Science Fair Project Question
One of the most important considerations in picking a topic for your science fair project is to find a subject that you consider interesting. You will be spending a lot of time on it, so you do not want your science fair project to be about something that is boring.
We know that finding a topic is the hardest part of a science fair project, and sometimes you just need a little help focusing on what sorts of topics would be of interest to you. To help you find a science fair project idea that can hold your interest, Science Buddies has developed the Topic Selection Wizard. By answering a series of questions about everyday interests and activities, you will help us identify an area of science that is best for you. If your teacher has assigned a specific area of science (like “biology” or “earth science”) for your science fair, you can also browse our whole library of projects by subject.
If you are coming up with your own topic, or have a topic idea from somewhere else, be sure to look at our list of Science Fair Topics to Avoid. Steering clear of these will ensure you have a high-quality science fair project that is easier to complete!
Your Science Fair Project Question
Once you have chosen a topic of interest, you will need to create a related scientific question. Without a good question, your whole science fair project will be much harder, if not impossible! It is important to select a question that is going to be interesting to work on for at least a few weeks and that is specific enough to allow you to find the answer with a simple experiment. A scientific question usually starts with: How, What, When, Who, Which, Why, or Where. Here are some characteristics of a good science fair project question:
- The question should be interesting enough to read about, then work on for the next few weeks.
- There should be at least three sources of written information on the subject. You want to be able to build on the experience of others!
- The question should contain one factor (variable) that you can change in your experiment and at least one factor (variable) that you can measure.
Now, for something like a science fair project, it is important to think ahead. This will save you a lot of stress and unhappiness later. Visualize the experiment you might perform to answer your question. How does that possible experiment stack up against the following issues?
- The experiment should measure changes to the important factors (variables) using a number that represents a quantity such as a count, percentage, length, width, weight, voltage, velocity, energy, time, etcetera. Or, just as good might be an experiment that measures a factor (variable) that is simply present or not present. For example, lights on in one trial, then lights off in another trial, or use fertilizer in one trial, then do not use fertilizer in another trial. If you cannot observe or measure the results of your experiment, you are not doing science!
- You must be able to control other factors that might influence your experiment, so that you can do a fair test. A “fair test” occurs when you change only one factor (variable) and keep all other conditions the same.
- Is your experiment safe to perform?
- Do you have all the materials and equipment you need for your science fair project, or will you be able to obtain them in a reasonable amount of time at a cost that is okay for your family?
- Do you have enough time to do your experiment before the science fair? For example, most plants take weeks to grow. If you want to do a project on plants, you need to start very early! For most experiments you will want to allow enough time to do a practice run in order to work out any problems in your procedures.
- Does your science fair project meet all the rules and requirements for your science fair?
- Have you avoided the bad science fair projects listed in the Science Fair Topics to Avoid table in this project guide?
If you do not have good answers for these issues, then you probably should look for a better science fair project question to answer.
Keep in mind that science fair projects that involve human subjects, vertebrate animals (animals with a backbone) or animal tissue, pathogenic agents, DNA, or controlled or hazardous substances, often need approval from your science fair’s Scientific Review Committee beforehand. Check with your teacher or the science fair coordinator for rules specific to your science fair. You can also read more about common science fair rules on our Scientific Review Committee page.
Educator Tools for Teaching about Scientific Questions
Using our Google Classroom Integration, educators can assign a quiz to test student understanding of which topics and questions are appropriate for a science project. Educators can also assign students an online worksheet to fill out detailing the topic of their science project.
These are examples of good science fair project questions:
- How does water purity affect surface tension?
- When is the best time to plant soy beans?
- Which material is the best insulator?
- How does arch curvature affect load carrying strength?
- How do different foundations stand up to earthquakes?
- What sugars do yeast use?
These are examples of bad science fair project topics that you should avoid: