18 Easy Science Fair Projects For Kids
Last updated: January 27th 2017
Though some of us are more naturally inclined towards the sciences than others, we all have the ability to learn more! When children are interested in science their math skills are also above average and they are more likely to show passion for other subjects as well. Sometimes some independent exploration can go a long way in cultivating a lifelong love of science in a child, though sadly few people seem aware of how rich and intricate the world of science really is. These classic science fair projects are an excellent opportunity for children to delve deeply into the world of science and explore topics that interest them. Getting your child to enter a science fair might be the first step in cultivating a lifelong love for the physical world.
Exposure to hands-on science from an early age has enormous benefits for children. Because learning is a process we undergo our entire lives, kids will continue to build on the solid foundation of knowledge they gain early in life from attending science fairs. And because scientific knowledge is cumulative, these first steps of exploration may well be the beginning of a successful science career someday. But of course, the most important part of any science project is to have fun! These projects aren’t supposed to transform your child into a scientist overnight- rather they are meant to pique their interests and get their creativity flowing in regards to the way they interact with the world around them. And that’s why this article is focused on easy science fair projects for kids.
Finding inspiration for science fair projects is easy these days Simply look online and you will quickly be overwhelmed with the available options out there. Pictures, project ideas and videos are all resources for you to utilize. Most sites go through projects with step by step instructions, making it easy for you and your child to follow along.
Parents often get frustrated with the difficulty of helping their kids with science homework, but the internet makes it easy for you to help out even if your high school grade in chemistry still makes you cringe. Instilling a love of science from an early age, whether for a school project or simply for fun, can be an enormously rewarding way to supplement your child’s education and have a good time while doing it.
Even more important, having fun with science at home often translates to better performance in the sciences at school. When learning is fun, a passion for discovery will be carried over into the classroom and might even lead to better grades. But don’t make that your goal; make your goal creating a lifelong passion for discovery. Take the time to learn about your child’s interests and find science projects that tap into those interests. Involving them in the process of choosing the projects will help them discover their own interests along the way.
Best Places to Look for Science Fair Project Inspiration
Science fairs have surged in popularity because they give a much needed hands on way for kids to explore scientific concepts. Most fairs are held at the end of the marking period, so serious students often start around the winter holidays! March, February and April are all common months for fairs to be held, mainly because it keeps students occupied with school work even as the year winds down. The pressure to perform mounts when awards and prizes are on the line!
The best place to look for science fair project ideas is right at the front of the classroom- the science teacher. Teachers are a wealth of information about project ideas. Elementary school teachers heavily guide projects for their students, but as students get older they are given more independence in the classroom. In contrast, high school students are expected to be more creative and independent with their projects.
In elementary school, science fairs often revolve around a theme or scientific concept. Volcanoes, gravity, states of matter, air pollution, plant and animal cells, weather, evaporation and the solar system are all common themes. In these cases, students are usually sent home with a packet of ideas, a specific list, or occasionally the exact project they are expected to do.
If these materials aren’t provided, teachers are still a great resource for getting started in the right direction. Oftentimes searching for and choosing a project is part of the learning process for students, though teachers are happy to provide guidance and a little inspiration.
Teachers can direct parents to kid-friendly projects that prevent parents from getting over involved in the process. No one wants to be that parent, the one that secretly does the entire project for their child, so being intentional about selecting a project your kid can comfortably handle is an important first step.
Top Tips for Science Fair Success
It doesn’t have to be a big chore to research quality science projects. Though you might feel pressure to out-compete every other family in your child’s class, keep in mind that the end goal is to promote science and experiential learning.
The most important step for science fair success is Project Selection.
Choose a project that is a good fit for your student’s grade level to ensure they can do the project with minimal help from adults.
Choose a project with clear, concise instructions. Getting lost in the middle of a project is no fun, so make sure your kids know what action steps they need to follow. Projects with visual instructions and mini successes along the way will keep your child engaged and encouraged.
Choose a project that allows you to use common household objects and keep it simple. Biology, physics and space projects are usually a safe bet. Using supplies you already have on hand keeps costs down and allows your child to use items they are familiar with, minimizing frustration about what she needs to do.
It’s never fun to enter a science fair and see seven of the same project, so confirm that the project unique by finding slightly obscure projects. Don’t select the first option you see on Google- odds are other families will be considering it as well!
Though the internet is a marvelous tool, lots of information can still only be found in hard copy, so be sure to make use of your library. Looking in books is a great way to discover a gem of a project that others are sure to not copy.
