Making a Project Presentation

Present Your Findings.

Once you’ve completed all your experimenting and data analysis, you’ll be ready to present your findings. The rules of the competition(s) you’re entering will dictate whether your findings are presented orally, written up as a paper, displayed in poster format, or some combination of the three.

Regardless of the method of presentation, it is important to put your data in the formats used by other scientists within your field. The competition judges will be science professionals with an expectation about how data in a particular field is communicated. In general, you should emulate the types of graphs, figures, and data tables you see in top journals within the area of science in which you’re working. Your mentor will also be a good source of constructive criticism on this subject.

Once you’ve put together your data, make sure you’ve practiced your presentation skills and proofread all your written communications. Parents, teachers, and mentors are all great resources for helping you improve your writing and speaking skills. You don’t want poor data communication to obscure your good research!

Your Project Presentation should include all steps of the Scientific Method or Engineering Design. You should have a page on: Introduction, Background Research, Question and/or Hypothesis, Method or Procedure, Materials, Data and Results (inclusive of some charts and graphs), Conclusion, Discussion — inclusive of Limitation (What would have made the project stronger?) and Implications (Why the project was important). Optional: Definitions

This year, the SARSEF Fair will only be accepting virtual Project Presentations.

Creating a Virtual Presentation

  • Project Presentations must be a single PDF document with a maximum of 15 pages (up to 25 if including pages from a lab journal/notebook). This can be created through Google Slides, Microsoft PowerPoint, Keynote, or a word-processing application. Students will not create a physical project board for the regional SARSEF Fair.
    • First page should be a Title Page(ES/MS)/Quad Chart(HS). Other pages should include Research Question & Hypothesis/Prediction, Introduction, Procedures, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, and References.
  • Page size should be American standard 8½”X11” and created in landscape orientation.
  • The smallest allowable font size of body text is 14 pt. All text should be easily readable. (Please consider this in font choices.) Exception: You may use a smaller font size, down to 10 pt., for figure captions or photo credits.
  • All Project Presentation elements must conform to D&S rules as if placed on a physical poster for display to judges and the public. Passing a Display & Safety inspection will be required to compete.
  • Project journals/lab notebooks can be completed physically or digitally. (Physical journal pages should be scanned to submit electronically.)
  • High School students will also be responsible for creating a Quad Chart that should be presented as the the first page of their pdf Project Presentation (in lieu of a Title Page).
  • High School students will also be responsible for writing a research paper to submit with their Project Presentation. Please see ISEF’s research paper instructions for this requirement. 
  • Students may create a video to accompany their project if they desire. There will be a place to provide a YouTube link for any videos they’ve created of them talking about their project. Uploading and creating the YouTube link will be the responsibility of the student. Any videos are completely optional and will not factor into judging. Judges will not see these videos until all judging decisions have been made. Videos will not be available to any viewers until our public viewing day (Friday, March 5th).
  • View sample projects (PK-8):

Creating a Display Board or Scientific Poster

While these cannot be submitted to the 2021 SARSEF Fair, if you are presenting at an in-person fair, students need to prepare a display board to communicate their work to others. You can use a printed poster format or do a larger display board.  Here are the basics on what to buy and include on a Poster or Display Board.

Posters can be made using Power Point or Publishing software. SARSEF can do the printing for you ($25 per poster). Display boards may be purchased at any office supply store, Teacher Supply store, Michael’s, or Wal-Mart.  They come in many colors but white is fine as well.  Any display board sold at a store will fit our requirements for size, but at the High School level you can even go bigger than at the lower levels. When expanded  it should be no more than 48 inches across, and can range from 36 to 108 inches tall.

What goes on the poster or display board?

