Instruction



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GENERAL INFORMATION:


The purpose of the Langston Hughes Science Fair is to give students in grads K-6 an opportunity to participate in the processes of research, review, as practiced in the sciences. Students in the early grades should ask their teachers and parents to help them understand this instruction.

The outline below answers five frequently asked question related to participation in the Science Fair. If you would like help selecting a project or more information about proper procedures for the Science Fair, contact Dr. Xue-wen Chen (xwchen@ku.edu)



I. What kinds of projects may be entered in the science fair?

A. Descriptive research studies (See Note #1)
B. Experimental research studies (See Notes #2)
Animal Experimentation Policy: The Langston Hughes Science Fair Committee reserves the right to disqualify projects that utilize live animal experiments that cause discomfort, injury or death to animals. Additionally, live animals may NOT be included as part of the project exhibit (use of pictures is recommended)
C. Engineering projects2 (Will be included in the Physical Science sections)


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II. What materials should be included in science fair exhibits?

A. Display boards for exhibits should be…
1. Self supporting. Each exhibit must fit within the following table dimensions: 35cm deep and 80cm wide (15” x 32”)
2. Made of foam-core board, illustration board, corrugated cardboard, light plywood, or particle board.
3. Securely joined on the back side (recommend strong tape such as duct or other fabric tape.
B. Written text and graphics on the display board should include the following parts:
1. The title of the project
2. A short statement of the purpose of the project or the research question (see Note #3)
3. The hypothesis (See Note #4)
4. A listing of constants and independent and dependent variables (See Note #5)
5. An outline of the procedure used in the project
6. Graphs and calculations used to interpret data and determine the results
7. A statement of the conclusion based on the results of the study
8. Drawings or photographs that might help explain or verify the procedures or results of the study. Photographs are particularly important in studies that involve live animals because the exhibition setting is not prepared to deal with live animals of any type.
C. Written project report folder should include the following parts: (See Judge’s Criteria)
1. Title
  • The title of the project
2. Introduction
  • A statement of the research question, area, or topic including the purpose of the study and background information
  • A summary of background information secured from the library, encyclopedias, magazines, newspapers, or interviews with experts
  • The hypothesis
3. Method
  • A description of constants and independent and dependent variables in the study and a full description of the procedure used in the project
4. Results
  • Complete tables of all data collected, observations made during the study and graphs or calculations used to interpret data and determine the results
5. Discussion
  • A discussion of the conclusion based on the results of this study and how you would change this project if you did it againt
  • Drawings or photographs similar to those on the display board are optional in the project report. When studies involve live animals or materials that could not be preserved beyond the initial study time, photographs can be used to help document your results
  • Listing contributions that parents, other family members, or community members did for the student
D. Exhibit objects may be placed on the table in front of the display board
E. Each project includes a poster and illustrative/demonstrative material (optional)


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III. What role can parents and older members of the family play in helping a student with a science fair project?

A. Generally, these roles are ones of support and/or assistance to the student in topic selection and planning but NOT in the completion of the project
B. These roles may involve preparation of some part of the project under the following conditions:
1. The task to be performed is beyond the skill level of the student and is not the central purpose of the project. (e.g. lettering on display for a kindergarten student)
2. The task would be dangerous for the student at his/her skill level to perform, but is critical to the study (e.g. assistance in getting into a tree to examine birds nests)
3. The task is one that the student has performed many times, but due to a schedule conflict, cannot perform a few times. (e.g. measuring rainfall while student is on a campout)


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IV. How many Science Fair participants can work on an exhibit?

A. Individual, one person exhibits are strongly encouraged
B. Two people exhibits will be accepted, but will receive only one award. These projects will be judged at the grade level of the student who is in the higher grade in school. Submit only ONE registration form per exhibit.


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V. What awards will be given during the science fair?

Each participant will receive a Science Fair Trophy


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RECOMMENDED PROJECT EXHIBIT:



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NOTES
1. In a descriptive study, the student collects data in situations in which he/she has not used a treatment intended to change the results of the study
FOR EXAMPLE: Pat kept records of the number of different colors of birds that came to the yard on Saturdays between 8:00 and 1:00 A.M. and between 3:00 and 5:00 P.M. Then Pat looked for patterns in these records. This was a descriptive study.
2. In an experimental study, the student uses a treatment intended to change the results of the study. That is, the student changes one variable (independent variable) in some way to see if it will influence the way something behaves, grows, performs, lasts, etc. (dependent variable).
FOR EXAMPLE:If Pat (see above) placed bird seed in the yard during the first and third parts of her study, then removed it for the second and fourth parts of her study, then she would have run an experimental study. Her treatment would have been the presence or absence of bird seed in the yard.
3. The purpose of the project is a general statement of what the student is attempting to find out
FOR EXAMPLE: The purpose of Andre’s experimental study was to find out what type of house insulating material is most cost effective in this area. Notice that nothing in this purpose statement can be directly, specifically tested.
4. The hypothesis is the specific idea that is to be proved or disproved through testing
FOR EXAMPLE: As part of Andre’s study, he needed to determine if there was a difference in the insulating properties of the available materials. His hypothesis was: Equal amounts (mass) of five different insulating materials will differ in the length of time that they will maintain a constant temperature within a small enclosure. Note that this one hypothesis did not give all the information that Andre needed to determine the most cost effective insulating material for this area. To fulfill his purpose, Andre had to consider other factors.
5. Constants are those factors that are kept the same for all groups/objects when testing an hypothesis
FOR EXAMPLE: Among Andre’s constants were the following
  • the amount of insulating material
  • the way the temperature measurements are taken
  • the enclosure used for the measurements
  • the amount of heat and cold to which he exposed the box holding the small enclosure with the thermometer attached
6. Independent variables are those factors that the student changed in experimental studies or selected in descriptive studies.
FOR EXAMPLE: : In Andre’s test, the type of insulating material was an independent variable. In Pat’s descriptive study, the time of day that she chose to make her observations was an independent variable.
7. Dependent variables are those factors that were changed by or as the result of differences in the independent variables.
FOR EXAMPLE:In Andre’s test of his hypothesis, the length of time that passed before the enclosure temperature changed was the dependent variable. In Pat’s descriptive study, the number of birds of different colors that came to the yard in each time period was the dependent variable.


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