January 22, 2018

High School Science Project – Part 2

This is part 2 of a three-part blog series on completing a high school science project. Today we will discuss ways to present your data and we’ll wrap up next time with information on participating in science fairs. I encourage students to complete at least one science project during their high school years!


There are at least three different ways that you can present your project. To be a true Science Fair quality project, you should do all three. So, let’s review them quickly here.

high school science project

Collect the data and make it pretty!

1. Write a Paper

I have my science classes complete a project every few years and here are the requirements I give them for their papers:

A. Title page – Come up with a title for your work – this will appear on your backboard as well. The title should be bold centered towards the top of the page – larger font okay here. On the bottom half of the page, center your full name, the date due, and your class – ex. Biology.

B. Table of Contents page – telling which page each of the following sections begins.

C. The body of your paper should flow – do not change pages each time you start a new section. The headings will be used as separators. Your body should contain these sections:

1. Introduction (at least two paragraphs) – this is your hook and the basic introduction explaining your project. It will include why you chose the project and what you will be testing.

2. Hypothesis – (one paragraph)

3. Acknowledgements (one paragraph) – acknowledge any people who helped you in your project.

4. Research (two or more pages) – this is all that work you did in the beginning. Highlight it here – being double sure that you have cited all sources.

5. Materials (list) – be very specific. Include brand names, sizes, weights or volumes, quantity, etc. (metric). If you built anything, include the procedure for construction. You may insert pictures or diagrams here (not of your experiment – only of devices you may have used). Questionnaires used in your experimentation should go here. ‘Box’ them in so that it is clear where they stop and start.

6. Experiment procedure – a simple and complete list of the steps you used. Someone should be able to take your materials list and your procedures section and completely duplicate what you did. Don’t leave anything out.

7. Data and Results (three or four pages) – start by showing your data, explain what it all means and end with any graphs or charts that make it easier to interpret the results. This section will be a combination of writing and charts. Again, pictures and diagrams will go well here. Caution: do not make the graphics huge – just large enough to be readable. Make sure they are well labeled. We should understand what everything in your charts or graphs mean.

8. Conclusions and Application (at least three paragraphs – may be more) – what can you interpret from your results? Did you have a correct hypothesis? Why or why not? How can someone use these results in real life?

9. Works Cited (this is a separate page) – see the Bedford Handbook or Writers, Inc. for instructions on completing this accurately. Or, you can find MLA guidelines online at The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue.

D. PROOFREAD!! Be sure that your paper flows well and that someone who is not familiar with science or with your project can understand what you have written.

2. Make a backboard

This is typically a tri-fold board that contains highlights of your science project. It is not somewhere that you just staple your research paper. Viewers should be able to read your backboard from left to right. You will want to start with your question, then move to your hypothesis and the highlights of your research as well as the visual results of your experimentation. Then finish with your results and conclusion. If you are preparing a board for the International Science and Engineering Fair, then your backboard must also contain an Abstract.

We’ll cover more ISEF details in Part 3 of this series, but for now – an Abstract is a written summary of your project. It should be a maximum of 250 words and should include the purpose of the experiment, your procedures, your observations and your conclusion. You can find an example here.

Your board should be colorful and creative, but not cluttered. And although you can include photos of your project, they should not include pictures of yourself.

3. Give an Oral Presentation

Speeches – you either love to give them, or you hate it. Either way, it’s good to do them. After you have spent so much time with your project, you should now be able to clearly explain all of the pieces to an audience. The struggle I often see in oral presentations, though, is the ability to be structured. Students often start their oral presentation with the results of their experiment and fail to let their audience know how they got there. Your presentation should be sequential and clear. Remember that even though you’ve spent a great amount of time with your project, your audience has not, so you will need to explain it clearly. Spend five to seven minutes giving your listeners a full review of your project. Then, end your presentation with a chance for them to ask you questions.

Most of all – have fun!

~to your success,


Here’s where you’ll find the rest of the series:  Part One,  Part Three

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Speak Your Mind