  1. Title: Make this bigger than the rest of the section titles. Use scientific names. Titles can be in  the form of a short question but should clearly communicate your topic.
  2. Abstract: This needs to be completed in 250 words. However, do NOT include right on the poster in case you get selected for ISEF (it is not allowed to be on the board there). This is a summary of the whole project (in 250 words or less). It includes the goal or why it is important, the methods, the results, and most importantly the conclusions. You will want to include a sentence at the end about what you would like to do to continue this project in the future.
  3. “Statement of the Problem” or “Question”: How did you think of this project? Convince us that you really wanted to know about it. What were you trying to investigate and then tested?
  4. Background Research: This is your research regarding what was learned about the subject of your project from your literature search. The literature search (library and internet) should be cited in this section.
  5. Materials: List everything you needed to do this project (be specific) and put a few words about why you needed them.
  6. Operational Definitions: How did YOU define the terms you used? What means one thing to you might mean something different to someone else.
  7. Procedure or Methods: Number each step you did. You want to be descriptive and detailed here, but make each step be short so they are quickly and easily read…no long paragraphs here, split them up into two instead. You may want to create a flow chart for easier reading.
  8. Results: This is where your data charts and graphs go. No explanations are given here. Your raw data should be included in your notebook/binder and set in front of the display. DO make sure to include a few graphs on our display board.
  9. Conclusions: This is where you interpret and draw conclusions about your data, charts and graphs. May sentences will start with: “Based on my results, I can conclude that …” or “Based on my data …”
  10. Discussion:  Limitations: and Implications. You can use this section to state why results might be limited to this study only and not generalized. Limitations are variables that you might not have been able to control or could not change – every research project has limitations! This is also where you can put in why the project is important to the world. Add the additional things that made your project interesting, or things that made you think further, or wonder more. Ideas for future projects can go here, too!
  11. At the High School level name can be on the board, however it is generally better to just put them on your materials and on a 3-by-5 card or slip of paper and clip to the back.
  12. All SRC Forms and permissions need to be on display in front of the projects (usually in a notebook).

Go to the following for some great examples:

http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_display_board.shtml#samples

  • Use a font size of at least 16 points for the text on your display board, so that it is easy to read from a few feet away. It’s OK to use slightly smaller fonts for captions on picture and tables.
  • The title should be big and easily read from across the room. Choose one that accurately describes your work, but also grabs peoples’ attention.
  • A picture speaks a thousand words! Use photos or draw diagrams to present non-numerical data, to propose models that explain your results, or just to show your experimental setup. But, don’t put text on top of photographs or images. It can be very difficult to read.

Some Notes of Caution:

  • Please do not put your name on the front of the display board (place your name and school on the back using a 3-by-5 card). Although it will be obvious that you did the project during the interviews, and your name will be on your lab book, you do not want the judges to think you are trying to sway them in any way.
  • Do not include photos of faces. Photos (even of yourself) should be taken from the back or side as you are doing the project only. Have permissions for any human in the photo.
  • Please do include captions that include the source for every picture or image.
  • Do NOT include acknowledgements of people who helped you on the board. (These should be listed in your lab book.)
  • Please DO include your laboratory notebook.
  • Please do NOT bring equipment such as your laboratory apparatus or your invention. It will not be allowed to stay.
  • Do NOT bring plants, soil, petri dishes growing anything, liquids of ANY kind, anything with moving parts, chemicals, or anything that can rot or decompose. They will be removed and possibly not returned. See Display and Safety under Rules.
  • Make sure your display does not include anything edible.

Creating Your Final Research Report

At this point, you are in the home stretch. Preparing your science fair project final report will just entail pulling together the information you have already collected into one large document. For more detailed instructions on creating your research paper, see ISEF’s research paper instructions

Your final report will include these sections:

  • Title page
  • Abstract. An abstract is an abbreviated version of your final report.
  • Table of contents
  • Question, Variables
  • Background research. This is the research paper you wrote before you started your experiment.
  • Materials List
  • Experimental Procedure or Methods
  • Data Analysis and Discussion: This section is a summary of what you found out in your experiment, focusing on your observations, data table, and graph(s), which should be included at this location in the report.
  • Conclusions
  • Ideas for future research. Some science fairs want you to discuss what additional research you might want to do based on what you learned.
  • Acknowledgements. This is your opportunity to thank anyone who helped you with your science fair project, from a single individual to a company or government agency.
  • Bibliography

Your final report will be several pages long, but don’t be overwhelmed! Most of the sections are made up of information that you have already written. Gather up the information for each section and type it in a word processor if you haven’t already.

Save your document often! You do not want to work hard getting something written the perfect way, only to have your computer crash and the information lost. Frequent file saving could save you a lot of trouble.

Remember to do a spelling and grammar check in your word processor. Also, have a few people proofread your final report. They may have some helpful comments.

Preparing for Judging Day

Attend Your Competitions and Enjoy

After all your hard work spent planning, executing, and presenting your research, it is time to start competing! Keep in mind that you can only gain entry to some of the top competitions by being a finalist in other qualifying science fairs, so make sure you understand the rules and that you plan accordingly.

Presenting Yourself During the Science Fair Judging – Be Professional!

  • Always dress nicely for the science fair judging period. NO JEANS!
  • Make good use of your project presentation. Reference/point to diagrams and graphs when you are discussing them.
  • Always be positive and enthusiastic!
  • Be confident with your answers; do not mumble.
  • If you have no idea what the judge is asking, or do not know the answer to their question, it is okay to say “I do not know.”
  • Treat each person who visits you like a judge, even non-scientists.
  • After the science fair, always ask for feedback from the judges to improve your project.

