DIFFERENT TYPES OF SCIENCE FAIR PROJECTS
There are many approaches to making scientific discoveries, but a general standard, known as the scientific method, is used by many scientists to look for relationships. This method begins with a question about the effect of one thing on another. The next step is a review of literature to determine what is already known about the topic and a research paper with citations that summarizes this information. Next is a hypothesis that predicts a relationship between the two factors that are part of the question. A controlled experiment is designed and carried out to test the hypothesis. The results are analyzed and a conclusion reached regarding the hypothesis.
“Scientists try to understand how nature works; engineers create things that never were.” An engineering project should state your engineering goals, your developmental process and the evaluation of your improvements. Engineering projects usually start by defining a need or having an idea about how to make something better. It is important to develop design criteria; to do background research, checking the literature to see what has already been done and/or what products already exist that fulfill a similar need. Prepare a preliminary design and a list of materials that may be needed. Along the way consider costs, manufacturing and possible end user requirements. Build and test a prototype of your best design. Reliability, ease of repair and servicing should be considered when determining which is your best design. Retest and redesign as necessary. Take pictures and make graphs to help you analyze your test results.
COMPUTER SCIENCE PROJECTS
These often involve creating and writing new algorithms (a formula or set of steps for solving a particular problem) to solve a problem or improve on an existing algorithm. Simulations, models or ‘virtual reality’ are other areas on which to conduct research. Computer Science projects generally follow the same general guidelines as the Engineering projects.
These involve proofs (a convincing demonstration that some mathematical statement is necessarily true), solving equations, etc. Math is the language of science and is used to explain existing phenomena or prove new concepts and ideas.