Follow these five tips and you are setting your child up for science project success. But don’t forget the main point- learning and having fun while doing it.
How To Help Kids Select Science Fair Projects
Considering the amount of science fair projects available, selecting the right one can be the hardest part of the whole process. Taking an unorganized approach to project research can lead to frustration and a lot of wasted time. Brainstorm before you research about the topic you might be interested in, and begin your research within that category to narrow down the options.
Follow these basic steps for selecting the perfect project.
– For Elementary Schoolers: opt for simple, easy to do projects.. Kids at this age are curious and ready to explore, but their short attention spans mean they will lose interest if a project gets too complicated. Look for easy, highly engaging projects.
– For High Schoolers: look for projects with increased complexity that require proper utilization of the scientific process.
– Give your child project autonomy. This encourages them to do their own deep research and will leave them more prepared to talk about their project at the competition. Don’t select projects that require lots of outside help from adults.
– Select projects that your child finds interesting! It’s much harder to complete projects that aren’t engaging, and your child will learn far less this way.
– Don’t select projects with a long time frame. Attention spans are short, and a project that gets dragged out for weeks will fail to hold your child’s interest.
Following these rules will help you land a project that will allow your child to shine.
Best Tips for Project Presentation
The following tips are provided to help people that are looking for the best ways to present their research at a science competition.
– Compile your ideas: giving an effective presentation requires having all your notes and thoughts together in a coherent way.
– Put your project in order: start the research process in order to find effective models that can be used to depict your ideas. Parental supervision is often required in this part to get kids thinking in the right direction.
– Review your results: Building the project is just one step in process, analyzing the results is equally important. Review your results to see if they are satisfactory or whether the project needs to be tweaked in any way to achieve a better result.
It may seem difficult to find a science project that is easy for more your child to accomplish with limited supervision, but there are a wide range of projects available at all grade levels for children to choose. Fostering a love of experimentation requires the time to tinker, so back off and let your child explore for herself!
Science Project Ideas
Here are eight cool projects that illustrate different concepts for your kids.
This is the process of fluid converting to a vapor.
A fun, quick experiment is to take two pieces of fabric and soak them in water, being sure to press them out well. Place one in a plastic bag sealed with tape, and place the other on a plate. Leave both fabrics in a warm place and check on them the next day and make predictions on which one will dry first. The material in the bag will stay wet a lot longer because the water isn’t able to evaporate into the air, while the material on the plate can escape into the air through evaporation, thus drying it out.
Variation: repeat this experiment, but place one material in a cold spot and one in the sun or near a wind source and watch how wind can accelerate evaporation.
You can make connections from this project to other ways that evaporation effects our daily lives. What time of day is best to water the garden? How long do puddles last after a rainstorm?
This is the force that draws two items to each other. Gravity is what keeps us on the ground, what causes items to fall, and why the moon stays where it is in the night sky.
Illustrate the power of gravity with this simple experiment using paper clips and magnets. Drop paper clips and watch gravity pull them to the ground. Next use magnets to see how easily gravity can be overcome!
3. Build a Volcano
It’s a classic for a reason, as even adults get a thrill from the chemical reaction of baking soda and vinegar. Look through the project section of this article for more tips on this exciting experiment.
4. State of Matter
Investigate the transitions from solids and fluids by making rock candy as explained in the project section.
5. Plant Cells
These solid, boxy cells appear so different from our own. A simple microscope with prepared slides will start your child on the investigative process of understanding what makes a plant work.
Weather science fair projects are always a hit, and they teach concepts that we experience every time we step outside! All you need is your backyard to start to study the impacts of precipitation, freezing and heating, and even snow and hail.
7. Air Pollution
Take an environmental perspective to science and look at the ways our lifestyles are is impacting the very air we breathe.
8. Water Cycle
Simulate the hydrogen cycle with simple experiments that highlight the processes of accumulation, evaporation, condensation and precipitation.
Easy Science Experiments Expanded!
Here are ten more simple science projects that are perfect for school age children.
1. A Volcanic Explosion
A big appeal of this classic experiment is that it is easy enough for kids to do by themselves. Extremely hands on, this project requires kids to assemble and paint a volcano in advance. A common recipe is 6 cups of flour, 2 cups of salt, 5 tablespoons of oil, and 2 ¼ cups of water combined together to form a dough. Wrap the dough around a water bottle that is filled half way with warm water and a few drops of food coloring. After the volcano dries it can be painted. Make lava by mixing 3 teaspoons of soap with 2 tablespoons of baking soda and vinegar. Mix the soap and baking soda together thoroughly and place them in a bottle of warm water. When it’s time to erupt the volcano, pour the vinegar into the volcano and stand back to watch the reaction!
