Be sure to check these Links to Student Pages on this website that you will need:
- Students Home Page
- Getting Started
- Project Information
- The Display Board
- On-line Registration
- Option to pay registration using PayPal
This page describes the basic elements of preparing your display board. Use this guide to help you put together your board and use it as a checklist to make sure that your completed board contains most items identified. Of course, individuality is always encouraged but the format presented below is a good guide and the judges will be looking for most of these items.
The following is specifically written for an Experiment type of project. Innovation and Study projects will have some of the same basic components, though some sections will not be appropriate.
Poster / display boards can be purchased at stores (e.g. Staples or Walmart) that are ideally suited for the science fair. Most participants use these re-useable, purchased back boards but if you wish, you can certainly make your own. Board dimensions are shown on the Project Information Page. Here is an example of a board with the sort of material that is normally included:
Title: Something that describes your project. Many students make this title into a catchy pharase to make your audience interested in your topic. For example, “The Fungus Amoung Us” for a project that studied fungi growth conditions.
Introduction, Problem Statement or Statement of Purpose: A brief statement about the project and why this project is of interest (or at least why it interested you). A very good way to end this section is in the form of a question, e.g. “I wanted to know what would happen if I did …..” or “I wanted to learn more about ….. because ….”. This should be the question that guided you in picking your project subject, helped you identify the work. At the completion of your work you may have some answers to this question but it is OK if the experiment did not answer your question, after all, this is science and there are no guarantees.
Background and/or Literature Search: This is where you put the information that you collected about your topic. Any books or articles read from the internet, journals, authorities on the topc that you talked to or outside matieral collected should be summarized in this section. This section should be written in your own words and NOT copied from your resources. The level of detail expected in this section will depend on the age group that you are competing in with more sophisticated references and interpretations for the senior group, compared to primary students.
Hypothesis or Engineering Goal: An hypothesis is what you think you will find in your work. This is your best guess to the answer to your question. You may state your hypothesis at the start of your work or it may develop as you do your background reading but it should be written BEFORE you have started your experimental work. Be sure to include why you think your best guess will be the result of your work as we want to know your thinking behind your hypothesis. Remember, sometimes your results will agree with your hypothesis and sometimes they do not. Both results are considered successful projects, so do not be too concerned if your hypothesis is proven incorrect by your own work! The purpose of the hypothesis is help keep your work focussed. [ ASIDE: For an Innovation Project, the hypothesis would be a proposal of a design or approach that you believe will solve a specific problem ]
Materials, Methods and Procedures: This is a list of all the materials and supplies used in the project. Quantities and amounts of each should also be indicated. List and describe the steps you took to complete the project. Usually this is listed in a logical sequence which shows the stages of the project. There should be sufficient detail so that another person could carry out the experiment, but be careful not to go into unnecessary details.
Data, Charts, Models, Graphs, Photographs, Drawings: In this section tell us what you measured or observed in your work. Most projects result in quantitative results that should be presented in the form of tables or graphs. Often this work shows the measurements that you have made (the dependent variable) as a function of some variable that you have controlled (the independent variable). Make these results easy to read as the judge will want to quickly understand what you have actually done in your work. If you have done repetitive tests, be sure to show all the data as the spread in results and how you handle it are important (use statistics, if appropriate).
Interpretation of Data: In this section, explain your results. This is where you can discuss possible sources of error, unexpected results and additional details of your results that were not shown in the graphs and charts.
Conclusion and Discussion: In this section, discuss what you learned with specific reference to your Question and Hypothesis statements. Put your results into context with the background work that you included in the board. Using the word “because” is a good way to turn an observation into a conclusion. The conclusion should tell whether the hypothesis was proven or not proven. If you have any thoughts or explanations as to why you got some unexpected or contradictory results, you can discuss this here.
Further Research: Identify any recommendations you may have for what you could have done differently or how you could extend your project for next year’s fair. You could also add what you know now that you didn’t know before you started your project.
Name, Grade and School: This is your work and you should be proud of it so let us know who you are. This also helps the judges know that they are judging the correct project!
Acknowledgements and Resources: Who helped you and what books or websites gave you ideas for your project? A list of book titles can be included on the table in front of your board.
Project Notebook: If you kept a logbook for your experiments, be sure to bring it to the fair and display it on the table in front of your board. This is an excellent way to show the judge what you did, your timeline and observations as you worked on the project.
Display Items: You have some space on your table to show some physical items that you used for your experiment. [For an innovation project, you may want to show the invention]. You can bring these items to the fair (be sure to follow all safety guidelines here). These items add significant interest to your project. The intent in having these items on the table is NOT so that you can run your experiment at the fair, instead, it is to give an indication of what equipment was actually used for the experiment that you are presenting.