"Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world." Louis Pasteur

  • February 04, 2017, Erbil
    February 04, 2017, Erbil

How Can We Prepare Project?

The Scientific Method:
Enjoying simple science projects and experiments is a great way for children to learn about science in a fun, interactive way. When you want to take things a step further and develop an idea into a full science fair project there are a number of things to keep in mind that will help ensure your project follows a process called the Scientific Method. The Scientific Method helps scientists create credible investigations that feature well supported evidence. Check out the following steps that will help you create great science fair projects of your own.



Steps of the Scientific Method

1. Ask a Question:

The scientific method starts when you ask a question about something that you observe: How, What, When, Who, Which, Why, or Where?
And, in order for the scientific method to answer the question it must be about something that you can measure, preferably with a number.

1.1 Finding an Idea for Your Science Fair Project

One of the most important considerations in picking a topic for your science fair project is to find a subject that you consider interesting. You’ll be spending a lot of time on it, so you don’t want your science fair project to be about something that is boring. We know that finding a topic is the hardest part of a science fair project, and sometimes you just need a little help focusing on what sorts of topics would be of interest to you. By answering a series of questions about everyday interests and activities, you will help us identify an area of science that is best for you.

1.2 Your Science Fair Project Question

The question that you select for your science fair project is the cornerstone of your work. The research and experiment you will be conducting all revolve around finding an answer to the question you are posing. It is important to select a question that is going to be interesting to work on for at least a month or two and a question that is specific enough to allow you to find the answer with a simple experiment. A scientific question usually starts with: How, What, When, Who, Which, Why, or Where. Here are some characteristics of a good science fair project question:

* The question should be interesting enough to read about, then work on for the next couple months.

* There should be at least 3 sources of written information on the subject. You want to be able to build on the experience of others!
Now, for something like a science fair project, it is important to think ahead. This will save you lots of unhappiness later. Imagine the experiment you might perform to answer your question. How does that possible experiment stack up against these issues?

* The experiment should measure changes to the important factors (variables) using a number that represents a quantity such as a count, percentage, length, width, weight, voltage, velocity, energy, time, etc. Or, just as good might be an experiment that measures a factor (variable) that is simply present or not present. For example, lights ON in one trial, then lights OFF in another trial, or USE fertilizer in one trial, then DON’T USE fertilizer in another trial. If you can’t measure the results of your experiment, you’re not doing science!

* You must be able to control other factors that might influence your experiment, so that you can do a fair test. A “fair test” occurs when you change only one factor (variable) and keep all other conditions the same.

* Is your experiment safe to perform?

* Do you have all the materials and equipment you need for your science fair project, or will you be able to obtain them quickly and at a very low cost?

* Do you have enough time to do your experiment before the science fair? For example, most plants take weeks to grow. If you want to do a project on plants, you need to start very early! For most experiments you will want to allow enough time to do a practice run in order to work out any problems in your procedures.

* Does your science fair project meet all the rules and requirements for your science fair?

* Have you avoided the bad science fair projects listed in the table below?

If you don’t have good answers for the above issues, then you probably should look for a better science fair project question to answer.
Some science fair projects that involve human subjects, vertebrate animals (animals with a backbone) or animal tissue, pathogenic agents, DNA, or controlled or hazardous substances, need SRC (Scientific Review Committee) approval from your science fair BEFORE you start experimentation. Now is the time to start thinking about getting approval if necessary for your science project.

1.3- Examples

These are examples of good science fair project questions:

* How does water purity affect surface tension?

* When is the best time to plant soy beans?

* Which material is the best insulator?

* How does arch curvature affect load carrying strength?

* How do different foundations stand up to earthquakes?

* What sugars do yeast use?

These are examples of bad science fair project topics that you should avoid:

FPO Project Guide_Layout 1

2. Do Background Research:

Rather than starting from scratch in putting together a plan for answering your question, you want to be a savvy scientist using library and Internet research to help you find the best way to do things and insure that you don’t repeat mistakes from the past.

2.1 Background research plan

Background research is necessary so that you know how to design and understand your experiment. To make a background research plan — a roadmap of the research questions you need to answer -follow these steps:
1. Identify the keywords in the question for your science fair project. Brainstorm additional keywords and concepts.
2. Use a table with the “question words” (why, how, who, what, when, where) to generate research questions from your keywords. For example:
What is the difference between a series and parallel circuit?
When does a plant grow the most, during the day or night?
Where is the focal point of a lens?
How does a java applet work?
Does a truss make a bridge stronger?
Why are moths attracted to light?
Which cleaning products kill the most bacteria?
Throw out irrelevant questions.
3. Add to your background research plan a list of mathematical formulas or equations (if any) that you will need to describe the results of your experiment.
4. You should also plan to do background research on the history of similar experiments or inventions.
5. Network with other people with more experience than yourself: your mentors, parents, and teachers. Ask them: “What science concepts should I study to better understand my science fair project?” and “What area of science covers my project?” Better yet, ask even more specific questions.

