Making A Project

Guidelines for the Science Fair Project Log
Project Planning Sheet
Research Log
Sample Timeline For Projects Going to Fairs
Tips for Science Projects

Your Project

The Display

  • The display communicates the essential parts of the project in a quick, visual way. The display should be sturdy, free standing, colorful, simply illustrated, well labeled, and attractive.  The display should NOT be an exact repeat of your report – it should be an overview.  Judges can read the report if they want more details.
  • The title and section headings on the backboard should be computer-generated and clearly visible and readable from a distance of three to four feet. Titles should be at least 3” high, subtitles at least 2” high and text should be in a boldface font of at least 18 points. Use complementary colors as background and bright or dark letters for the titles of each section. Cut paper strips and frame and/or mount the title of each section.
  • Enlarge graphs and use color for the different lines or bars. Use photographs that are clear and sharp, with the correct exposure. An 8 x 10 in color photo creates a better display. There should be an explanation under each photo and/or graph. Pictures of the student taking data give added interest and provide proof that they did the project. Procedures may be shown in a series of 4 x 6 in photos, with captions to illustrate your methods.
  • Set the entire display board flat on the floor and arrange the various parts before beginning the final assembly. Be certain all titles, graphs, photos, and text are lined up properly and in place before gluing them down. Make sure the edges of the paper are glued down securely with glue sticks to the backing to prevent peeling or drooping later. All this attention to detail will result in a display board that is attractive, easy to read and as neat as possible.
  • Maximum exhibit size is 32 inches wide by 15 inches feet deep by 6-1/2 feet tall. The exhibit, including the display board, must be able to be placed on the designated table space, and all materials must fit within that space. Oversized exhibits will not be eligible to be judged for awards, and may not be able to be displayed. Other material and equipment may be brought during the student interview and then removed.
Display Sections:  
Title School & student names on back of display
Materials & Methods
Results (data tables, graphs, photos)
Conclusion (optional)
Formal Report

Acknowledgements (on table only)
3-D model

Microsoft Word – Great science projects search for causation.doc

Great Science Projects Search for Causation, Not Just Correlation

Source: Dr. Shanti Rao, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

When in doubt,

Think about data and outliers. Plot your data differently. Change your approach. Try to disprove yourself. Predict something you haven’t already tested. So what?

Act I, Hypothesis

  • Hypothesis: A model for explanation of a phenomena/observation
  • Hypothesis is the organizing principle
  • Properties
    • Testable: Usually formulated quantitatively
    • Simple: Occam’s Razor
    • Scope: Applies more than once
    • Predictive: Can make predictions
    • Conservatism: Fits with set of current observations

Act II, Experiment or Investigation

• Observations are made of the system or situation under study.

Act III, Results/Analysis

  • Observations are compared with predictions made by the hypothesis.
  • Results are analyzed for
    • Uncertainty
    • Uncontrolled factors
  • If the predictions of the hypothesis agree with observation, then with the weight of accumulation the hypothesis becomes the explanation.
  • If the predictions don’t agree, the hypothesis is disproved.

“No amount of experimentation can prove me right, but one can prove me wrong.” A. Einstein

Proposal for Research

Created by Anne F. Maben, Science Consultant, UCLA Science Project  2016

Answer the following questions with as much information as possible.  Neatly type seven to ten paragraphs stating what your project is going to be about and briefly how you plan to conduct your experiment.

  • State the primary objectives of your research.  Begin with the problem statement.  Be complete and specific.
  • Include a rationale and justification ‑‑‑ a personal statement of why this problem is of interest (the “SO WHAT?” factor). State whether or not you have conducted a search of the literature.  Cite relevant materials you have found, if any.  If using vertebrates as test subjects, justify their use and explain the humane manner in which they will be treated.  No vertebrates may be sacrificed for the sake of research.  Note: You will have to complete a special form for science fairs if you plan to use vertebrate or human test subjects.
  • State the general procedures you plan to follow.  Be as specific as possible, yet recognize that changes are likely to occur.  Include the length of time the experiment or field research will run.
  • List the materials/equipment you expect to need. Estimate the cost, if any, of materials.
  • Where will the experiment take place? What special facilities will be necessary? What are the space requirements? What special conditions (natural gas? electricity? light or temperature controls?) are needed?  Have you received permission to work in the area?
  • If performing your research at a site other than school or home, state how you expect to travel to your research site.  Will a parent or guardian be driving and have they agreed to transport you as necessary?
  • State what type of results you expect to get.

Due date:  _______________________________________________

Tips on Writing a Project Abstract from Intel ISEF

A project abstract is a brief paragraph or two (limited to 250 words or 1,800 characters) highlighting and/or summarizing the major points or most important ideas about your project. An abstract allows judges to quickly determine the nature and scope of a project.

The abstract should include the following:

a) purpose/hypothesis of the experiment

b) procedure

c) data summary/analysis

d) conclusions

  • Focus only on the current year’s research.
  • Leave out details and discussions.
  • Use the past tense when describing what was done. However, where appropriate, use “active” verbs rather than passive verbs.
  • Use short sentences, but vary your sentence structure.
  • Use complete sentences. Don’t abbreviate by omitting articles or other small words in order to save space.
  • Avoid slang and use appropriate scientific language.
  • Use proper syntax, correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.


  • Focus on what you did, not on the work of your mentor or of a laboratory in which you did your work.
  • Do NOT include acknowledgements, self-promotion or personal references. Don’t name the research institution and/or mentor with which you were working and avoid mentioning awards or honors (including achieving a patent) in the body of the abstract.
  • Be sure to emphasize the current year’s research. A continuation project should only make a brief mention of previous years’ research (no more than a sentence or two)

ExD Inquiry Resources

Planning Report Writing

Dealing With Data – Statistics