Types of Science Fair Projects

What Type of Science Project Should You Do?

There are five main types of science fair projects: experiment, demonstration, research, model, and collection. It's easier to choose a project idea once you've determined what sort of project interests you. This list describes the five types of science fair projects.

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Experiment or Investigation

Science projects usually involve help from parents, teachers, and other adults.
Science projects usually involve help from parents, teachers, and other adults. Blend Images - KidStock, Getty Images

This is the most common type of project, where you use the scientific method to propose and test a hypothesis. After you accept or reject the hypothesis, you draw conclusions about what you observed.

Example: Determining whether or not a cereal contains the amount of iron per serving listed on the box.

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Woman working in chemistry lab
Phosphate buffers is particularly useful in biotech or biology laboratory protocols. Andrew Brookes / Getty Images

A demonstration usually involves re-testing an experiment that already has been done by someone else. You can get ideas for this type of project from books and on the internet.

Example: Presenting and explaining an oscillating clock chemical reaction. Note that this type of project can be improved if you do the demonstration and then go further, such as by predicting how temperature would affect the rate of the clock reaction.

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Bubble Temperature Science Fair Project Poster
Bubble Temperature Science Fair Project Poster. An example of preferred poster layout. Todd Helmenstine

In this project, you collect information about a topic and present your findings.

Example: A research project can be an excellent project if you use the data to answer a question. An example would be polling people to ask about thier belief in global warming, then drawing conclusions about what the results mean for policy and research.

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An organic chemist in a laboratory
Grete Kask, organic chemist at Tallinn University of Technology. By Maxim Bilovitskiy (Own work) [ CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This type of project involves building a model to illustrate a concept or principle.

Example: Yes, one example of a model is the vinegar & baking soda volcano, but you can have an incredible high school or college project by building a model of a new design or a prototype for an invention. In its best form, a project with a model illustrates a new concept.

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Student studying
Blend Images - KidStock/Getty Images

This project often displays a collection to illustrate your understanding of a concept or topic.

Example: As with the demonstration, model, and research project, a collection has the potential to be a lame project or an exceptional project. You could show off your butterfly collection. That wouldn't win you any prizes. You could show off your butterfly collection and observe how wing lengths of the insects differed from year to year and look into possible explanations for the phenomenon. Discovering a correlation with pesticide use or temperature or precipitation could have important implications. See what I mean?