Types of Science Fair Projects for Children

Mom and son working on science project
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Helping your child with their science fair project is a lot easier once they decide what type of project they’d like to do. There are five basic types of science projects to choose from.

1) Investigative Projects

An investigative science fair project is a popular option. It involves using the scientific method to ask a question, establish a hypothesis, and then create an experiment to test the hypothesis. For example, posing the question: “Do plants grow better when fertilizer is used?” and hypothesizing a possible answer. Then, an experiment is developed to establish the answer. You can introduce your child to the concepts of having a control group, limiting variables, measurements, and determining the significance of results. The key will be to find a question that interests your child and an appropriately easy way to test it in the amount of lead time you have. You may also need to explain that negative results also have scientific value.

2) Research Projects

A research project is basically a science report. It involves collecting information about a specific topic and presenting what you have discovered or learned. It’s typically best to start with a question for these projects as well. For example: “How does El Niño affect weather patterns?” You can discuss different information sources with your child and which are considered to be more reliable or authoritative to guide them as they gather research for their report.

Discuss the need for your child to make the presentation in their own words rather than copying what they find.

3) Demonstration Projects

This type of project shows a known scientific principle, such as the Earth's magnetism, the force of gravity, or surface tension. Often, it recreates a classic experiment that originally proved the concept. This type of project may not be advanced enough for older students.

4) Models

A model science fair project involves building a model to demonstrate a principle or concept. Ideally, what your child builds will be unique, but there are classic projects like the baking soda volcano, or the Mentos and Diet Coke volcano. The challenge here will be to come up with something your child can build that will be unique. It's a good idea to find a model to build that interests your child but isn't one that other students are building.

5) Collections

This type of project can either be very interesting or very dull, and it may not be considered to be advanced enough for older students. It consists of a collection of like items, often from natural sources, and descriptions of them. A collection of leaves can be very pretty, but not very informative. It’s important that your child’s collection presents an overview or insight into a topic. For example, looking at leaves from different neighborhoods and noting variances in appearance or growth based on the sunlight, pollution, etc., in each neighborhood involves some scientific investigation as well.

A Word From Verywell

Choosing a science fair project can help interest your child in science and technology. You will need to ensure they have selected one that can be done within the limits of time, expense, and your child's abilities.

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  3. Robinson G. National PTA. The Benefits of Doing a Science Project. March 17, 2015.