“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.” - Albert Einstein
Every year Harelson sends approximately fourteen science minded students to participate in SARSEF, the Southern Arizona Science and Engineering Fair.
Here are some helpful steps to help you get started!
- Review the following 9 tips that will help you be successful with your science fair project. (The information was gathered from the Capital Area Science & Engineering Fair web site.)
- Pick your topic. Get an idea of what you want to study. Ideas might come from hobbies or problems you see that need solutions. Due to limited time and resources, you may want to study only one or two specific issues.
- Research your topic. Go to the library or Internet and learn everything you can about your topic.
- Organize. Organize everything you have learned about your topic.
- Make a timetable. Choose a topic that not only interests you, but can be done in the amount of time you have. Use a calendar to identify important dates. Allow enough time to put together an exhibit.
- Plan your experiments. Once you have a feasible project idea, write a research plan. This plan should explain how you will do your experiments and exactly what it will involve.
- Consult an adult. You are required to discuss your research plan with an adult and obtain a signature of approval.
- Conduct your experiments. Give careful thought to experimental design. During experimentation, keep detailed notes of each and every experiment, measurement and observation. Keep an accurate journal and do not rely on your memory. Having a thorough and detailed journal is what judges use to determine the depth of your work and many times to separate the good projects from the GREAT PROJECTS.
- Remember to change only one variable at a time when experimenting . Make sure to include control experiments in which none of the variables are changed.
- Examine your results. When you complete your experiments, examine and organize your findings. Did your experiments give you the expected results? Why or why not? Was your experiment performed with the exact same steps each time? Are there other explanations that you had not considered or observed? Were there errors in your observations? Remember that understanding errors and reporting that a suspected variable did not change the results can be valuable information. If possible, statistically analyze your data.
- Draw conclusions. Which variables are important? Did you collect enough data? Do you need to conduct more experimentation? Keep an open mind – never alter results to fit a theory. If your results do not support your original hypothesis, you still have accomplished successful scientific research. An experiment is done to prove or disprove a hypothesis.
Need help picking a topic? Use the following websites to help you get started.