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Factors in Getting an Idea for a Science Project

by Ron Kurtus (revised 16 November 2012)

Many students are required to create and display a science project as part of their class work. Others will create a science fair project to enter in a school, local or even national competition. One challenge you may have is coming up with a good idea for a project. Factors to consider are the general area of science for the project, topic of interest and practicality of the experiment.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.



General area of project

In some cases, the area of a science project is determined by the teacher. You may be studying one facet of science and are then assigned to create a science project or experiment in that area. For example, you may be studying sound and need to demonstrate some principles of sound.

If you are entering in a science fair, you may have free reign on what you want to do or the general subject you want your project to cover. You can consider your general interest in some subject such as sports, baking, or psychology and turn it into a good science project.

Topic of interest

Once you have the general area of interest defined, you want to narrow the subject down to something more specific. Winning projects are often on a hot topic in the news or on clever idea in an area of extreme interest to you.

Hot topic

You can often narrow down a general subject by looking at hot topics in the news. Global warming, bioengineering, anti-terrorist methods, bird flu, and life on Mars are ideas of subject that most people are familiar with and that can draw the attention judges at a science fair.

The news on television, newspaper articles—especially in the science section—and science magazines are good sources for ideas.

Personal interest

Activities or areas of personal interest or hobbies can often be a starting point for a science project. You may have some clever ideas of how to improve or change the way things work. You also have a head start, because you already know a lot about the subject.

Practicality of experiment

Although you may have a great idea for a science project, the idea must be practical enough that you can actually do the project or experiment. Obviously, you can't do a project that would cost millions of dollars or would be so complex that it would take a team of engineers to complete it.

It is better to do a good job on a small project than a poor job on a large project.

In some cases, you can have a large future project, but display only a part of it for a science fair.

For example, in high school a friend of mine wanted to build an electron microscope. This is an enormous project. But in the science fair, he entered a vacuum pump he built for his project. No one thought he would ever be able to build the microscope, but he did get an award for his pump.

Note that he did finally complete his electron microscope and had an article written about his achievement in Popular Science magazine.

Summary

There are several factors to consider in creating a science project as a school assignment or for a science fair. One is to define e general area of science for the project. Then you narrow it down to a specific hot topic of interest. And finally, you need to consider the practicality of the experiment.


Be creative


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Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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