Types of Projects

Experiment 

An experiment involves the undertaking of an investigation to test a scientific hypothesis by the experimental method. At least one independent variable is manipulated; other variables are controlled. The best experimental projects involve original experimental research in which most significant variables are identified and controlled, and in which the data analysis is thorough and complete.
 

Innovation 

An innovation involves the development and evaluation of new devices, models, theorems, physical theories, techniques, or methods in technology, engineering, computing, natural science or social science. The best innovation projects either integrate several technologies, inventions or social/behavioral interventions or else they design and construct an innovative application that will have human and/or commercial benefit. Alternatively, the best innovations may unify two or more existing physical theories and make verifiable predictions.


Study

A study consists of the analysis of, and possibly collection of, data or facts using accepted methodologies from the natural, social, biological, or health sciences. These include subjective studies involving human subjects, biology field studies, data mining, pattern recognition in physical data, etc. The best projects of this type correlate information from a variety of peer-reviewed publications and from systematic observations, and reveal significant new information or original solutions to problems. Quantitative studies should include appropriate analysis of some significant variables using mathematical, statistical or graphical methods. Qualitative and mixed methods studies should include a detailed description of the procedures and/or techniques applied to gather and/or analyze the data.
 

Grade categories at the Canada-Wide Science Fair Level


Junior

Grades 7 and 8


Intermediate

Grades 9 and 10


Senior

Grades 11 and 12

Getting Started

Here is what you should do once you have chosen your topic:


Research your Topic

Read books from the library; observe related events; gather existing information; look for unexplained or unexpected results. Talk to professionals; write to companies; obtain or construct needed equipment.


Organize and Theorize

Organize your research. Narrow down your hypothesis by focusing on a particular idea.


Make a Timetable

Choose a topic that can be completed in the amount of time you have. Identify important dates. Allow plenty of time to experiment and collect data. Leave time to write a paper and put together an exhibit.


Plan your Experiment, Study or Innovation

Write a research plan to explain how you will do your experiment.


Ethics and Safety Pre-Approval

To ensure that your project will be eligible to compete, complete the Ethics and Safety Interactive Flowcharts and visit the Youth Science Canada website


Consult your Teacher/Supervisor

Discuss your work with an adult supervisor on an ongoing basis.


Conduct Your Experiments, Study or Innovation

Keep detailed notes of every experiment, measurement and observation. Change only one variable at a time when experimenting. Include control experiments in which none of the variables are changed. Include sufficient numbers of test subjects in both control and experimental groups.


Examine Your Results

When you have completed your experiments, examine and organize your findings. Did your experiment give you the expected results? Was your experiment performed with the exact same steps each time? Are there other causes that you had not considered or observed? Were there errors in your observations? If possible, analyze your data statistically.


Draw Conclusions

Which variables are important? Did you collect enough data? Do you need to conduct more experimentation?



Check out the full Guide to Completing Yourh Science Fair Project >

Helpful Hints

  • Your title should be simple and represent your research accurately.

  • If elements of your project cannot be safely exhibited at the Fair, incorporate photographs of important phases of your experiment to use in your display.

  • Photographs of people require their consent.

  • Your display should be presented logically and be easy to read. When you arrange your display, imagine you are seeing it for the first time.

  • Make your display stand out. Use neat, colourful headings, charts and graphs. Homemade equipment, construction paper and coloured markers are excellent for project displays. Pay special attention to the labelling of graphs, charts, diagrams and tables.

  • Be sure to adhere to the size limitations and safety rules when displaying your project.

  • Make sure your display is sturdy.

Nature of the Project

There are four essential components to a good Science Fair project.

Having selected your topic, follow the eight steps outlined in the Getting Started section of this booklet (page 7). For entry into the Science Fair, determine how to best classify your project based on exhibit challenge, grade category and type of project. Consult with your teacher and the Chair of your Regional Fair and follow the information from page 7 to 9 of this booklet to make these decisions.
A Science Fair project requires the following written materials.

Abstract

An abstract is written once your research and experimentation are complete. It should include a statement of the problem/purpose of the experiment, the procedures used, your data and your conclusions. For the Canada-Wide Science Fair, your abstract must not exceed five double-spaced typewritten pages. Check locally for requirements of your Regional Fair. Abstracts are distributed to the judges to familiarize them with the project. The abstract is evaluated as part of the project.
    

