Elementary Science Fair Projects

Decorating tri-fold boards…. Long research papers with bibliographies… Papier mache volcanoes erupting with vinegar and baking soda lava…this is what most of us remember about science in elementary school… the science fair!

Science fairs began in the United States in the 1940s and 50s. Big scientific discoveries were making headlines.

This science fair project helps students measure their estimation skills. Students recognize when something is really big or really small, but being able to provide an estimation of size is a skill all students need.

Outlined in this project is the purpose and hypothesis to help... Read More

Plants need their green leaves to convert sunlight into energy to grow and live. In this science fair project students observe what happens to those green leaves when they do not receive sunlight. Students know plants and people are different, this project gives them an opportunity to explore... Read More

Water doesn’t disappear, it changes phase and evaporates! In this science fair project students observe the effect of the sun on evaporation. Students recognize that puddles don’t last forever, satisfy their curiosity about what might cause them to evaporate faster or... Read More

This science fair project highlights weathering, the breaking down of rock, by moving water. Students might find it hard to believe that something as simple as water is capable of breaking down such a durable material as rock. By doing it themselves they’ll see just how easy it is!... Read More

The polio vaccine was on its way to eradicating a much feared disease. The space race was on, and the USSR had launched Sputnik. America was looking for great minds in science and engineering to propel us into the future. These first science fairs served to identify gifted high school students and provide scholarship money, enabling winners to pursue higher education in science, mathematics, or engineering. National and international science fairs continue this tradition today.

In addition to the larger science fairs, regional and school science fairs have become a tradition in many communities. But for many students — and their parents — science fairs can be overwhelming. Thinking of an idea, gathering materials, allowing enough time to do a long-term experiment, finding a clear format for presenting findings, many steps and a lot of organization are involved in preparing an entry. Without a clear understanding of the scientific process, students can be unsure of how to conduct their research. Sometimes these science fair experiments are the only hands-on science students will do in the school year. As a result, the science fair project can become more the parents’ project than the students’, which causes frustration for both parents and students. These projects often turn students off of science completely.

On the other hand, science fairs can provide some great opportunities for student learning. When students are familiar with the scientific process and experiments that continue over time, when students have experience with research online and through books, when students are allowed to choose a subject they are excited to learn more about, they can become very invested in what they are learning. Then, their work experimenting, researching, gathering data, and presenting findings can become a positive learning experience they will never forget.

So how can teachers and parents help students have a successful science fair experience? Teachers can make sure that students are familiar with the scientific method. If hands-on classroom activities follow the structure that students will need to follow for the science fair, the process will not be overwhelming or intimidating. Parents and teachers can help students choose a project that is at an appropriate level and help students plan how to explore their idea, collect data and present their results. At a science fair, students can have a new kind of learning experience with science at its center. That experience might just change their life!

Read on to find some fun science fair ideas that are linked to Science4Us curriculum.