Now that you have decided what you want to study, it is time to do a little research. This will give you some background information about your science fair project. It will also help you narrow down your topic if it is still very broad.
(This article is the third in a series of 10 which walks a student and his parent through creating a science fair project. See the end of this post for links to the other articles. )
What is known about your topic? Who is famous for studying it? Why is this topic important? How has it been studied in the past? How does this topic relate to things you do or use every day?
There are several ways to collect information. Go to the library and get some books. Interview a scientist who is familiar with the topic. Read newspaper or magazine articles. If you have your parents’ permission you can also look on the internet.
Your assignment for step three is to research your topic. Use any of the methods listed above. Keep track of your research in your log book. You can record interview notes, summaries of what you have read, or even clippings of magazine or newspaper articles. Remember to date each entry in your log book. Don’t forget to record the source of your information. You can also add this in a “Bibliography” or “Resources” section in the back of your log book.
Note to Parents
Remember that the adult has three roles in a science fair project – mentor, coach, and gopher. For this step you might be a coach.
A coach teaches skills and provides encouragement. You might have to teach your child how to use the library or how to interview a scientist. This is often the part of the project which students like the least, so you will need to encourage your child to do it. You are like the coach of a sports team. You teach skills and encourage your child. Your child is still the performer, but you are the behind-the-scene teacher and the front-row applauder. Remember to be positive in your encouragement. The project is supposed to be fun.
The juvenile section of the library is a great place to research the science fair project. Help your child locate some books related to his topic. Once you find the section in the library, your child should be able to select some age appropriate books related to the topic. Some will even have simple experiments in them which might give your child ideas for his project.
The amount of information recorded in the log book depends on your child. Young children especially do not want to write much. This is a good formula for a young student’s log book. “I read pages XX-YY in <book name> by <author>. I learned that ____________”. Older students should be encouraged to write more. As I mentioned above, students often dislike this part of the project but they should try to get at least one or two research entries in the log book.This article is part of the Creating a Science Fair Project series. See the list below for links to the other articles in this series.
- Creating a Science Fair Project Step 1 - The Log Book
- Creating a Science Fair Project Step 2 – Choosing a Topic
- Creating a Science Fair Project Step 3 – Collect Information
- Creating a Science Fair Project Step 4 – Problem and Hypothesis
- Creating a Science Fair Project Step 5 – DesignType Category
- Creating a Science Fair Project Step 6 – The Procedure
- Creating a Science Fair Project Step 7 – Run Your Study
- Creating a Science Fair Project Step 8 – Analyze and Interpret Your Results
- Creating a Science Fair Project Step 9 – Arrive at a Conclusion
- Creating a Science Fair Project Step 10 – Create Your Display