Project Data Book

A project data book should contain accurate and detailed notes to demonstrate consistency and thoroughness to the judges and to assist you with your research paper.
    

Research Paper

A research paper includes the following:
  Title Page: Centre the project title and put your name, address, school and grade at the bottom right.
 
  Table of Contents: Include a page number for the beginning of each section.
 
  Introduction: Include your hypothesis, an explanation of what prompted your research and what you hoped to achieve.
 
  ​​The Experiment: Describe in detail the methodology used to collect your data or make your observations. Include enough information for someone to repeat the experiment. Include detailed photographs or drawings.
 
  Discussion: Thoroughly discuss exactly what you did in your project. Your results should be compared with theoretical values, published data, commonly held beliefs and/or expected results. A discussion of possible errors should be included as well as how the data varied between repeated observations, how your results were affected by uncontrolled events, what you would do differently if you repeated the project and what other experiments could be conducted.
 
  Conclusion: A summary of your results.
 
  Acknowledgements: Credit individuals, businesses and educational or research institutions which assisted you. Identify financial support or in-kind donations.
 
  References: List any documentation that is not your own (i.e., books, journal articles).
 
The project should attract and inform, make it easy to assess the study and results, and make the most use of space with clear and concise displays.

The display should include headings that stand out, posters containing written material and charts, clearly drawn and correctly labelled graphs and diagrams and some of the apparatus used so that key aspects of the project can be demonstrated.
Backboards are an essential element for display of projects. Backboards are to be constructed of materials that are unlikely to ignite and in the presence of fire will not allow flame to spread readily or produce toxic fumes. 
    
Additional backboard suggestions:
  • Air pockets should not be left behind any paper used to decorate the backboard.
  • Overlapping sheets of paper are not acceptable.
  • Panels may be painted with any common paint.
  • Peg board allows flexibility for arranging three-dimensional exhibits.
  • White pine should be used for bracing, framing and other woodwork. 
  • Removable pin hinges and wing-nut bolts save assembly time and assist maintenance.

Please refer to the Youth Science Canada website for more information on display regulations.
 

The Science Fair Mentorship Program

The Science Fair Mentorship Program has been discontinued until further notice due to lack of funding. 

We encourage you to contact your Regional Science Fair directly and apply to Make Possible - a free science and technology mentoring network. 
The Science Fair Mentorship Program is a program of the Science Fair Foundation of BC that aims to provide students in grades 7-12 with the resources they need to investigate scientific questions of interest to them. It matches most successful student applicants with two mentors. First, a former Canada-Wide Science Fair participant with post-secondary science experience will provide support as you develop your project and prepare it for judging. Depending on your level of project development, you may also be matched with a university or industry expert in your field of interest. This individual will answer your science and technology- related questions and may also assist by providing technical advice or access to journal articles and laboratory equipment.  
All interested students should complete and submit the online application form. The signature page should then be scanned and emailed to info@sciencefairs.ca. Note that the applications will be reviewed on a continuous basis – i.e. you can submit an application at any time. We hope that this will help accommodate schools with different start times for their project work. We will do our best to contact you as quickly as possible.
 
While you do not have to formulate a specific hypothesis in order to complete the application, you should have a general idea of the question that your project will address. We will not match students with labs if they do not yet have a well-defined question and procedure, and we encourage students to make use of the resources already available to them whenever possible. Please keep in mind that your mentors will not tell you what to study or what experiments to do – you must plan these yourself! However, if you know that you will need a specific type of assistance (e.g. access to a sterile biosafety cabinet), be sure to include this on the application form.
Registered students and their parents and mentors will be invited to a networking dinner designed to encourage connections among academic/industry researchers and students working on science fair projects. Watch out for details to come. 
Questions? Suggestions? Please contact us at info@sciencefairs.ca 

Other Helpful Resources & Publications

Protection of Intellectual Property
Students are encouraged to recognize that their innovation and invention has value and can be owned and registered. The patent process is a mechanism that is used to declare ownership. This ownership can then be a benefit to all and can facilitate technology transfer
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Still have questions?

E-mail us at info@sciencefairs.ca and we will be happy to help you out!