2.2 Finding information

• Most teachers will require you to find at least three sources of information.
• How to find information:
• Find and read the general information contained in an encyclopedia, dictionary, or textbook for each of your keywords.
• Use the bibliographies and sources in everything you read to find additional sources of information.
• Search periodical indexes at your local library.
• Search the Internet to get information from an organization, society or online database.
• Broaden your search by adding words to your search phrases in search engines. Narrow your search by subtracting words from or simplifying your search phrases.
• When you find information, evaluate if it is good information:

2.3 Bibliography

• Make a list to keep track of ALL the books, magazines, and websites you read as you follow your background research plan. Later this list of sources will become your bibliography.
• Most teachers want you to have at least three written sources of information.
• Write down, photocopy, or print the following information for each source you find.

Collect this information for each printed source:

• author name
• title of the publication (and the title of the article if it’s a magazine or encyclopedia)
• date of publication
• the place of publication of a book
• the publishing company of a book
• the volume number of a magazine or printed encyclopedia
• the page number(s)
Collect this information for each Web Site:

• author and editor names (if available)
• title of the page (if available)
• the company or organization who posted the webpage
• the Web address for the page (called a URL)
• the last date you looked at the page
• The bibliographic information for different types of resources are located in different places, so you may need to do some detective work to get all of the information for your bibliography. Try looking in these places:
• the title page of a book, encyclopedia or dictionary
• the heading of an article
• the front, second, or editorial page of the newspaper
• the contents page of a journal or magazine
• the header (at the top) or footer (at the bottom) of a Web site
• the About or the Contact page of a Web site
• When it is time to turn in your Bibliography, type all of your sources into a list.
• List the sources in alphabetical order using the author’s last name. If a source has more than one author, alphabetize using the first one. If an author is unknown, alphabetize that source using the title instead.

2.4 Writing a Research Paper for Your Science Fair Project

• The purpose of your research paper is to give you the information to understand why your experiment turns out the way it does. The research paper should include:
• The history of similar experiments or inventions
• Definitions of all important words and concepts that describe your experiment
• Answers to all your background research plan questions
• Mathematical formulas, if any, that you will need to describe the results of your experiment
• For every fact or picture in your research paper you should follow it with a citation telling the reader where you found the information. A citation is just the name of the author and the date of the publication placed in parentheses like this: (Author, date). This is called a reference citation when using APA format and parenthetical reference when using the MLA format. Its purpose is to document a source briefly, clearly, and accurately.
• If you copy text from one of your sources, then place it in quotation marks in addition to following it with a citation. Be sure you understand and avoid plagiarism! Do not copy another person’s work and call it your own. Always give credit where credit is due!
• Most teachers want a research paper to have these sections, in order:
• Title page (with the title of your project, your name, and the date)
• Your report
• Bibliography
• Check with your teacher for additional requirements such as page numbers and a table of contents

3. Construct a Hypothesis:

• A hypothesis is an educated guess about how things work.
• Most of the time a hypothesis is written like this: “”If[I do this], then [this] will happen.” (Fill in the blanks with the appropriate information from your own experiment.)
• Your hypothesis should be something that you can actually test, what’s called a testable hypothesis. In other words, you need to be able to measure both “what you do” and “what will happen.”

4. Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment:

Your experiment tests whether your hypothesis is true or false. It is important for your experiment to be a fair test. You conduct a fair test by making sure that you change only one factor at a time while keeping all other conditions the same.
You should also repeat your experiments several times to make sure that the first results weren’t just an accident.

4.1. Experimental procedure

• Write the experimental procedure like a step-by-step recipe for your science experiment. A good procedure is so detailed and complete that it lets someone else duplicate your experiment exactly!
• Repeating a science experiment is an important step to verify that your results are consistent and not just an accident.
• For a typical experiment, you should plan to repeat it at least three times (more is better).
• If you are doing something like growing plants, then you should do the experiment on at least three plants in separate pots (that’s the same as doing the experiment three times).
• If you are doing an experiment that involves testing or surveying different groups, you won’t need to repeat the experiment three times, but you will need to test or survey a sufficient number of participants to insure that your results are reliable. You will almost always need many more than three participants!

