3rd Grade Science Fair Projects

Volcanoes are fun, but there are other options for 3rd grade science fair projects.
Volcanoes are fun, but there are other options for 3rd grade science fair projects. Imgorthand / Getty Images

The 3rd grade may be the first time students are introduced to science fair projects. Children ask questions from a young age, but this is a great time to begin to apply the scientific method.

Introduction to 3rd Grade Science Fair Projects

3rd grade is a great time to answer "what happens if..." or 'which is better..." questions. In general, elementary school students are exploring the world around them and learning how things work. The key to a great science fair project at the 3rd grade level is finding a topic that the student finds interesting. Usually a teacher or parent is needed to help plan the project and offer guidance with a report or poster. Some students may want to make models or perform demonstrations that illustrate scientific concepts.

3rd Grade Science Fair Project Ideas

Here are some project ideas appropriate for 3rd grade:

  • Do cut flowers last longer if you put them in warm water or in cold water? You can test how effectively flowers are drinking water by adding food coloring. You'll get the best results with white cut flowers, such as carnations. Do flowers drink warm water faster, slower, or at the same rate as cold water?
  • Does the color of your clothing affect how hot or cold you feel when you're outside in sunlight. Explain your results. This project is easiest if you compare solid colors, such as black and white t-shirts.
  • Do all students in the class have the same size hands and feet as each other? Trace outlines of hands and feet and compare them. Do taller students have larger hands/feet or does height not seem to matter?
  • How much does the temperature have to change for you to feel a difference? Does it matter whether it's air or water? You can try this with your hand, a glass, a thermometer, and tap water of different temperatures.
  • Are waterproof mascaras really waterproof? Put some mascara on a sheet of paper and rinse it with water. What happens? Do 8-hour lipsticks really keep their color that long?
  • Do clothes take the same length of time to dry if you add a dryer sheet or fabric softener to the load?
  • Which melts faster: ice cream or ice milk? Can you figure out why this might happen? You can compare other frozen treats, such as frozen yogurt and sorbet.
  • Do frozen candles burn at the same rate as candles that were stored at room temperature? Ideally, compare candles that are identical in every way except their starting temperature.
  • Research what dryer sheets do. Can people tell the difference between a load of laundry that used dryer sheets and one that didn't use them? If one type of laundry was preferred over the other, what was the reason? Ideas might be scent, softness, and amount of static.
  • Do all types of bread grow the same types of mold? A related project would compare types of mold that grow on cheese or other food. Keep in mind mold grows quickly on bread, but might grow more slowly on other food. Use a magnifying glass to make it easier to tell types of mold apart.
  • Do raw eggs and hard-boiled eggs spin the same length of time/number of times?
  • What type of liquid will rust a nail the quickest? You could try water, orange juice, milk, vinegar, peroxide, and other common household liquids.
  • Does light affect how fast foods spoil?
  • Can you tell from today's clouds what tomorrow's weather will be?

Tips for Success

  • Choose a project that won't take too much time to complete. Performing an experiment or making a model often takes longer than one expects, and it's better to have extra time than to run out at the last minute.
  • Expect a 3rd grade project to require adult supervision or help. This doesn't mean an adult should do the project for a child, but an older sibling, parent, guardian, or teacher can help guide the project, offer suggestions, and be supportive.
  • Select an idea that uses materials you can actually find. Some project ideas might look great on paper, but be difficult to perform if the supplies are unavailable.