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Science & Engineering Fair

Our science & engineering fair is an opportunity for students in Kindergarten through 8th grade to showcase their discoveries, pursue scientific inquiry, and nurture possibility. Bay Farm’s annual Science & Engineering Fair will be held virtually on Monday, February 8th, 2021.

This year’s Science & Engineering Fair will use videos and other visual media to showcase your project. There are two parts to each entry: a visual presentation and an interview video. Once you have completed your project and have both parts ready, click the button below to register and submit your project. Projects can be submitted between November – February 8th!

Experiment Ideas

Its a great time to start thinking about what you’d like to enter in the Science & Engineering Fair and have fun with science! Here are some helpful resources:

Types of Projects

There many different types of projects that can be entered in the Bay Farm Science & Engineering Fair: science, engineering, and product testing/design.

Science Projects

  • Define a testable question.
    • What is the effect of a change in the amount of sunlight on the growth of tomato plants?
  • Identify a control (a “standard” group) and test group to compare against.
    • I will put one tomato plant (the control) in a sunny window.
    • I will put 5 tomato plants (the test group) in the same window and leave them their for different lengths of time.
    • I will daily, record how many hours of sunlight it receives and its growth.
  • Describe how you will run the experiment.
    • I will put 1 control and 5 tomato plants (the test group, labeled test #1-5) in a sunny window. I will take out one tomato plant (test #1) after 2 hours of sun; take out a second tomato plant  (test #2) after 4 hours of sun; take out a third tomato plant (test #3) after 6 hours of sun; take out a forth tomato plant (test #4) after 8 hours of sun; and take out a fifth tomato plant (test #5) after 10 hours of sun. I will put the test plants back in the window at the same time each day for several weeks and record how much they grow each day.
    • I will leave the control plant in the window and, every day, record how many hours of sunlight it received and how much it grew.
  • Define your variable. Make sure that you only change one variable at at time.
    • The variable in the tomato plant experiment is the number of hours each test plant stays in the window each day. The plants will be put in the same window each day.
  • Describe what you are measuring (what is changing). These are the quantitative measurements you take during the experiment.
    • I will measure the amount of growth observed in each tomato plant (both the control and the test group). I will measure the plant growth in cm/day.
  • If possible, repeat your test to see if your results are reproducible.
  • Analyze your data and draw conclusions. It is good to put your data in graphs/tables.
    • I will compare the difference in plant growth between the test group and the control plant.

Engineering Projects

  • Clearly define the problem or need the engineering project will solve.
    • For example, I would like to build a solar-powered desk fan to keep me cool while I study.
  • Establish criteria and design constraints. Criteria are physical and functional characteristics of the design (the shape, weight, function, etc.) Design constraints are things that limit the project; such as time you have to spend on the project, the project’s budget, and the availability of materials needed.
    • In our example, the criteria could be:
      • small enough to fit in the right-hand corner of my desk (15cm x15cm x 15cm)
      • powered entirely by the sunlight coming into my window
      • keeps me cool while I am in online classes
    • Design constraints and limitations could be:
      • the budget I have to buy materials I need, like a solar panel and soldering iron.
      • finishing the project by the end of January (so I have enough time to put together the presentation for the February 8th, Bay Farm Science & Engineering fair)
      • the materials available, like a broken fan.
  • Research and evaluate alternatives to develop a plan
    • In our example, you might:
      • find out how much electricity a conventional, batter-powered fan of similar size uses.
      • identify solar-panels that can supply a similar voltage
      • compare the available options to determine which best meet the project criteria.
  • Construct a prototype or computer model to test your design.
    • This is when you start building your solar-powered fan!
  • Test and refine your prototype and settle on a final product.
    • Test your solar-powered, fan against your established criteria. Does my fan fit in the space I have on my desk (a 15cm x 15cm square)? Does it run using the solar-energy available through my window? Does it move a sufficient volume of air to keep me cool while I take my online classes?
  • Failure analysis, tweak and re-test as many times as possible.
    • Keep a journal to record what you do: how you fix problems, what you change, and what works/doesn’t work.

Product Testing/Design Projects

  • Clearly identify what kind of product (candles, hair products, etc.) you plan to test.
    • In this example, I will test commercial and natural laundry stain removers to determine if there is a difference in efficacy.
  • Define a test group of similar items.
    • I will compare Shout™, Seventh Generation™, vinegar, and baking soda.
  • Define the experimental procedure.
    • I will make tomato sauce stains on five white t-shirts. I will treat four of the stained t-shirts with the different stain-removers in my test group. The last stained t-shirt will not be treated (the control). I will then run the white t-shirts through a normal laundry cycle (wash & dry). I will compare the stains remaining, if any, on the five shirts.
  • Describe how you will take measurements.
    • I will look at the t-shirts to determine how clean they are. I will use a color wheel to compare the stain intensity.
  • Define criteria for changing qualitative measurements into quantitative measurements.
    • I will make a graduated scale from 1-10 where increasing numbers indicate increasing levels of cleanness. For instance, 1 = stain before any stain treatment, 3 = dark stain, 5 = lighter stain, 7 = very light stain, and 10 = perfectly white. I will use a color wheel to differentiate the stain intensity.
  • Analyze and draw conclusions from your test measurements and observations. It is a good practice to put your data in graphs or charts.
    • Based on the stain intensity, I can conclude which stain-remover in my test group is most effective in removing tomato stains from white t-shirts.

Project Guidelines and Information

Once you have an idea, make sure you design your project to meet the requirements of the Science and Engineering Fair.

Other Science Resources

Here are some other great tools you can use to help make sure you’re ready for the Bay Farm Science & Engineering Fair.

Middle School Projects

Tired of learning on the screen? The Bay Farm Science & Engineering Fair is a great place for middle school students to stretch their creativity and do some fun, hands-on projects. We challenge you to find a project idea (maybe something you find on Science Buddies) and make it your own unique experiment: change the variables, materials used, or experimental procedures. If you read that plants grow better with classical music, you might ask yourself if they also grow better with rock music. What would this experiment look like? If you know that Mentos™ in Coke™ makes a cannon, what do you hypothesize would happen if you use a sparkling mineral water? Why? The more that you know about why something happens, the more interesting your explorations will be.

Middle school students have the opportunity, if interested, to design a project for both the Bay Farm Science & Engineering Fair and be eligible to compete in the Alameda County Science & Engineering Fair that will take place on March 6th & 13th, 2021. For middle school projects to be eligible for the regional fair, they must meet strict ACSEF criteria. This includes applying for approval prior to starting your experiment and meeting earlier deadlines. Please visit the ACSEF website and download the 2021 handbook for more information.

Whether you do a project just for the Bay Farm Science & Engineering Fair or want to go for regionals, we encourage you to start thinking of a project that will be fun and interesting for you!

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