to Science Fairs. It’s Due When?!? A Practical Remedy for the Annual Science Fair Panic Attack B.K. Hixson © 2001. National Content Standards. (Grades K-4) Ask a question about objects, organisms, and events in the environment. Plan and conduct a simple investigation.
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A Guide to Science Fairs
It’s Due When?!?
A Practical Remedy for the
Annual Science Fair Panic Attack
B.K. Hixson © 2001
Take a familiar experiment and change one of the variables. Make a prediction, or hypothesis, about what you think the outcome of the experiment with the new variable will most likely be.
2.Gather Background Information
Read about your topic. Define words particular to your idea, explain concepts that relate, and provide some historical perspective by either charting and explaining the development of the idea or chronicling the accomplishments of preceding scientists.
3.Design an Experiment
List the materials needed, consider safety needs, create a lab procedure, generate data tables. Seek adult approval prior to experimentation.
4.Perform the Experiment
Repeat the experiment at least twice, and if possible, three times.
5.Collect and Record Experimental Data
Record data, take pictures, make drawings, and construct graphs to explain and interpret information.
6.Present Your Findings
Present findings through written and oral presentation. Provide a display.
Check the hypothesis by asking two simple questions:
Sometimes it doesn’t take very much to
give you a really great, new idea.
Review the following sequence of letters. Cross out six letters so that the remaining letters, keeping the sequence exactly the same, spell a very common word.
B S A I N X L E A T N T E A R S
Answer: Sometimes it helps to take things literally. If you cross out six letters the way it is spelled, rather than six letters, one through six, your answer is quite obvious.
B S A I N X L E A T N T E A R S
1.I like to study things that are:
___a. in a lab (go to #2)
___b. outdoors (go to #3)
___c. living (go to #4)
2. Physical Science, my interests include:
___a. mixing chemicals
___b. building electrical things
___c. rockets, planes, balloons, flight
___d. magnets, magnetic fields
___e. thermometers, heating and cooling stuff
___f. light, colors, filters, illusions
___g. sound, pitch, vibrations
___h. electronics widgets
3. Earth Science, my interests include:
___a. rocks, minerals, fossils, soil
___b. oceans and associated life
___c. stars, planets, space
___d. weather, forecasting, tornadoes
4. Life Science, my interests include:
___a. growing and experimenting with plants
___b. animals and their characteristics
___c. the human body and how it works
___d. microbes, fungi, mold, gooey stuff
___e. ecosystems: forests, swamps, savannas
This introductory lab is great because it gives you opportunities to expand the original idea.
Take a long, skinny piece of paper and fold it into an accordion shape. The bottom fold is wetted and then removed from the water. The whole accordion is lowered toward the water, wet end first. Watch very closely. As the paper nears the water, a very interesting phenomenon occurs.
1 sheet of paper
1 pair of scissors
1 cup of water
1.Cut a strip of paper from the edge of the sheet. It should be about 1 inch wide and 11 inches long.
2. Fold the paper into an accordion shape. The folds should be about an inch apart with the last fold sticking straight down.
3. Lower the last fold to the surface of the water and get it wet. Remove the accordion from the water.
4. Now, a second time, very slowly lower it to the surface again. Do not put it all the way in the water! As you get closer and closer, you will notice a very interesting and unexpected response.
Water molecules are naturally attracted to each other. As you can see, they have a positive end and a negative end, like a magnet.
When the end of the paper is dipped into the water, the water molecules all line up inside the paper. As the paper is lowered to the surface of the water, the water feels the pull of the water molecules in the paper. When the paper gets close enough, the water molecules in the cup tug on the water molecules in the paper magnetically and pull them down into the water to be with their other water molecules.
-using a different liquid
-changing the liquid temperature
-changing the material
-changing the shape of the paper
1.Smoker’s poll among teenagers
NOT a hypothesis! Kids do not isolate a single variable or make a prediction.
2.I predict that the length of a metal rod directly affects the pitch it produces when it is vibrated.
Hypothesis! The student makes a statement and provides a concrete way to measure and evaluate that statement.
3.The mighty Grand Canyon
NOT a hypothesis! This is a science report because the student is not participating in the program.
4.I predict that the humidity in a closed room, measured as percent water vapor, has no effect on the effectiveness of a Van de Graaff generator’s ability to produce static electric sparks.
Hypothesis! A prediction is made and a way to measure that prediction is laid out in very clear terms.
