By Maxine Levaren
Part of Science Fair Projects For Dummies Cheat Sheet
One of the tasks of entering a science fair is to write a background research paper for your project. Don’t be nervous about it, though. Basically, it involves finding and organizing information, and then drafting and polishing your paper.
Before you actually begin planning your paper, make sure you know what your teacher requires. Sometimes, he or she wants one or two pages summarizing what you discovered from your research, while others require a ten-page paper complete with bibliography and footnotes.
Here’s how the research-paper process works:
Gather all the information you need from books, magazines, the Internet, government publications, and interviews.
Keep track of the sources of all your facts.
Organize information by grouping related facts together.
Use the following three-point formula for your writing the paper.
The “them” in this formula may be teachers, fellow students, judges, and so on depending on your individual circumstance. Just consider who your particular audience is and fill in the blank:
Tell them what you’re going to say.
Tell them what you just said.
Outline your paper by determining your main headings and grouping related facts under each heading.
Write a first draft of your paper using your own words (so that you don’t plagiarize anyone else’s work).
Format the bibliography.
Review, edit, and revise the paper.
Ask someone else to read it over.
Check your spelling.
Create your final copy.
At this point, you are in the home stretch. Except for writing the abstract, preparing your science fair project final report will just entail pulling together the information you have already collected into one large document.
- Your final report will include these sections:
- Title page.
- Abstract. An abstract is an abbreviated version of your final report.
- Table of contents.
- Question, variables, and hypothesis.
- Background research. This is the Research paper you wrote before you started your experiment.
- Materials list.
- Experimental procedure.
- Data analysis and discussion. This section is a summary of what you found out in your experiment, focusing on your observations, data table, and graph(s), which should be included at this location in the report.
- Ideas for future research. Some science fairs want you to discuss what additional research you might want to do based on what you learned.
- Acknowledgments. This is your opportunity to thank anyone who helped you with your science fair project, from a single individual to a company or government agency.
- Write the abstract section last, even though it will be one of the first sections of your final report.
- Your final report will be several pages long, but don't be overwhelmed! Most of the sections are made up of information that you have already written. Gather up the information for each section and type it in a word processor if you haven't already.
- Save your document often! You do not want to work hard getting something written the perfect way, only to have your computer crash and the information lost. Frequent file saving could save you a lot of trouble!
- Remember to do a spelling and grammar check in your word processor. Also, have a few people proof read your final report. They may have some helpful comments!
Here is a sample science fair project final report. Note: The author's teacher did not require source citations and required a different format for the bibliography. Science Buddies staff added references and reformatted the bibliography at a later date; consequently, the page and volume references are fictitious for some of the sources.
Science Fair Project Final Report Checklist
|What Makes for a Good Science Fair Project Final Report?||For a Good Science Fair Project Final Report, You Should Answer "Yes" to Every Question|
|Does your abstract include a short summary of the hypothesis, materials & procedures, results, and conclusion? If you did an engineering or programming project, did you state whether you met your design criteria?||Yes / No|
|Does your final report include: ||Yes / No|
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