25 Science Projects Ideas From Easy to Hard
14 minute read
Science fairs can be invaluable experiences that help you explore a specific topic and also teach you the principles of scientific discovery. They also offer opportunities for you to showcase your creativity and can be a great springboard to further academic or career pursuits in STEM. An added bonus is that you usually have a finished product that you can proudly showcase to others and put on your resume.
However, it’s easy to get stuck on what science fair project to do as there are so many ideas to choose from. In this article we’ll go over 25 science fair project ideas that can hopefully provide some inspiration and also don’t require fancy or expensive materials.
1. How Different Types of Light Affect Vitamin C Content in Fruits
This project involves studying how different light sources affect the vitamin C content of fruits. You can expose samples of different fruits to varied light conditions, including natural sunlight, LED, and fluorescent light. Then, using some potassium iodide and a sheet of watercolor paper, you can measure the vitamin C content of the fruits. Here’s an article and video to help you with the vitamin C test.
Materials Needed: Fruits, light sources, 3% aqueous solution of iodine in potassium iodide, a sheet of watercolor paper, a cotton ball, a disposable plastic cup.
2. The Effects of Exercise on Heart Rate
This project investigates how different types of exercise impact heart rate. By measuring heart rate before, during, and after activities such as running, cycling, and jumping jacks, you can analyze how the heart and body responds to exercise and which movements push your heart rate the most. You can then do further research into the science behind why certain exercises lead to a higher heart rate than others.
Materials Needed: Stopwatch, heart rate monitor or pulse oximeter if you have one (if not you can just count your heartbeats)
3. The Aerodynamics of Paper Airplanes
Learn about aerodynamic principles by observing the flight of paper airplanes. By constructing paper airplanes with different designs, including variations in wing shape, size, and folding techniques, you can analyze their flight performance and see what design flies the farthest or is airborne for the longest. After testing, you can explore further by presenting why the top design did well based on theories of aerodynamics, and how you would make the design even better.
Topics: Aerodynamics, physics
Materials Needed: Paper, ruler, tape, stopwatch.
4. How Sleep Impacts Academic Performance
You can use yourself or your friends as test subjects for this experiment, where you analyze the correlation between sleep duration and academic performance. You can collect sleep data through your phone or a smart watch, and then have all test subjects take a test the next morning, and to repeat that for several days potentially. What’s important for this kind of experiment is that there are many other factors that could potentially impact test performance besides sleep, so in your experimental design you’ll have to think creatively to control other variables.
Topics: Psychology, neuroscience
Materials Needed: Phone or smartwatch, tests that you can give to subjects
5. How Urban Green Spaces Impact Mental Well-being
Conduct surveys or interviews in a city near you to assess the perceived benefits of urban green spaces (parks, gardens, etc.) on residents' mental health and well-being. Try to gain an understanding for why these spaces matter and how residents view them. How do parks and gardens impact the day to day life of city dwellers?
Topics: Psychology, urban planning
Materials Needed: Phone to record interviews
6. Design Your Own Hydroponic System
Construct a homemade hydroponic system using recycled materials and test its effectiveness. Hydroponics is soilless gardening that can be done either indoors or outdoors. Once you’ve made your hydroponic system you can then compare the growth rates and yields of the plants with traditional soil-based cultivation methods. Here’s an article on how to build a simple hydroponic, but we encourage you to also do your own research while building!
Materials Needed: Recycled materials, twine, soda bottle, other inexpensive materials
7. Mindfulness to Reduce Smartphone Addiction
Investigate whether mindfulness exercises such as meditation can help reduce smartphone addiction. You can choose to focus on a particular mindfulness exercise and/or participant demographic. You can then lead these mindfulness exercises for participants and also measure participants' smartphone usage over a certain period of time. There are a ton of different choices you can make in terms of designing this experiment, so feel free to be creative with it!
Materials Needed: Smartphones
8. Memory Enhancement Techniques
Compare the effectiveness of various memory enhancement techniques. You can start by researching popular techniques such as mnemonics, spaced repetition, and mind mapping so that you develop an understanding of how these techniques work. Then you can begin experimenting by gathering a group of subjects and creating a memory test. Remember to control other variables that could impact your data and carefully think through your experimental design.