-contemporary print resources (magazines, newspapers, journals)
-other print resources (books, encyclopedias)
-celluloid resources (films, videos, filmstrips)
-electronic resources (internet, DVDs)
-human resources (scientists, engineers, teachers)
-major scientific concepts
A very successful and wealthy businessman was nearing the end of his life on Earth and wanted desperately to take some of his considerable wealth with him.
He knelt down and began praying to the Lord who, surprising the man greatly, appeared beside him. The Lord said, “You have done very well with the gifts that I have given you; you have looked out for those who were less fortunate than yourself. What can I do for you my son?”
The man replied, “I know that I am near the end of my days here on Earth. You know that I began life as a very poor child and worked diligently to earn great wealth. The thought of going to Heaven and not having a thing to take with me is almost more than I can bear. Please, I know that everyone says that you can’t take it with you but could you make an exception in my case?”
The Lord looked deep into the man’s eyes and replied, “I will make an exception just this once. You can have just one suitcase.” He touched the man gently on the head and then vanished.
Overjoyed, the man set about to purchase the largest suitcase that he could find and filled it with gold bars. Almost as soon as he was done packing an angel appeared and said, “It is time to go,” and escorted the man to the Pearly Gates where he and his suitcase got into a long line.
When he finally got to the front of the line, Saint Peter looked down and said, “I am sorry sir, but we don’t allow you to bring anything with you.” The man assured him that the Lord himself had given him permission, so Peter agreed as long as the man would allow him to see what was in the suitcase.
With a large smile the man unzipped the bag and showed Peter the bars of gold. Upon seeing the contents, Peter started laughing uncontrollably. He summoned Gabriel, Moses, and several others who were nearby and they too started laughing.
Finally, the man couldn’t stand it any longer and demanded to know what was so funny. With tears in his eyes, Peter took a deep breath and said, “You could have brought anything you wanted and you packed pavement!”
If only he had done his homework.
A.Type of Media (circle one)
Magazine Newspaper Journal Encyclopedia
Textbook Dictionary Book
C.Title of Article/Chapter:___________
E.ISBN (books only):______________
G.Volume #___Pages Referenced____
H.Synopsis of Ideas:_______________
I.Print Resource Synopsis, page__of__.
A. Type of Media (circle one)
Internet CD/Video DVD MP3
C. Title of CD/DVD, etc:______________
E. Internet address:_________________
F. Year Produced:____Volume #:_______
G. Synopsis of Ideas:_________________
H. Electronic Resource Synopsis, page__of__.
A. Type of Professional (circle one)
Scientist Engineer Professor Doctor
Teacher Librarian Other
F.Years in Field:____Degree:_________
H. Synopsis of Ideas:_________________
I. Human Resource Synopsis, page__of__.
When gathering information, pay special attention to the following:
Research and explain the main idea(s) that is/are driving the experiment. It may be a physics law or a chemical rule. Provide a historical perspective withnames, dates, countries, etc.
Define scientific words used in the paper either in the margins or in a glossary.
In the mid 60s, F.B.I. Director Hoover was reviewing a typed letter he had just dictated to his secretary. He didn’t like the format she had used, thinking it was messy, so he scribbled, “Watch the borders” on the bottom of it and asked her to retype it and send it out immediately.
She did exactly as she was instructed and sent the letter out to all the top agents in the field. For the next two weeks agents were put on special alert along the Mexican and Canadian borders.
When you outline your experiment, do your best to avoid ambiguity.
Determine the Boiling Point of Compound X1
When the British were designing their high-speed train, they became concerned about the consequence of accidentally hitting a bird at 180 m.p.h. as the train zipped down the track.
After quite a bit of discussion and some research, they discovered that the American space program, NASA, had designed a cannon that fired chickens at the windshield of the Space Shuttle to test effectiveness for the very same occurrence.
The British borrowed the cannon and were quite excited to try it out on the newly designed, state-of-the-art windshields they intended to use on the new, high-speed trains. They loaded the gun and fired the first chicken at the windshield, only to watch in complete horror as the chicken not only shattered the windshield, but also destroyed the conductor’s chair and imbedded itself in the back wall of the cabin.
Needless to say they immediately sent all the data back to NASA and asked them for any advice to help with their dilemma. The Americans evaluated the data and quickly replied with three words:
“Thaw the chicken.”
As you begin to experiment, double check your procedure and make any necessary adjustments.
Line and Bar Graphs
Growth of mutant tomato plants
Pie Lover’s Graph