Who can you talk to for ideas and helpful hints ?
Many Monte Vista Students have done well in the past. Talk to them.
Many parents are full of good ideas and expert help.
Newspapers, magazines and other news sources are helpful in showing what is happening in the world around you. They are great sources for ideas.
What kind of hobbies do you have? Hobbies are full of great science fair ideas. What can you do to improve your competition skills? Are graphite fishing rods really better?
What things are you interested in. Activities such as music are sources for some great projects. Is there a correlation between life style and musical taste? Is there a mathematical basis for music? What affects tone quality? Or
What sports are you interested in? What can you do to be a better high jumper, hurdler, or sprinter ?
Do your pets do anything that interest you? Many projects can be designed to discover information about habits diet, or health.
Has a personal experience generated any interest in some area that you can study?
If you like math there are many possible projects that are interesting.
The first thing you should do is develop a good question. Something you really want an answer to.
Like… What bugs are in the nearby river? Or How sharp should your ice skates be?
Then you find out everything you can about that subject.
The library is a great place to start. The staff in the library is trained to help you in all kinds of areas
Computer searches can be good. Especially if you live a long way from the source of information you need. But… Be careful there is a lot of bad information out there.
Professionals in the community are a great source of help and can provide most of your much needed help.
Then develop a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a possible answer to your question. What you think the correct answer is.
Like Lunar phases do affect the time of day fish feed.
Now you need to design an experiment to test your answer. Your experiment is the most vital part of your project.
You will need to make observations… that will support or contradict your hypothesis.
These observations must be recorded and organized. You will be expected to account for every part of your experiment.
Remember, observations mean very little unless they are compared … to a control. An experiment is only as good as the controls that are used for comparisons.
If you have not made good comparisons against known quantities then you really have no idea how much change has actually taken place.
A common mistake is that people don’t make enough observations… because the test group is too small. The more individual tests you make the more accurate your results will be.
Always make sure to record everything you see Keeping an eye out for the unexpected.
Compare your data with what other people have come up with.
Always evaluate what you are doing. Did you use accurate techniques? Did you have good controls? Was your test population large enough? Are your records clear and easy to read? How many variables did you have? Did you account for the unexpected?
When you complete your experiment you need to decide what the answer to your problem is. Was your hypothesis correct? If it was wrong, how would you change it?
Hopefully you kept accurate records of your journey.
Remember, the judges will be looking for your records. All your records, data analysis, and conclusions should be available and easy to read.
Now it is up to the judges to determine how well you did… and there are some things you can do to assure an award winning year.
You need to develop a display that will tell the story of what you did.
This display must be sturdy and self supporting. It needs to be attractive and easy to read.
Here is a good pattern to follow when you are designing your display.
Models can be helpful but be careful they do not overwhelm the rest of the display.
Pictures are an excellent way of providing information and showing changes.
Information can also be displayed in the form of graphs.
This display is well organized, attractive and very informative.
This display uses some art to attract people, but notice all the essential parts are present.
The project title should be well displayed in a prominent place.
Your display is only part of the presentation. You will be expected to explain your findings to a group of judges.
It would be helpful to practice presenting your understanding of your experimentation. Be careful that you don’t plan a speech. That will turn off the judges. But it is good to organize your ideas and… Practice, practice, practice, practice.
Remember the judge’s job is to figure out how much you know. So be ready for some really hard questions.
Look them in the eyes. Shake their hands and introduce yourself.
Look professional and be confident in your abilities.
Remember, the judges are probably experts in your project subject. Don’t try to make up the data. The judges will know the difference.
Science fair competition is not easy. It is full of hard work, and high expectations. tense moments…
You can take the science fair experience all the way to an International adventure.