1. Submit your project idea to Ms. Moore. You need to have verbal or emailed/texted confirmation that your topic is acceptable for our science fair. The basic guidelines are that you must be conducting an experiment with one variable. You may not conduct tests that harm vertebrate animals, including humans, or have the potential to be destructive in a way that your parents wouldn't approve.
2. Find a place to keep your written project information. Before setting up your experiment you need to write down a few things:
- The question you are trying to answer. Remember, if you already know the answer, choose a different topic. Science is about finding out things we didn't know before and then trying to find an explanation. Example: The question I'm trying to answer is "What is the effect of major brands of detergent on chocolate stains?"
- Your hypothesis. What do you think will happen? Example: If Tide is the strongest detergent, then there will be the least amount of chocolate stain remaining.
- A plan. If you're using a plan from the internet, print it out or write down a set of procedures that you're going to follow. If you make changes to the procedures as you work, revise your written plan. More on the plan in the 'Set up your experiment' section below.
- A data table. You are required to do an experiment that results in measuring something. Before you test any factors you need to have a place where you will write down the measurements.
4. Gather your materials.
5. Set up your experiment.
- You must conduct multiple trials. Scientists who are paid to do science conduct thousands of trials! Choose a number bigger than 3 that makes sense for your materials. Make sure you know what your independent variable is...it's the ONE thing you'll change each time you do your experiment. Example: I put chocolate stains in 10 different places on a cotton T-shirt. I wash that T-shirt in Tide detergent. Then I put chocolate stains in 10 different places on another cotton T-shirt and wash that one in Wisk detergent. I could use a third shirt with new stains an another brand of detergent. Then I would have 10 trials for each detergent.
- Constants are the factors that must stay the same. Example: Every time I wash a new T-shirt with a different detergent, I need to make sure I'm using the same temperature water, the same brand of chocolate, same amount of chocolate, same amount of detergent, same length of washing.
- MEASURE THE OUTCOME and write down the results in your data table. If you don't measure what happened in your experiment, what's the point? You need to have numbers to back up your conclusion. Example: On a scale of 0-10 (0=no stain, 10=stain didn't change), the Tide removed the chocolate stains so they were all between 2 and 3, Wisk resulted in stains that were between 4 and 6, and the generic brand resulted in stains that were 7-8.
7. Write a conclusion. More on this as we get closer to the fair.