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Science Fair Project Do's and Don'ts

— Louisiana Region 5 Science and Engineering Fair
Updated on Sep 28, 2011

Spelling Counts!

You have worked too hard and come too far to let the spelling slide! Make sure you get it right! If your project is in the final running, this could eliminate you, so make sure to spell every word correctly.

Effect vs. Affect

Confusing "affect" with "effect" is a common mistake in a lot of science fair projects. Unfortunately, mistaking the proper form of the word is most noticeable when it is used in the title of your project. The rule that applies in most cases is as follows: If you are using the word as a verb, then "affect" is the correct spelling. If you are using the word as a noun, then "effect" is the correct spelling.

Avoid Unreadable Fonts

It's okay to express a little creativity in your graphics and fonts, but don't overuse fancy unreadable fonts in your project. It makes it hard for the judges to read and they don't have a lot of time to spend on your project. Make your fonts crisp, clear, and easy to read.

Avoid 'Title Wrap-Around"

There are 3 panels to just about every science fair board; the left, right, and center. When designing your project, try to make sure that the title of your project stays within the center panel and doesn't extend into the left and right panels. This is called "wrap-around" and can be visually distracting to the viewer.

"Sticky Situations" - Lay It Out First!

Make sure to lay out all of the pieces you are going to glue on the board before you glue them. This is so important! Once those pieces are glued... you are stuck! It's also a good idea to experiment with a variety of different layouts before deciding which is best. Get some help from adults. What looks good to you might not look as good to others. Get opinions from friends, family members, aunts, uncles, even your dog, Fideaux. It is also a good idea to put your best "eye-catching stuff" in the center panel. Did you hear that? Put your best stuff in the center! Whatever you decide, make sure all the pieces fit on the board before gluing or you will be in sticky situation and well, you'll be stuck!

Tape vs. Glue

I have absolutely no scientific reasoning for this but, use glue instead of tape. I can only rely on my past experience with this so listen carefully. Tape just looks bad. I have no idea why, but every project that I have seen that uses tape just does not look as good as it can be. This judgment holds true for all types of tape. Masking tape, scotch tape, electrical tape, duct tape, tape on the corners, tape on the edges, tape in front, tape behind... all looks bad. Trust me. Don't use it! "Yeah, but you can't see the tape behind". It looks bad. Trust me. If you need to use tape on the models you are designing, then by all means... DO. Just use it sparingly and exercise good judgment.A final word about glue. When using glue, it is important to use the right amount. You don't want your glue to drip or "ooze" from under the pages. Elmer's glue sticks seem to work the best. They keep the pages you glue from wrinkling, don't result in drippage, and for the most part, secures the pages fairly well.

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