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3 Types of School Science Fair Projects
A helpful guide by Science Made Simple

Pick the right kind of science fair project

Before starting your project, ask your school teacher about the kind of science fair project that you are supposed to do.

There are three different and distinct types of projects. What is acceptable for elementary school may not be for a high school or middle school science fair project. Also, state, regional or national science fairs may have different rules. If you do the wrong kind of project, it can keep you from going on to those larger science fairs. Plus you could end up with a bad grade, even after all your hard work.

Let's talk about the three main kinds of projects so that you understand what is expected at your school.

1. A Model Kit

baking soda volcano project

In this type of science project, a display of some kind is assembled in order to illustrate something related to science. A famous example is the "erupting volcano" model. This is a plaster model of a volcano that is filled with baking soda and vinegar; the reaction between the chemicals causes a violent foaming which erupts like lava.

This type of science fair project requires the least amount of work, and lacks the creativity that judges look for. It is sometimes used for elementary school science fair projects, but is rarely appropriate for middle school or high school.

2. The Demonstration

The "demonstration science fair project," like the name implies, simply demonstrates a known scientific principle. It does not answer try to discover something new or answer a question through experimentation. A tornado in a wind tunnel or an "oil drop" model of splitting the atom are examples.

This type of project is usually discouraged for middle or high school students because it doesn't challenge them to think critically about scientific ideas, principles or procedures.

3. The Investigation

This is what most science fairs require. It is a proper scientific experiment, using the scientific method to seek out unknown answers to hypothetical questions. Basically, it's an experiment. If you want to advance to state, regional, or national science fairs, then this is probably the best type of project to choose.


More information on different types of science fair projects can be found in many books. Check your local library or click here to search on-line.

Now that you know about these three types of school science fair projects, it is important to ask your teacher about which will be acceptable for the assignment.

Once you know what type of science project is expected, you can start to determine what the actual topic of your project will be. Let's take a look at the best way to do that.

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