What Makes a Good Science Project?
What makes a good science project? This article has information to help you make the best science project you can. Keep reading for tips and ideas about what makes a good science project, then use them for your next science fair.
What Makes a Good Science Project?
When choosing a science project to assign in a homeschool setting, or when helping a child choose a science project for school - whether for class or for a science fair - it is natural to have some questions about what makes a good science project. This article will go over some criteria that will be helpful in making a choice.
Purpose of the Science Project
A classroom science project often has very different ends than a science fair project or a science project done in pursuit of a hobby. In each case, different criteria may apply. For example, for the classroom, you may be seeking a science project that ties into a text or worksheet or illustrates a particular relationship, function, or effect. For a science fair, it’s more likely that you will focus on a project that will allow the student to demonstrate knowledge, creativity, and science-related skills. Trying to come up with a project that is unique may also be a factor here, whereas in the classroom, it really doesn’t matter whether the project has been done by hundreds of thousands of students in exactly the same way. And when one is looking to pursue a hobby, one may not care so much what the project is as that it’s closely tied in with one’s interest.
Level of the Science Project
In different circumstances, the level of the science project will matter more or less. First, it is important to know that science projects labeled with levels assign those levels for various reasons. Several possible considerations are:
- during what grade the topic of the science project is typically studied (but note that this can vary from school to school, let alone from state to state and textbook to textbook).
- the typical skills of children in the grade, for example, fine motor skills; familiarity with safety when working with electricity, fire, chemicals, and other potentially hazardous items; the ability to work independently; etc.
- the prior knowledge and understanding that are necessary underpinnings of the science project.
If you are assigning the project in a homeschool, you may find that grade assignments for certain projects are safely ignored when they refer to the grade at which something is typically taught and your curriculum differs. If prior knowledge and understanding that your child doesn’t have is needed, then you can make the choice to address that, as long as the entire matter is not beyond your child’s understanding. And your child’s skill level might lead you to adapt a project or closely supervising a project that an older child might complete independently.
For a science fair project, on the other hand, you may be purposefully seeking a project that is above the usual grade level or extends what is typically done in class at your child’s level. And when doing a science project as a hobby, you may find the guidelines for level don’t much apply because your child may have done so much work in the area that the prior knowledge and necessary skills are well in hand, and the relationship with curriculum isn’t important in this context.
Materials Needed for the Science Project
Another consideration worth giving thought to is the materials required. At some times, you may wish to find a science project that can be done right now with what’s available. This is more likely to be the case with a classroom assignment that you’re planning for the coming week, for example. This may partly depend on the area of science, because some areas, by their nature, require specialized materials or equipment, which you may need to purchase. Examples would include a dissecting kit or chemicals for performing chemistry experiments. Be sure to note carefully what materials are essential to have in the exact form designated and which are open to substitutions.
At other times, as for a science fair project or an ongoing hobby, you may be expecting to make some purchases in the normal course of things. Since some science equipment can be quite expensive, you may want to shop around to find a good price. There are science project kits which - however they are labeled - may function not only for science fairs, but also in classroom settings and for hobbyists. You can use the other criteria in this article to help you decide about these.
Time Needed for the Science Project
Even if you have the materials on hand, the amount of time required by the science project may be a deal breaker. For science fair projects and hobbies, a longish, ongoing project may not only be fine, but ideal. But at least sometimes in a homeschool, you may be looking for something that can be done in a certain number of class periods - sometimes just one. Check instructions to see what variations are possible. You may be able to either extend or curtail a project to make it suit your purposes.