4.2. Material list

What type of supplies and equipment will you need to complete your science fair project? By making a complete list ahead of time, you can make sure that you have everything on hand when you need it. Some items may take time to obtain, so making a materials list in advance represents good planning!
Make the materials list as specific as possible, and be sure you can get everything you need before you start your science fair project.

4.3. Conducting a Science Experiment

• If you haven’t already, obtain a notebook to record all of your observations during your experiment.
• Before starting your experiment, prepare a data table so you can quickly write down your measurements as you observe them.
• Follow your experimental procedure exactly. If you need to make changes in the procedure (which often happens), write down the changes exactly as you made them.
• Be consistent, careful, and accurate when you take your measurements. Numerical measurements are best.
• Take pictures of your experiment for use on your display board if you can.

5. Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion:

Once your experiment is complete, you collect your measurements and analyze them to see if your hypothesis is true or false. Scientists often find that their hypothesis was false, and in such cases they will construct a new hypothesis starting the entire process of the scientific
method over again. Even if they find that their hypothesis was true, they may want to test it again in a new way.

5.1. Data Analysis & Graphs

• Review your data. Try to look at the results of your experiment with a critical eye. Ask yourself these questions:
• Is it complete, or did you forget something?
• Do you need to collect more data?
• Did you make any mistakes?
• Calculate an average for the different trials of your experiment, if appropriate.
• Make sure to clearly label all tables and graphs. And, include the units of measurement (volts, inches, grams, etc.).
• Place your independent variable on the x-axis of your graph and the dependent variable on the y-axis.

5.2. Conclusions

Your conclusions summarize how your results support or contradict your original hypothesis:
• Summarize your science fair project results in a few sentences and use this summary to support your conclusion. Include key facts from your background research to help explain your results as needed.
• State whether your results support or contradict your hypothesis. (Engineering & programming projects should state whether they met their design criteria.)
• If appropriate, state the relationship between the independent and dependent variable.
• Summarize and evaluate your experimental procedure, making comments about its success and effectiveness.
• Suggest changes in the experimental procedure (or design) and/or possibilities for further study.

6. Communicate Your Results:

To complete your science fair project you will communicate your results to others in a final report and/or a display board. Professional scientists do almost exactly the same thing by publishing their final report in a scientific journal or by presenting their results on a poster at a scientific meeting.

6.1. Final report

At this point, you are in the home stretch. Except for writing the abstract, preparing your science fair project final report will just entail pulling together the information you have already collected into one large document.
• Your final report will include these sections:
• Title page.
• Abstract. An abstract is an abbreviated version of your final report.
• Table of contents.
• Question, variables, and hypothesis.
• Background research. This is the Research paper you wrote before you started your experiment.
• Materials list.
• Experimental procedure.
• Data analysis and discussion. This section is a summary of what you found out in your experiment, focusing on your observations, data table, and graph(s), which should be included at this location in the report.
• Conclusions.
• Ideas for future research. Some science fairs want you to discuss what additional research you might want to do based on what you learned.
• Acknowledgements. This is your opportunity to thank anyone who helped you with your science fair project, from a single individual to a company or government agency.
• Bibliography.
• Write the abstract section last, even though it will be one of the first sections of your final report.
• Your final report will be several pages long, but don’t be overwhelmed! Most of the sections are made up of information that you have already written. Gather up the information for each section and type it in a word processor if you haven’t already.
• Save your document often! You do not want to work hard getting something written the perfect way, only to have your computer crash and the information lost. Frequent file saving could save you a lot of trouble!
• Remember to do a spelling and grammar check in your word processor. Also, have a few people proof read your final report. They may have some helpful comments!

