RESOURCES FOR A SUCCESSFUL
SCIENCE, ENGINEERING, COMPUTER SCIENCE, OR MATHEMATICS PROJECT
For the GSDSEF Rules and Regulations and all certification forms, please go to the Student:How to Participate page or GSDSEF Rules.
The following resources will also provide you with valuable information to help you decide which type of project you would like to do and how to have a successful project.
Section A: Deciding on what Type of Project: Science, Engineering, Mathematics, or Computer Science
Look at the Student Guides to differentiate between Science Research and Non-Inquiry based Research. Some areas of research are based on the scientific method, but since engineers, inventors, and computer programmers have different objectives than those of other scientists, they follow a different process.
VIDEO LINK: Comparing Science and Engineering Projects - GSDSEF video series
Section B: Getting Project Ideas
If you aren’t sure what kind of project you would like to work on, there are several sites that can help with ideas…HOWEVER…YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE THE PROJECT UNIQUE AND YOUR OWN! Whatever you come up with, “Google” it to make sure it is not a “been there-done that” project. Remember, even one change you make to an existing procedure/protocol makes it your own!
Links to other successful project ideas...Again, these projects are NOT to be repeated or copied!!! They are to give you some ideas...
- General Science or Engineering: Science Buddies can help. Answer a short questionnaire about your interests and hobbies and it will use your responses to recommend ideas you will enjoy: https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas
- Environmental Inquiry Project Ideas: http://ei.cornell.edu/student/
- Geology Project Ideas: https://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/kids/sciencefair.php
- Math Project Ideas: https://cms.math.ca/Education/mpsf/
- You can also check out the Society for Science Database to see award-winning projects at the International Science and Engineering Fair to get ideas for a project. https://student.societyforscience.org/projects-database
- The California State Science Fairs has abstracts from winning projects from all over the state of California. - Pick a year and then click on "Projects organized by category". Browse the categories & open what interests you. Look through the project titles that are "hot linked". Read the abstract. It may spark an idea for a new investigation that is uniquely your own. Whatever idea you come up with for your project, be sure to Google it to be sure it is unique. California State Science Fair
- This site, UCRiverside Chemical Engineering Fun for Kids, is a springboard for ideas in Chemical Engineering. It also has fun activities you can try out. https://engineeringonline.ucr.edu/chemical-engineering-fun-kids/
- If you are interested in electrical projects, this site has background information, activities, and links to help you think of your own project: https://www.angieslist.com/articles/electrical-education-science-lessons-and-activities.htm
- This website, Best Kid Stuff: Kid’s Online Learning Tools for Science, Technology, and Beyond connects you to other sites for science fair project ideas and resources, as well as coding and programming resources for all ages: https://www.bestkidstuff.com/stem/online-learning-tools-science-tech/ (NEW - resource added Sept. 2020)
Consider these questions as you come up with a project idea:
- Is my project unique in at least one aspect, or has it been done before exactly?
- Is my project an experiment/investigation or is it a demonstration of principle?
- Is the answer to my question already known?
- Will my investigation add something new to what is known about the topic?
- How much time will it take to conduct my research? Will I be able to meet all of the deadlines? Will it look like I did it in one day?
- Are my results measurable (using the metric system) or is it only based on observation?
VIDEO LINK: Projects to Avoid - GSDSEF video series
Tutorials on how to make a project your own:
Section C: Deciding on What Forms Are Required
You’ve decided on a project but you’re not sure if Certification Forms need to be completed before beginning. All projects requiring a Certification Form must be reviewed and approved by the GSDSEF Scientific Review Committee (SRC) BEFORE STARTING with experimentation.
For further information on which Certification forms are needed, go to the How to Participate Page--Table 4B or the GSDSEF Rules page to access the Rules and Guidelines and How to Complete the Certification Forms.
Your teacher/advisor can help you with the SRC pre-approval and make sure you have any necessary forms completed.
If you have questions or are unsure concerning a project's acceptability, please have your teacher/advisor contact the Scientific Review Committee by using the Contact Us online.
- Note: due to geographic regions and state/local rules, GSDSEF reserves the right to prohibit projects that use dangerous items that may be considered acceptable in ISEF.
Section D: Resources on Conducting a Successful Science or Engineering Project
Do you need help with the scientific method or following the Engineering principles to design and work on your project? The following resources will help you with the information on working through your project.
UPDATED 2020: Use the GSDSEF Sample Student Notebook as a template to produce a quality science fair notebook. The sample notebook contains a description, directions, and example for each section. It also includes a checklist and timeline to ensure each section is completed in a timely manner.
- Getting Started on a Science Fair Project- Discovery Education
- Using the Scientific Method - Science Buddies
- Using the Engineering Method - Science Buddies
- How to do a Science Fair Project video series from JPL/NASA
- Research at Home Resources by Society for Science & the Public (ISEF)
- Keeping a Logbook (Janice VanCleave)
- How to do an Engineering Project - GSDSEF video series
Projects need to use SI (International System of Units: metric measurements, ampere, kelvin, etc.) and data tables/charts and graphs need to be clearly labeled. The following resources will help you with conversions and in creating charts/tables and graphs using Excel spreadsheets:
How to Write an Abstract:
Writing Abstracts (from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Writing a Science Fair Abstract from Write A Writing
This link takes you to the page for the Size and Safety requirements, Do's and Don'ts of putting together your project display board, and sample board layouts.
What are Judges Looking for in the Projects:
See also Guidelines for Engineering, Computer Science, and Mathematics Projects in Section A for specific criteria.
How to Answer the 5 Most Common Questions Science Fair Judges Ask (Scientific American blog)
Section E: Resources for Background Research/Articles
Do you need information on specific topics for your project. The sites below has a library of articles that can be used for background research or just to learn more about science, math, and/or technology:
(Don't forget to cite your sources in your project!)
SmartAdvocate: Software Programming and Coding Glossary for Kids (NEW - resource added Sept. 2020)
Tinkering, Simple Electronics, Simple Machines, Engineering, and Coding - Activities and Resources
PUBLISH YOUR RESEARCH:
Workshops presented by the Student Leadership Board (SLB) are available to help you through the process. Sign up for one of these invaluable workshops, or if you were unable to attend, check out their powerpoint presentations.