Materials Needed: None
9. Build a Model Roller Coaster
If you’re a big fan of amusement parks this could be a great project for you. Design and construct a model roller coaster using materials like cardboard, foam tubes, and marbles. You can experiment with factors like height and angles to see what creates the most velocity for the coaster. Be sure to document how specific changes in factors affect the outcome of the roller coaster ride!
Materials Needed: Cardboard, foam tubes, marbles
10. Build a Model Suspension Bridge
Start out by sketching your bridge design on paper and looking up images of real suspension bridges for inspiration. From there you can begin to use your popsicle sticks and glue to construct the bridge. If you’re a bit stuck on how to prepare and construct the bridge, check out this Youtube video on how to build a suspension bridge. Once you’re done building your bridge you can then begin to test its stability and how it holds under pressure!
Materials Needed: Popsicle sticks or craft sticks (for the bridge deck and towers), string or thin wire (for the suspension cables), glue (such as wood glue or hot glue) scissors or craft knife, ruler or measuring tape, cardboard or sturdy base for the bridge foundation (optional)
11. Build a Wind Turbine to Generate Electricity
Through this project you’ll gain hands-on experience with learning about renewable energy. You’ll start out by designing the turbine blades and frame, then install the generator and wire the generator. Once you’ve built your wind turbine you’ll want to test it in an environment with sufficient wind speed and observe how much electricity you’re able to generate! You can also experiment with the shape of the frame and blades to see if that changes the electrical output.
Topics: Physics, engineering, renewable energy
Materials Needed: PVC pipes or wooden dowels (for the turbine blades), DC motor or small generator, magnets, copper wire, bearings or bushings, PVC fittings or other materials for constructing the turbine, wire connectors, multimeter (for measuring voltage and current)
12. Analyzing Different Water Purification Methods
What would be the safest way to purify water if you were out in the wild? Evaluate the effectiveness of different water purification methods (filtration, boiling, chemical treatment, etc.) and discover which method performs the best. To test the initial quality of the water samples, use pH strips to find the initial pH of the water. Then perform the water purification method and measure the pH after to see if there’s a considerable change.
Materials Needed: Water source, containers to hold water, filtration materials like coffee filters, boiling apparatus, pH test strips
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13. How Soil Moisture Affects Plant Growth
Experiment with soil moisture levels to see how it affects the growth and development of plants. An easy way to do this would be to buy a lot of the same plant and grow them all at the same time but vary the soil moisture for each plant. You can decide the increments for how much you want to vary the soil by and from there measure plant growth to see if you can find a correlation. This is also a great experiment to apply statistical analysis of your data.
Materials Needed: Plants, soil, water
14. The Impact of Light Pollution on Nocturnal Insect Populations
In this project you can first explore the concept of light pollution and what its effects are. From there you can research nocturnal insects and learn about their behaviors. The second part of the project involves conducting an experiment to see how nocturnal insect populations vary based on artificial light intensity. You can go to several different locations that have different artificial light intensities to see whether certain locations have a greater abundance of insects or a greater diversity. Keep in mind the tricky part of this experiment is how to collect the insects - there are various methods such as light traps or sticky traps that you can try.
Topics: Biology, zoology
Materials Needed: Plants, soil, water
15. Build a Solar Oven
Construct a solar oven using reflective materials such as aluminum foil. You can explore this article that explains step by step how to build the oven, but the basic idea is that you want to line the inner flap with aluminum foil so that the sun's rays reflect off of it and also create a small opening so that sunlight can come through. You can try heating up food in the middle of the day when the sun is directly overhead to see what happens!
Materials Needed: Reflective material like aluminum foil, insulation (foam board, newspapers), heat-absorbing container, thermometer, food items for cooking.
16. How Temperature Affects Battery Performance
Explore how temperature affects the voltage output and lifespan of batteries. Select a variety of different batteries and expose them to different temperature conditions. You can also vary the length of time that the batteries are left in a given temperature. After, use a voltage meter to measure the output of the batteries. How does temperature impact the voltage output?
Topics: Electrochemistry, energy storage
Materials Needed: Multiple types of batteries, thermometer or temperature sensor, voltage meter or multimeter.