6.2. Abstract

An abstract is an abbreviated version of your science fair project final report. For most science fairs it is limited to a maximum of 250 words (check the rules for your competition). The science fair project abstract appears at the beginning of the report as well as on your display board.
Almost all scientists and engineers agree that an abstract should have the following five pieces:
• Introduction. This is where you describe the purpose for doing your science fair project or invention. Why should anyone care about the work you did? You have to tell them why. Did you explain something that should cause people to change the way they go about their daily business? If you made an invention or developed a new procedure how is it better, faster, or cheaper than what is already out there? Motivate the reader to finish the abstract and read the entire paper or display board.
• Problem Statement. Identify the problem you solved or the hypothesis you investigated.
• Procedures. What was your approach for investigating the problem? Don’t go into detail about materials unless they were critical to your success. Do describe the most important variables if you have room.
• Results. What answer did you obtain? Be specific and use numbers to describe your results. Do not use vague terms like “most” or “some.”
• Conclusions. State what your science fair project or invention contributes to the area you worked in. Did you meet your objectives? For an engineering project state whether you met your design criteria.
Things to Avoid
• Avoid jargon or any technical terms that most readers won’t understand.
• Avoid abbreviations or acronyms that are not commonly understood unless you describe what they mean.
• Abstracts do not have a bibliography or citations.
• Abstracts do not contain tables or graphs.
• For most science fairs, the abstract must focus on the previous 12 months’ research (or less), and give only minimal reference to any earlier work.
• If you are working with a scientist or mentor, your abstract should only include procedures done by you, and you should not put acknowledgements to anyone in your abstract.
Why Is an Abstract Important?
Your science fair project abstract lets people quickly determine if they want to read the entire report. Consequently, at least ten times as many people will read your abstract as any other part of your work. It’s like an advertisement for what you’ve done. If you want judges and the public to be excited about your science fair project, then write an exciting, engaging abstract!
Since an abstract is so short, each section is usually only one or two sentences long. Consequently, every word is important to conveying your message. If a word is boring or vague, refer to a thesaurus and find a better one! If a word is not adding something important, cut it! But, even with the abstract’s brief length, don’t be afraid to reinforce a key point by stating it in more than one way or referring to it in more than one section.
How to Meet the Word Limit
Most authors agree that it is harder to write a short description of something than a long one. Here’s a tip: for your first draft, don’t be overly concerned about the length. Just make sure you include all the key information. Then take your draft and start crossing our words, phrases, and sentences that are less important than others. Look for places where you can combine sentences in ways that shorten the total length. Put it aside for a while, then come back and re-read your draft. With a fresh eye, you’ll probably find new places to cut. Before you know it you will have a tightly written abstract.

6.3 Display Board

• For almost every science fair project, you need to prepare a display board to communicate your work to others. In most cases you will use a standard, three-panel display board that unfolds to be 36″ tall by 48″ wide.
• Organize your information like a newspaper so that your audience can quickly follow the thread of your experiment by reading from top to bottom, then left to right. Include each step of your science fair project: Abstract, question, hypothesis, variables, background research, and so on.
• Use a font size of at least 16 points for the text on your display board, so that it is easy to read from a few feet away. It’s OK to use slightly smaller fonts for captions on picture and tables.
• The title should be big and easily read from across the room.
Choose one that accurately describes your work, but also grabs peoples’ attention.
• A picture speaks a thousand words! Use photos or draw diagrams to present non-numerical data, to propose models that explain your results, or just to show your experimental setup. But, don’t put text on top of photographs or images. It can be very difficult to read.
• Check the rules for your science fair. Here is a list of items that some science fairs allow (or even require) and some science fairs don’t require (or even prohibit):
• Your name on the display board
• Pictures of yourself
• Captions that include the source for every picture or image
• Acknowledgements of people who helped you
• Your laboratory notebook (some science fairs want you to have it only during judging)
• Equipment such as your laboratory apparatus or your invention

6.4 Science Fair Judging

• Preparing for Science Fair Judging— Practice Makes Perfect!
• If you can communicate your science fair project well, you maximize your chances of winning.
• Write up a short “speech” (about 2-5 minutes long) summarizing your science fair project. You will give this speech when you first meet the judges. (Remember to talk about the theory behind your science fair project-why your project turns out the way it does.)
• Organize a list of questions you think the judges will ask you and prepare/practice answers for them. Practice explaining your science fair project to others and pretend they are judges.
• Practice explaining your science fair project in simple terms so anyone can understand it.
• Presenting Yourself During the Science Fair Judging Period- Be Professional!
• Always dress nicely for the science fair judging period-NO JEANS!
• Make good use of your display board. Point to diagrams and graphs when you are discussing them.
• Always be positive and enthusiastic!
• Be confident with your answers; do not mumble.
• If you have no idea what the judge is asking, or do not know the answer to their question, it is okay to say “I do not know.”
• Treat each person who visits you like a judge, even nonscien- tists.
• After the science fair, always ask for feedback from the judges to improve your project.

