Getting Started

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1. Your Work Book
Buy an exercise book and record EVERYTHING you do on the project from now on. This is essential to be eligible for prizes.

2. Choosing a Project/Topic:
Get an idea of what you want to investigate. Your ideas might come from your hobbies, or from something you have learnt in school, or from something you have seen in the media. Useful ideas can be obtained from many sources. Try the following:

• Ask your friends and family what interests them in science and technology.
• Talk to a scientist or technologist. These people can be found in universities, private companies, research institutes, hospitals and in fact, nearly everywhere.
• Look around and find a biological process or event that you can’t explain. Can you design an experiment to learn about the process?
• Walk around your home and find something that you think doesn’t work very well. Can you improve the design?
• Don’t think, “I’m stuck”, think “What if I changed that and measured it accurately?”.

The following websites may be useful:
• http://www.ipl.org/youth/projectguide

• http://www.isd77.k12.mn.us/resources/cf/steps.html

• http://biology.about.com/science/biology/library/blsciencefair.htm

Many other sites are available, especially in the United States. Fire up those search engines!

3. Research the topic:
Gather information on the topic from many sources including: libraries, companies, experts, the media, the World Wide Web, etc. Record your information sources accurately. Establish contacts to assist you and critique your work. Choose your class of entry.

4. Organise the information:
Refine your idea so that you define an achievable project. In a science project you need to define a hypothesis to test. In a technology project you need to develop a new product, procedure or environment.

5. Draw up a timeline:
This should be in your workbook. Set the key dates that you need to remember. Your project may need ethical approval (see Do I require Ethical Approval for my Investigation?) and you should consider this at this early stage.

6. Plan your practical work:
Define your aim or aims for the project. Write a plan detailing how you will undertake your practical work. Your approach may differ depending on whether you are undertaking a science or technology project.

7. Undertake your practical work:
Be careful to identify everything that may affect the outcome of your work, variables may include things like temperature, light intensity, etc. Keep detailed records of what you do at all times in your workbook. This serves as a diary of what you do. Do not rely on your memory.

8. Examine your results:
Record your observations and measurements accurately in your workbook. Have you achieved the outcomes you desired? Keep in mind that science and technology require a different approach to how results are presented.

9. Draw conclusions:
The conclusions you draw depend on the type of project you have undertaken. What do your results show? Are they accurate? Do you need to conduct more experiments? Has your hypothesis been proved or disproved? What should you do next? Are your results significant? You may need to return to the planning stage and repeat your project again with a modified approach.

10. Present your work:
Don’t clutter your display! Use minimal text; remember that your workbook has all the details recorded.
Flow diagrams are great for detailing methods. Raw data belongs in your workbook; results should be presented on your display as graphs or charts. As a rule of thumb you should be able to stand 1 metre away from your display and be able to understand what is being presented, so don’t have the writing too small. Your presentation or display should conform to the following:
Maximum of 1.2M wide x 0.75M deep x 1.5M high.
Oversized exhibits will not be accepted.

11. Check that your display:
• Is not too high or wide.
• Is free-standing and easily transported. Has no hazards or dangerous parts. Your exhibit must be safe and ethical (see Ethics Committee Approval and Safety Requirements).
• Notify the Science and Technology Fair Coordinator at your school if you require electricity or a water supply for your display.

12. Attend the fair:
This is compulsory, as the judges will want to question you about your project.