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Homeschool Science Fair

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By Beverly S. Krueger

Planning a science fair is a big task. If you're considering starting a homeschool science fair for your support group, the following considerations and resource suggestions should help make the job easier. If you're a student looking for science fair ideas or help, jump to the bottom of the page.


Will your science fair be affiliated with another science fair such as the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair?
If your fair is a precursor to a larger science fair, you will need to obtain all the rules and guidelines for that fair and follow them. It is also possible to allow fair entrants to meet more stringent guidelines if they wish to pursue entrance in another science fair, or to meet less strict guidelines with the understanding that they won't be considered for advance to the next level.

Usually your fair must have a required number of entrants and meet other geographic requirements. Research this well in advance to be sure that you meet all requirements and have sufficient time to file required paperwork.

Science Fair listings - national, state, regional, local and virtual.

Will you be judging all science fair entrants?
Possible options include judging all entrants, judging older entrants, or allowing entrants the choice of having their project judged or not.

Choosing a date and location.
If your fair will be sending winners on to another level of science fair, you will need to be sure to hold your fair in plenty of time to meet that fair's deadlines. Intel ISEF affiliation forms are due by October 1, 2003.

You will also need to find a location for the fair that allows sufficient room for all projects. It's best to limit project size, so that you have a reasonable estimate of the space and number of tables you will require. ISEF project size guidelines are:

30 inches (76 centimeters) deep
48 inches (122 centimeters) wide
108 inches (274 centimeters) high including table

You'll also need to determine the electrical outlet capacity of your facility. Electricity requirements for each participant should be part of their fair application. Also make clear with running water will be available for projects.

What type of restrictions will be placed on projects?
Will humans or animals be allowed as subjects of a project? If so, what guidelines must be met? Will hazardous materials be allowed? If so, which hazardous materials will be allowed and what restrictions will apply to them? To learn more about such restrictions read the International Science & Engineering Fair Rules and Guidelines.

What roles will your volunteers play? How will you select judges? What role can students play at fair? ISEF has a good breakdown of roles and who can fill those roles. Recruiting Science Fair Volunteers

Judging Criteria
For judges to be able to make a fair comparison of projects they must have specific criteria for judging projects. The criteria you choose will be based on the purpose of your fair and the level of students being judged.
Sample judging criteria:

Science Fair Sponsors
You may want to subsidize the costs of your fair by asking local businesses to sponsor your fair. The Greater Philadelphia Homeschool Science Fair is cosponsored by a local university chapter of Sigma Xi, a science and engineering honor society. This allows sponsor donations to be tax deductible. GPHSF has a complete section on their site devoted to fair sponsorship.

More resources for Homeschool Science Fair Coordinators

Science Fair Forms

Science Fair Project Ideas and Helps

  • Are you planning to start a research project?
    This Intel ISEF Student section includes information about selecting a project, the scientific method, a student fair checklist, information for parents, and the Intel ISEF Rules and Guidelines.
  • Conducting an Experiment for the Science Fair
    This guide for student's from the Greater Philadelphia Homeschool Science Fair includes a timeline for taking a project from start to finish. It includes tips and information about how to display your project, how to write a project summary, how to give an oral presentation, keeping a journal or log book, and writing a written report including an abstract.
  • IPL: Science Fair Project Resource Guide
    Are you looking for some help with a science fair project? If so, then you have come to the right place. The IPL will guide you to a variety of web site resources, leading you through the necessary steps to successfully complete a science experiment.
  • Future Scientists and Engineers of America
    Home of the hands-on project.
  • School Science Fairs
    Project idea lists categorized by age.
  • Science Fair Central
    Discovery School's science fair site includes the Soup to Nuts Handbook, everything you need to know about creating a science fair project., and a project ideas list of project topics to help you get started.
  • Energy Quest - Science Projects
    Science projects and energy activities for students, K-12
  • Scienz Fair Project Ideas
    This site lists projects by category. Each category provides numerous ideas which you may use to develop a science fair project. Most are not fully developed projects, but just ideas and outlines. It is left to the student to fully develop the project.
  • The Ultimate Science Fair Resource
    Includes an idea bank and idea exchange.
  • Cyber-Fair
    Virtual science fair. Created for and by students in grades 3 through 6. Students and teachers the world-over are welcome to visit this site to:
    • read the results of student science fair projects
    • look for ideas for their own projects
    • share the results of their projects with other students

    The Experimental Science Projects Introductory and Intermediate Guides give good break downs on creating a project and include information for what to do when your project doesn't go as planned.

  • Chicago Student Science Fair
    Access the Quick Links pull down menu for specific sections for students, teachers and judges.

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