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2014 Magnet Science Fair Project http://fremontsciencefair.weebly.

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When youre scientifically literate the world looks very different to you and that understanding empowers you. Neil deGrasse Tyson WHY SCIENCE FAIR? Many of the most important issues that confront modern society have science as their foundation: climate change, globalization, nuclear proliferation, health care, online privacy just to name a few. Being an active participant in our democratic process means more than just going to school and getting an education, you must also be scientifically literate. This is the purpose of science fair: to increase scientific literacy and to teach you to view the world from a scientific perspective. Over the next few months you will undertake your own scientific investigation of a topic of your choosing. You will ask a question and design an experiment to discover the answer to your question. However, scientific literacy is about more than just answering a question; it is about how you view the world. The most important part of your science project is not answering your experimental question, but rather the process of answering the question. What steps have you taken to ensure that your experiment is scientifically valid? How can you be sure that the result of your experiment actually reflects reality and is not simply the result of random chance or coincidence? The goal of science fair is to improve science literacy and to teach students to think scientifically. Are you ready for the challenge? PROJECT OVERVIEW The science project has four components: (1) writing an experimental question, (2) designing an experiment to test your hypothesis, (3) writing a report which documents your experimental results, and finally (4) presenting your project for peer review at the science fair at the end of April. Each component of your project will have a deadline and will be checked off by your science teacher. The final grade you receive on your project will be included as part of your grade for your science class. You will be allowed to work with only one partner on the project. Groups of three or more are not allowed. The only requirement is that your partner must be taking the same science class as you. 1. EXPERIMENTAL QUESTION DUE: Friday, February 7 Reflect back on what you have learned so far this year in your science class. Were there any topics that you found particularly interesting or anything you would like to study further? This will help guide you in coming up with an experimental question. The question must be something that can be answered through an experiment and it must be based on a state science standard from the science class you are currently taking. If you are having trouble coming up with a good question, talk to your science teacher! Your question must be approved by your science teacher by the date shown. 2. RESEARCH AND EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN DUE: Friday, February 28 Your experimental design is the most important part of your science project. Your design must be approved before you start your experiment. Designing a good experiment is about more than just trial and error. You must take great care to minimize any sources of error so that your experiment is an accurate representation of reality. This means identifying your experimental variables. The
Magnet Science Fair - 2014

independent variable is controlled by you, the experimenter and the dependent variable is observed to change in response. All other variables must be constant, such that they do not affect the experimental outcome. More information on experimental design will be forthcoming at our next meeting, after you submit your experimental question. In addition to your experimental design, you must provide evidence that your design is based on scientific principles. To do this, you will write a paper (at least 1 page) about the scientific theories which relate to your experimental question. The point of this research is not to answer your experimental question, but rather to inform your experimental design. The experiment you perform should either verify currently accepted scientific theories or uncover new knowledge from them. 3. PROJECT REPORT DUE: Friday, March 28 After performing your experiment you will write up a lab report which completely documents your entire experiment. The report will start with an abstract, which is a brief overview of your experimental question, your hypothesis, and your experimental findings. Next the report will include a summary of the background research you performed on your topic. After the research section you will provide a detailed explanation of your experimental procedure which outlines every step you took to perform the experiment. The idea is that your descriptions are precise enough that anyone in the world can reproduce your experiment by following your procedure. Finally your report will include a detailed outline of your experimental results including charts and graphs of your data. You must analyze the experimental data and draw conclusions from the data. Most importantly, in your analysis you must demonstrate an understanding of how experimental errors were addressed and whether or not your experimental results are reliable. A more detailed explanation of the report will be forthcoming at a future meeting. 4. FINISHED PROJECT DUE: Friday, April 25 One of the most important steps in the scientific process is peer review. This means having other people look over your experimental results to see if there are any flaws with your experimental design or in the analysis of your experimental results. Anytime an experimental results contradicts a known scientific theory there are two possibilities: either the theory is wrong or there was a mistake with the experiment. Peer review is a crucial step to ensure that our experimental results are valid. This is how we ensure the accuracy of our scientific discoveries! We will accomplish peer review by holding a science fair here at Fremont on Friday April 25. Everyone will be required to create a poster presentation of his or her science project. The poster will include all the information from your report as well as pictures, diagrams, or pieces of your actual experiment. There is a very specific layout for your poster that you must follow. CONCLUSION Above all else, the science fair is supposed to be a learning experience! If at any time you are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged about your project please seek out the advice of either Mr. Kepple or Mr. Zepeda. Dont forget we are here to help you! My hope is that we can work together to increase our scientific literacy as well discover something new about the universe we all live in. Science is a collaborative enterprise spanning the generations. We remember those who prepared the way; seeing for them also. We can do science and with it we can improve our lives! Carl Sagan