17. Testing the Strength of Different Types of Paper
Compare the strength of various types of paper (printer paper, construction paper, tissue paper). To do this you can either measure the force required to tear each type of paper (tensile strength) or just observe how difficult it is to tear. Record observations and also analyze the materials used in each type of paper to hypothesize why the paper might be difficult or easy to tear.
Materials Needed: Different types of paper, ruler or measuring tape, weights or force gauge, clamps or clips.
In this project, construct your own basic pendulum with string and a weight, and see how the length of a pendulum affects its period (the time it takes to complete one full swing). You can also conduct trials where pendulums of varying lengths are released from the same angle, or vary the angle from which the pendulum is released.
Materials Needed: Pendulum apparatus (can be as simple as a string and weight), stopwatch or timer, protractor for measuring angles.
19. DIY Catapults
In this project you’ll explore the principles of projectile motion and trajectory. Build a simple catapult or trebuchet and investigate how launch angle and projectile mass affect the trajectory of a launched object. If you want to take the project a step further and add a history component to it, explore a few various catapults that were used in ancient or medieval times and observe the differences in their launch angles and typical projectile masses. Were these catapults effective?
Materials Needed: Catapult or trebuchet construction materials (wood, rubber bands, etc.), objects that the catapult can launch, measuring tape or ruler.
Explore the concept of friction by pulling objects across different surfaces and measuring the frictional force. You can investigate how different surface textures impact how easy it is to pull the object across the surface. To take the project to the next level you can share your findings about one real world application where the concept of friction is very important (think things like sports or transportation).
Materials Needed: Objects of different weights, various surfaces (e.g., wood, metal, sandpaper), force sensor or spring scale, ruler
21. Studying the Effects of Music on Stress Reduction
We all have our playlists or songs that help us relax, but how can we actually confirm that music actually plays a role in reducing stress? In this project you can conduct experiments where participants listen to different types of music (e.g., classical, jazz, nature sounds) and their physiological stress responses (e.g., heart rate, cortisol levels) are measured before and after listening to the music. Before conducting the experiment see if you can do some preliminary research on the topic and what other experiments have been done.
Materials Needed: A device to play, physiological monitoring equipment, stress assessment scales.
22. Ocean Acidification and Coral Bleaching
Study how ocean acidification, driven by increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, impacts coral reef ecosystems. You can also look into coral bleaching and learn how it’s also related to ocean acidification. This project can be a bit more focused on research rather than actual experimentation, but if you’d like to develop a model to demonstrate ocean acidification and see how carbon dioxide affects water we encourage you to do that as well.
Topic: Chemistry, marine biology
Materials Needed: Cups, water, acid base indicator, baking soda, vinegar
23. Studying the Effects of Deforestation on Local Climate Patterns
Learn how deforestation affects regional climate conditions such as temperature, precipitation, and humidity. Specifically, you can analyze satellite imagery to assess changes in land cover in deforested areas over time. To get you started, check out this article on how scientists have been tracking deforestation in the Amazon for decades.
Topic: Climate, environmental science
Materials Needed: Satellite imagery or aerial photographs
24. Investigating Sinkholes
Sinkholes may seem like a chaotic once in a lifetime phenomenon but there are actually geological processes involved in the formation of sinkholes. Explore these processes and their potential hazards to human settlements. To learn further you can research specific areas that are known to have a lot of sinkholes and try to understand why this occurs from a geological perspective.
Materials Needed: None
25. How Color Affects Mood and Emotion Description
Explore whether different colors influence people's mood and emotional state. You can design experiments where participants are exposed to different colors through images or objects and their mood responses are measured with self-reported scales or surveys. Analyze data and see if you can find any patterns. The more subjects you have in your experiment the better!
Materials Needed: Images or objects that show mainly one color
How to Showcase Your Science Fair Project
Once you’ve completed your science fair project you can obviously present it at your local or school science fair, but we highly encourage you to also enter your project and findings for a bigger competition. There are so many great regional and national competitions where you can submit your work, and we’ve compiled a list of them below based on science topic. Keep in mind that many of these competitions have very specific submission guidelines, so you might have to adjust the format of your project slightly to fit the rules
Still Stuck On What Idea to Choose?
Work with a Polygence research program mentor who can help you brainstorm the right idea for you. From there they can help you with executing your project and making sure you’re on track to finish by your deadline. If you’re interested, apply for our flagship mentorship program!
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