16 Secrets to a Super Science Fair Project

Whether you're growing cells or building a spaceship, you can wow judges by following these tips that have withstood the test of time.

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1. Proofread Your Text

You have worked too hard and spent too much time on your project to let spelling slip. Poor spelling can cause judges to take away points. Don't let spelling cost you the prize. Make sure to spell each word correctly.

2. Correctly Use "Effect" Versus "Affect"

Know how to properly use the word effect or affect, especially when it is in your project title. Remember this simple rule to avoid a spelling fiasco: use "affect" as a verb and "effect" as a noun.

3. Forgo Fancy Fonts

Projects that win are easy to read. Avoid straining the judges eyes by staying away from fancy, unreadable fonts. Make sure your print is crisp, clear and clean.

4. Center the Title

There are three sides of each science fair board: the left, right, and center. Keep the title in the center panel by not letting it extend to the left or right boards. A "wrap-around" title can visually distract the viewer.

5. Get Out the Glue

When in doubt, always use glue over tape! It looks cleaner and more professional. If you need do use tape for models you are designing, use it sparingly.

6. Think Before You Glue

Make sure to lay out all of you pieces first before gluing. Try out many arrangements before gluing to decide which one looks best. Put your most eye-catching, important material in the center panel. Make sure all the pieces fit before gluing. Once you glue they are stuck!

7. Create a Picture-Perfect Project

Many colleges value participation in visual and performing arts courses as a means of broadening students' perception and appreciation of their surroundings. These courses include art, dance, drama, and music. It is widely accepted that exposure to the arts contributes to a child's intellectual development.

8. Select a Simple Background

Decorative backgrounds actually take away from your project, rather than add to it. Make the visual focus of your project be the pictures and information rather than a colorful background created by construction paper or print outs. Basic black and white board colors generally work best.

9. Balance Your Board

Plan out where you are placing text and pictures on your board before gluing. You may need to enlarge pictures or add pieces. Balance your board by distributing pieces evenly throughout your project board. Avoid "whitespace," unused space on the board, with a visually symmetric presentation. Too much whitespace can mean: 1. Your pieces are too small and unreadable or 2. You need more visuals in your presentation.

10. Create Tasteful Borders

Highlight the pieces in your project. Place colored construction paper behind your cut outs to help them stand out from the board. Measure no more than a few centimeters as a surrounding border. Remember to use colored paper as a frame for pictures rather than wallpaper for the board.

11. Choose Complementing Colors

Design your presentation with a color scheme! Choose colors that match. Or select contrasting colors that look good together. Use a color theme throughout the project create to create a sense of unity.

12. Type Out Your Text

In the age of computers there is no excuse for handwritten science fair projects. Plan to type every piece of your project from the title to the descriptions. It is okay to include hand drawn sketches. Make graphs through a spreadsheet program. Create headings for your pictures. Give your project the professional edge that it needs to win.

13. Get It Straight!

Whatever you do, make sure that your pieces are glued on straight. Nothing looks worse than a crooked, unbalanced science fair project. If you plan to glue the pieces at different angles, that is fine if it looks consistent. If you plan to make your pieces straight, get it straight! Use a ruler to create straight lines and linear spacing throughout your project.

14. Create Catchy Titles

Simply state your title by making it to the point. Cut out the fluff, but keep in the clever. Catchy words that add to the title can enhance your project, like "A Phosphate Worse Than Death" borrows from the expression, "A Fate Worse Than Death." Titles that are too long can be used in the problem statement instead. Sometimes statements and questions are the best science fair project titles.

15. Think Outside the Box

Don't reinvent the wheel. Choose a topic that is new, or select an existing project and change it up! Making your science fair project a little different can go a long way. The work and time your put into your project will show through.

16. Keep the Science in the Project

Remember: you are conducting a science project, not a research paper. Your ability to reason scientifically, use the scientific method, and integrate scientific concepts counts in the end. Whether you build a model or perform an experiment, your project must show results. Plan ahead to design an experiment that you have time to complete.

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