For some science fairs, you will actually have a chance to meet and speak with the judges. If you prepare for these interviews, they’re a great opportunity to create a positive impression of your work.

Judging is the fun part! Although you may think you will be nervous, you will soon learn that you do not have time to be.

  • High school students are required to attend the entire judging session as scheduled.
  • Judging is where you get to finally talk about what you did – and you are the expert!
  • It may help to practice or to write up a very short summary to tell people when they say “Tell me about your project.” This should be short — about 30 seconds to 1 minute long – because the judges have already had a chance to go around and read your project before you came.
  • Organize a list of questions you think the judges will ask you, and prepare/practice answers for them. Practice explaining your science fair project to others and pretend they are judges.
  • Practice explaining your science fair project in simple terms so anyone can understand it.

Good luck!

 

“Preparing for the Science Fair Judging – Practice Makes Perfect!”

By Amber Hess (www.ScienceBuddies.org)

If you can communicate your science fair project well, you maximize your chances of winning.

Write up a short “speech” summarizing your science fair project. Do not restate your abstract word by word. You will give this speech (from memory) when you first meet the judges. Include in the speech:

  • How you got the idea.
  • How you did the experiment (explain any relevant terms along the way).
  • Your results and conclusions.
  • Why your science fair project is important in today’s society. (In other words: How will it help people today?) You don’t have to cure cancer. Perhaps your work will help a small group of people, but it’s still important.
  • Demonstrate that you understand the theory behind why your project turns out the way it does.
  • If you can’t fit all of this into your presentation, be prepared to discuss each of the above topics separately.
  • Expect to be interrupted when you talk to the judges. You will rarely finish your speech.
  • Organize a list of questions you think the judges will ask you and prepare/practice answers for them. A few common questions are listed below.
  • How much help did you receive from others?
  • What does your data tell you?
  • Why is this research important? (Who cares if a rocket flies well?)
  • What do your graphs represent?
  • What does your data tell you?
  • What problems did you run into while doing your experiment and how did you fix them?
  • What are the three most interesting things you learned when doing this science fair project?
  • What further research do you plan on doing, or would do, to this science fair project? (Your future study)

Study your background research as you would for a test. In some ways, presenting your science fair project is like taking an exam. The better you know your background research, the higher the chance you have of winning.

This is the part I usually had trouble with: I would do the research and understand everything, but then I needed to study it. I would eventually learn and remember all the facts I should know, but I had to sit myself down and study. Force yourself to pretend there is a test the next day on all of the information, and you will be prepared.

  • Practice explaining your science fair project to others and pretend they are judges.
  • Practice explaining all graphs, tables, your short speech, answers to possible questions judges might ask, etc.
  • Practice explaining the theory behind your science fair project. Theory includes everything from your background research.
  • Videotaping yourself during practice can also be very helpful. Although it can be painful to watch the video, you will see the mistakes you made and be able to fix them the next time you speak.
  • Practice explaining your science fair project in simple terms so anyone can understand it.
  • Many students do not know how to explain their science fair project to the general public. If you can explain your project in laymen’s terms, you are one step ahead of everyone else!
  • Presenting Yourself — Be Professional!
  • Always dress up nicely for the science fair judging period. NO JEANS! Everyone will take you more seriously if you look professional.
  • Make good use of your display board. Point to diagrams and graphs when you are discussing them.
  • Always be positive and enthusiastic!
  • Show the judges you are interested in your research and they will be more likely to remember you.
  • Do not be negative unless you are emphasizing a frustrating problem you ran into.
  • Be confident with your answers. Do not mumble and say “Ummmm … I think maybe this is happening …” Even if you answer a question incorrectly, at least they will not think you are a wimp!
  • Emphasize how you were creative/unique/innovative with your science fair project.
  • One of the major criteria on a judges’ list is creativity and originality.
  • If you have no idea what the judge is asking, or do not know the answer to their question, it is okay to say “I do not know.”
  • This is better than making something up that probably is not correct. It’s better to get on to the next question for which you probably do know the answer.
  • Treat each person who visits you like a judge, even non-scientists.They may be a valuable contact who could give you an internship later on.

Always ask for feedback from the judges after the science fair. Gather your judges’ email addresses and ask them how you can improve. (If you know their name and employer, often you can do an Internet search to obtain their email addresses.) In my experience, I hear back from about half of the science fair judges I email. If you move onto the next level, you should update your science fair project and/or display board after receiving feedback. The improvements you make could determine whether you place in the next science fair! If you don’t go on to the next level, their comments can help you on your next science fair project.

Every Child. Thinking Critically. Solving Problems.

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