7. How to prepare a winning presentation.

• Prepare a POSTER to give your audience a quick overview of the question you asked, the method you used, the result you got and the conclusion you came to.
• Draw charts, diagrams or illustrations to explain your question, methods and results. A neat and organized poster will obviously communicate your work better than a sloppy, disorganized one.
• Standardized cardboard display boards can be purchased, or you can make your own. Your entire display should not exceed three feet in width.
• Parents, resist the temptation to do this for your kids or im¬prove on their abilities. The judges know what a second grader’s handwriting- and reasoning- looks like. They are interested in what the student discovered, and whether the student did their best.
• Your NOTEBOOK is an important part of your presentation- it will fill in the nitty- gritty details which would be too much for your audience to take in on the poster. Make sure it is complete and the information in it is clear. Display it with your poster for those who want to know more about your project than the bare bones.
• DEMONSTRATION MATERIALS which illustrate a scientific principle, equipment or materials used, or enable others to retrace your steps “hands-on” will make an exhibit more interesting and help others understand your discovery. Such materials should be placed in front of your backdrop display. If your experiment involves animals, dangerous chemicals or valuable equipment, take photographs to illustrate your work instead. Exhibits will be left in the hall overnight and examined by many other students and their families.
• You will not want to risk damage or loss to yourself or others. Exhibit items should present no hazards to observers who may view the display.

8. Talking to Judges

An important part of your science fair project is your presentation to the judges. You may have a great project, but you need to be able to communicate its significance to the judges. Verbal communication skills are key in all walks of life, including the science fair.

8.1. Judging Criteria

The two main criteria you will be judged on for the verbal portion of your presentation are presentation quality and dynamics. The judging score sheets describe them as follows: Presentation Quality!
4 points – clear presentation, concisely summarizes the project, information is relevant and pertinent
3 or 2 points – information given is adequate, but presentation is difficult to follow
1 or 0 points – information jumbled, irrelevant; presentation unclear Dynamics:
4 points – speaks fluently with good eye contact; polite, dynamic, and interested in their project
3 or 2 points – student was polite and interested in their project, moderate eye contact, relied heavily on note cards 1 or 0 points – no eye contact, read from note cards, did not seem interested

8.2. What to say

If a judge comes up to you and asks you to explain your project, what are you going to say? A quality presentation will be clear and concise. It will explain the project in a simple way that highlights the important aspects of the project. As you begin to think of what you are going to say, think about what the objective of your presentation is and what is important to communicate.
Start with a short introduction. You may want to introduce yourself if you have not already. Briefly say what your project is about. This may only be a sentence or two. It could be something as simple as “In my project, I studied how different amounts of sunlight affect plant growth.” You could also include a brief overview of the rest of the presentation during your introduction.
The content of your presentation is the core of what you are going to say. It is the meat and potatoes entree after the introduction salad. This is where you explain your project. Focus on what is important and be to the point. Keep in mind that the judge may not know as much on the subject as you so don’t assume the judge knows a lot on the subject.
Finish with a brief conclusion. Summarize what you just said into a sentence or two. You may want to conclude with what you learned from the project or what parts of it you find especially exciting. It’s not a bad idea to include suggestions for future work. Once you are finished, ask if the judge has any questions.

8.3. When to say it

This is pretty straightforward. After your introduction, explain your project. Explain your project in a logical progression. This means start with the background info on your project. Then follow the process you went through during your project. This will probably be something like purpose, hypothesis, procedure, results, and conclusion. The key is to explain your project clearly and concisely to the judge.

8.4. How to say it

Interestingly enough, how you present your project can be more crucial than what you actually say. If you appear disinterested in your project, it will impact your dynamics and significantly detract from your score. The following is a list of tips on how to present well:

8.4.1. Speaking

1. Speak clearly, do not mumble
2. Speak loud enough to be heard but do not yell
3. Speak slow enough to be understood well
4. Speak with passion, change the tone and take pauses to emphasize certain points

8.4.2. Conduct

Make good eye contact! You do not have to stare at the judge the whole time but do not look down at your shoes or out the window when talking
1. Do not fidget or wring your hands. This is quite distracting.
2. Face the judge when speaking
3. Stand up straight. Do not hunch over or lean on the table
4. Stand to the side of your board so that you do not obstruct the judges view of it

8.4.3. Things to avoid

1. Don’t use slang or unexplained jargon
2. Don’t say filler words “like” or “you know” or “urn.” Pause for a moment if you need to collect your thoughts
3. Don’t wear too much or gaudy jewelry, no chains

8.4.4. Miscellaneous

1. Dress nicely, look sharp
2. Enjoy the presentation! Your excitement will shine through 9. Practice!
The key to a good presentation is good preparation. One of the best ways to prepare is to practice. Practice in front of a mirror or in front of a friend. Practice when you are in the shower. Practice on your way to school. Practice! Practice wherever you can until you confident in your presentation.
For details click the following links.
http://sciencefairproject.vir1ualave.net/conclusion.htm http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/

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