Presenting a Science Project
This article presents tips for presenting a science project. A science project can often be presented in multiple ways, and even if the project directions suggest one, you may be able to modify it if another approach is better suited to your purposes.
One way of looking at science presentations is in these three categories: published, live presentation, ongoing.
A published presentation is any type of science project presentation that is complete and requires nothing more from the student. It could be a poster, a report, a PowerPoint presentation a montage of photographs, a collage, a spreadsheet, a mural, a model,a mobile or a multimedia . When an observer who has sufficient background examines the published presentation, they can understand it without further explanation or input from the person who created it.
In live presentations prepared materials only do part of the work: the rest is done by a presenter who explains the material, provides background, extends what’s in the prepared materials. The live presentation may involve interacting with the materials (for example, showing a PowerPoint demonstration), speaking (for example, narrating the PowerPoint presentation), activating multimedia, and/or fielding questions from the audience.
Some science projects are ongoing, which means that the audience - whether the teacher or the attendees at a science fair - are invited to see the project in progress. This could either be an ongoing experiment or the stage of some project that is not an experiment. In this case, what the audience sees is not the final stage and is not in a published form. This type of presentation can also be accompanied by a live presentation.
The same project can be presented in multiple different ways. And in certain situations, such as the science fair, the presentation is a very important part of the project, so it’s something to consider even as you’re making your short list of projects you might choose. In a school situation, varying the presentation helps both to encourage the development of other skills alongside of the science learning and also helps prevent the student and teacher from being bored by the tedious repetition of only doing lab reports or posters or charts over and over.
Static vs. Interactive
One of the elements that can contribute a great deal to making a science project compelling is an interactive component. Providing a situation in which your audience can make choices about what they see, ask questions, change outcomes, push buttons, etc., invites them to become invested in the presentation.
One tip for presentation is not to treat it as an afterthought. Planning time for creating the presentation as you plan for the entire science project, not acting as if the science is the important part and the presentation is less important, will help form a context in which a quality presentation can be developed. Because you often don’t completely know the outcome of your project before you start, you cannot know everything about your presentation in advance. You can have some initial ideas, but as you start to see the projects results, it’s good if you can let them shape the presentation.
Another tip for presentations is to use this opportunity to show the importance or impact of the learnings from the science project. This may mean taking the discoveries to the macro level, or alternatively, taking them to the micro level. It may mean relating them to other areas of science or other areas of life. This kind of approach can help your audience see why this bit of science is important and why it should matter to them.