Science Fair Project Do's and Don'ts (page 2)

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

Picture It!

The old saying, "pictures are worth a thousand words" speaks volumes in science fair projects. Pictures look great! No question about it. If you want your project to shine, use pictures wherever possible. They catch the attention of the viewer, help you to fill up your board space, and demonstrate to the judges exactly what you did.When using pictures, it is important to plan ahead. Have a good camera and let an adult help you "frame" your pictures accurately. Also, if you are doing an experiment that involves several days (called a longitudinal study), be sure to allow time to get your pictures developed. If you elect to use pictures (and I hope you do), lighting and focusing are very important or they can diminish the impact of your project. In other words, do your pictures justice and DO THEM WELL! Also, refer to the other secrets on this list when laying out your pictures on the board.

Construct Without "Construction"

As oxymoronic as this sounds... it's true. Following the same lack of scientific evidence as Secret #6, using construction paper to wallpaper your board just doesn't look good and isn't a good idea.  Fancy backgrounds on web pages are distracting to the visitor especially if there is content that needs to be read. Think of your project as a web page. You want the judge to be able to read what you did without getting sunburn from the blast of colors you have used to wallpaper your board. For this reason, stick with the basic board colors that have been given to you. Black and white science boards work best. You can still use lots of color without sacrificing the "whitespace" that you have been given (see the next secret for a full explanation of "whitespace").

Avoid "Whitespace"

"Whitespace" is the amount of space on your board that is unused after your project is done. This is another reason to lay out all of your pieces before gluing because if you find that you don't have enough "stuff" to put on your board, you still have time to add pieces or enlarge the pieces that you have.  Whitespace is one sure way to bore the viewer. If there is a lot of whitespace on your board it can possibly mean two things. One, your pieces are so small that it cannot be read unless using a magnifying glass, or two, you just don't have enough "stuff".

Border To Avoid Boredom

Placing a piece of colored construction paper behind your 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper will make a nice border helping the pieces stand out. Now, I know you are thinking, "Yeah, but you said construct without construction" and you would be right. But here, the difference is that you are using construction paper to accentuate your pieces rather than wallpapering your project board with construction paper. The borders created by doing this measure no more than a couple of centimeters and make your project look good. The colors you choose are up to you. All colors look good for the most part, but if you want to take it step further, using color themes (discussed in next section) make projects look even better. The same rule holds true for web designing as well. Go figure.

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