I got the idea for this experiment while working on the rocks we collected recently. When we got home last weekend, we unloaded the 750 pounds of quartz crystals from our Arkansas trip onto the back patio. Then I left for Philadelphia to present some electricity shows. Today, I went out to unpack some of the boxes. We had wrapped the best crystals in newspaper, and all the newspaper that was exposed to sunlight had turned yellow. Cool! A chemical color change that happens fairly quickly, and is caused by exposure to light!
Because of a large number of requests, I am making a small change in the order of this series. I will bump the classroom project until next time so we can talk about making your project scientifically testable.
Ahh, those three special words that can strike terror into the hearts of students, parents, and teachers. I have already begun to get emails requesting fun, quick, easy projects that no one has ever done before, and that will win the science fair. I wish I had a few hundred thousand projects that fit those requirements, but even that would not take the frustration out of this annual ordeal.
“I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.”
Confucius, Chinese philosopher
Many of the things that students struggle with in the process of doing a science fair project are the result of not fully understanding unfamiliar tasks. If they have never written an abstract, or even read one, the challenge of composing one for their project can be truly daunting. The same is true for selecting a good topic for their project, properly stating their hypothesis, controlling variables, etc.
Now we need to design our project so that it will be scientific. This means looking very closely at variables, things that could change the results we get. We want the variable we are testing to change, but we want everything else to be as close to the same as possible.
The very first step in doing a science fair project is to set your goal. Do you want to win the science fair, or just get the project done because you have to? Once that is done, then you need to carefully select a topic for your project. Doing these things correctly will make your project MUCH easier, and the video below will show you how to do that.
What if someone else has already done the project you want to do? Replicating a project that someone else has done is a very important part of the scientific process, but if you REALLY need a unique project, take a look at Thoughts on a Science Fair Project, part 2.
Once you know what you would like to do, then you need to form a hypothesis.