Sunday, February 26, 2006

Choosing a Science Fair Project Topic

Making Sure Your Science Fair Project Topic is Right

Choosing a topic is one one of the most crucial parts of this process. It is important that you choose a topic that is “right.” By this, I don't mean that you need to be on the absolute edge of physics research – there is no need for your project to be about string theory or Bose-Einstein Condensation (although, if you relish a challenge...!). Instead, make sure the topic is right for you.

Choosing a topic can seem hard, and it often is. Don't get too worked up about it, most people get stuck on this step for a little while. If you don't come up with a topic right away, that's o.k. You will get there.


- Choose a topic that interests you or that you're curious about. Don't feel that you need to impress anyone with the “difficulty” of the topic – impress them with your actual work, instead.

- Ask yourself the following questions:

    What interests me?

    What do I like to do?

    Is there something I've always wanted to know the answer to?

    How can turn one of these answers into a science fair topic?

- There is bound to be a way to do this – for any answers you could possibly have come up with. Stuck? Ask your teacher or mentor for advice on how how to approach your interests from a scientific point of view. Try searching the internet for “the science of...” Chances are, there will be many pages full of things you can try.

- Choose a topic that you can investigate in the time you have (it is plain impossible to study things that take years to happen in an eight week period!) – simpler is usually better.

- While you're trying to pick a topic, don't put the rest of your life on hold! Live your life as always, but pay close attention to the world around you as you go about your day – ask yourself questions about things you might have previously taken for granted, like:

    Are the ads on TV telling the truth?

    What science went into the design of your favorite toy?

    Where does your garbage go? How much do you create each week?

    How does your favorite sports star's signature shoot/pitch/move work?

- If you want (or need) to produce a physics related project, remember that there are many fields within physics. Go to the library and read newspapers, magazines, websites and science journals.

- Go to museums, especially a science museum if you have one locally.

- Ask people – teachers, family, friends.

- Write down all your ideas in your notebook!

- Narrow down your list of ideas until you have the one you like best. It's ok if you don't know everything about this topic yet – there is plenty of time to do more research.

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