College Science Fair Projects

A good project will answer a question and test a hypothesis

College science projects
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It can be a challenge to come up with a science fair project idea. There is fierce competition to come up with the coolest idea, plus you need a topic that is considered appropriate for your educational level. 

A well-designed project at the college level can open the door to future educational and career opportunities, so it pays to put some thought and effort into your topic. A good project will answer a question and test a hypothesis.

Planning and Research

College students usually have a semester to complete their project, so they have some time to plan and conduct research. The goal at this level is to find an original topic. It doesn't have to be something complicated or time-consuming.

Also, appearances count. Aim for professional-quality images and presentation. Handwritten work and drawings won't work as well as a printed report or poster with photographs. Possible ideas, divided by topic, include:

Plants and Seeds

  • Does the presence of detergent in water affect plant growth? In what ways? What is the implication regarding water pollution?
  • Does magnetism affect the growth of plants? In what way?
  • Is a seed affected by its size? Do different size seeds have different germination rates? Does seed size affect the growth rate or final size of a plant?
  • How close does a plant have to be to a pesticide for the pesticide to work? What factors influence the effectiveness of a pesticide, such as rain, light or wind? How much can you dilute a pesticide while retaining its effectiveness? How effective are natural pest deterrents?
  • What is the effect of a chemical on a plant? You can look at natural pollutants—such as motor oil or runoff from a busy street—or unusual substances, for example, orange juice or baking soda. Factors that you can measure include rate of plant growth, leaf size, life/death of the plant, the color of the plant, and ability to flower/bear fruit.
  • How does cold storage affect the germination of seeds? Factors you can control include the type of seeds, length of storage and the temperature of storage, light and humidity.

    Food

    • How does the shape of an ice cube affect how quickly it melts?
    • Do the same types of mold grow on all types of bread? Are certain preservatives better at inhibiting dangerous molds than others?
    • Is the nutritional content of different brands of a vegetable (such as canned peas) the same? How much variation is there in any given product?

    Miscellaneous

    • What forms of recycling are available to students? If college students participated in these recycling programs, what would be the effect on cost, the environment?
    • Do consumers prefer bleached paper products or natural-color paper products? What factors affect the preference? Age? Socioeconomic status? Gender?
    • Solve a problem. For example, can you design a better type of street intersection?