Parts of a Science Project
by Ron Kurtus (revised 23 December 2015)
The parts or components of a science project consist of an experiment, a written report that includes the results, and a presentation display of the experiment. All three parts are essential in completing the project. You may be doing a science project as part of a class assignment or for entry into a science fair.
Questions you may have include:
- What is an experiment?
- What does the report tell?
- How is the presentation done?
This lesson will answer those questions.
An experiment is a study of some phenomenon, such that you can gather data and draw conclusions. You first need to get an idea of an experiment to perform. Then you must state your purpose of what you are trying to do. And finally, you perform the experiment, gather your data and draw some conclusions.
First of all, you need to get an idea of an experiment to perform. You may see something that piques your curiosity, such that you would like to study it more and perhaps create something new. Or, you teach may assign a subject for an experiment.
(See Factors in Getting an Idea for a Science Project for more information.)
Before you start your experiment, you need to state your purpose. What is it that you want to achieve? Is there something your have seen or read about that you want to study to find out what happens, how it happens or why it happens?
For example, suppose you read that water can reduce friction and get the idea of performing an experiment to verify that is true. Your statement could be: "The purpose of my experiment is to prove that water can be used as a lubricant to reduce friction."
You perform your experiment and gather data from your observations. Or, you can purposely vary some parameters to allow you to gather data on the changes. In either case, you then can draw conclusions about the results.
In 1757, when Benjamin Franklin crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a boat, he made observations of the ocean currents and collected data on those observations. He then drew some conclusions about how the different currents flow in the ocean. This was the first time anyone had gathered such data.
If you cannot gather data, it is not an experiment and you really can't draw any conclusions.
Note that you may do an experiment where you try something new, and it doesn't work as expected. This is not a failure. The result of the experiment is that the things you tried did not work.
In 1879, Thomas Edison had tried almost 1000 different materials until he found one that would work as a filament for the electric light bulb. A news reporter asked Edison if he became discouraged with so many failures. Edison replied, "Those weren't failures. I just found 1000 materials that would not work for an electric light bulb."
Learn from your mistakes and use setbacks to your advantage.
Part of a science project is to write a report that summarizes the purpose of your experiment, what and how you did it, documentation of your data, and the conclusions that you have drawn.
It is good to keep a journal where you can jot down your thoughts, organization and things you do. In many cases, the journal or log of activities is required as proof of what you did and when you did it.
The formal report is then a summary of what you have written in your journal. Listing of data from measurements, charts and graphs illustrate your results.
For a class science project, you may not have to display your experiment in a presentation. But a presentation is required in a science fair project and is a major factor upon which you will be judged.
The presentation consists of displaying some of the equipment that you have used, and some presentation material with a summary of factors in your experiment. The whole idea of the presentation is to allow the audience and judges in the science fair to get the gist of your experiment.
Sometimes a not-too-original experiment with an outstanding presentation will win over a creative experiment with a poor presentation.
Whether it is part of a class assignment or for entry into a science fair, the three parts of a science project are essential. The parts of the project are an experiment, a written report, and a presentation display of the experiment and its results.
Resources and references
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Parts of a Science Project