Applying the Scientific Method to Your Science Fair Project

By Maxine Levaren

Part of Science Fair Projects For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The heart of the scientific method is determining the objective of your science fair project and then stating it in your question and hypothesis; deciding what, if any, variables and controls you plan to use; and determining the experimental and control groups you plan to set up.

Here’s a quick look at the parts of the scientific method:

  • Question or Problem: What your project will accomplish or solve — in other words, why you’re doing the project.

  • Hypothesis: What you think your project will prove — it’s stronger than an opinion, but weaker than a fact.

  • Subject: What you’ll test or build during your project.

  • Variables: Factors that you’ll change or evaluate in order to test the hypothesis. Variables are most often used in experiments, rather than engineering, computer, or research projects.

    The different kinds of variables are

    • Experimental (independent) variable. What you purposely change during your project in order to test your hypothesis.

    • Measured (dependent) variable. The change you’ll evaluate and measure, which occurs when you apply the experimental variable.

    • Controlled variable (control). The factors that must be the same for all samples in your experiment — every time that you do your experiment — in order to ensure that your results are valid.

  • Experimental group: A number of identical subjects to which you apply the experimental variable.

  • Control group: A group of subjects that’s identical to the experimental groups, except that no variables are applied.

  • Results: Here, you analyze your results and record the facts and figures that show what happened during the project. Data can be represented in charts or graphs.

  • Conclusions: The conclusions compare the results to the hypothesis to determine if the project proved the hypothesis.