A fun variation is to add a pulley system that release the vinegar, rather than doing it by hand. Add a small bowl to the middle of the plastic bottle and attached by a string. Add vinegar into the bowl, and pull the string when you are ready for your reaction to form. The vinegar will fall into the baking soda and you’ve got lava!
2. Blow Up a Balloon
There are ways to blow up a balloon relying only on chemical interactions, no pump necessary. You will need a new balloon, a small glass or plastic bottle, a funnel, baking soda, and vinegar. Make sure the bottle is clean and dry inside before you begin. Insert the funnel into the opening of the balloon and carefully pour 2 tablespoons of baking soda into it. Set it aside, being careful to not spill. Next, measure and pour half a cup of vinegar into the bottle. Stretch the balloon over the end of the bottle and fasten it securely. Don’t spill any baking soda into the bottle until you are ready. Once the balloon is in place, lift it up to drop the baking soda into the vinegar and gently shake the bottle. The chemical reaction that forms will create an expanding gas that will quickly fill up the balloon. You can repeat this experiment many times by simply adding more baking soda.
3. Rock Candy
Satisfy any sweet tooth with this fun science experiment. And the best part comes after the experiment, when a delicious treat has been created. You will need several open mouth jars, sugar, water, food coloring, string and pencils. Make sure to start this experiment up to a week before the actual fair. Begin by tying several inches of string onto each pencil, leaving enough on the edges that it hangs down into the jar. And one cup of sugar to the hot water, stirring the mix until the sugar is dissolved completely. Add more sugar to the mix until it is completely saturated. Place the strings into the sugar mixture, using the pencils to support them over the jar. Make sure the string stays in the middle and doesn’t touch the edges of the jar. Keep bugs and debris out with plastic wrap over the opening of the jar. Leave the jar alone for several days and you will start to see sugar crystals forming. Remove the strings and candy from the jars to use as a science fair display!
4. A Potato Battery
Astound the crowd by turning a simple potato into a battery. You will need a large potato, a penny, a steel nail and a multimeter. Choose a new shiny penny for this project to better conduct electricity. Using a knife, cut a small penny-sized hole into the potato and insert the penny deep inside until only a small edge is visible. On the opposite side insert the steel nail until only the head is visible. Be mindful to not have the penny or nail touch because that will negate the currents. Use the multimeter to touch black and red wires to the penny and nail to slow voltage. The device should read that your potato is conducting a current. Connect a small light or clock to your potato and watch it power up with a real potato battery!
5. Homemade Goo
Goo is easy to make without adult supervision. Only two ingredients are needed: cornstarch and water. Add a little food coloring for visual interest if you desire. Make the mixture at a ratio of ½ cup of water for every 1 cup of corn starch. Mix the two together with a small spoon or wooden Popsicle stick and get playing. This goo is super satisfying to play with and adds a tactile element to a science fair demonstration when you leave bowls out for the audience to play with. Goo illustrates the differences between states of matter. Participants can guess whether the mixture is a solid or a liquid before your child explains it is a non-Newtonian fluid that acts outside the three known states of matter. Your kid will impress and in all likelihood the audience will learn something in the process!
6. Tornado in a Bottle
Simple but interesting, the tornado in a bottle is another classic science fair project. An empty, clean soda bottle is best for this experiment. The larger the bottle the better, because the experiment will be able to be seen better. The basic version requires only water and a bottle, but consider adding more elements like bubbly soap, glitter, or small toys for visual interest.
Add water to the bottle until it is ¾ way full, screw on the cap and turn the bottle upside down. Spin the bottle in a circular motion until the water swirls around into a tornado. This project allows more artistically inclined children to also express themselves.
7. Homemade lava lamp
Quick and easy to build, lava lamps require little beyond common household objects. Lava lamps can be made with glass jars, water, food coloring and vegetable oil, and they work best when there are several colors of food coloring in each jar.
Pour warm water into each glass jar until they are ½ way full. Next, measure out the vegetable oil and add three tablespoons to each jar. Add food coloring of your choice. Mix the substances together so that the food coloring is evenly mixed with the oil, and then watch as the coloring refuses to mix with the water and instead forms globs of colored oil throughout the jar. The bigger the jar the more visually impressive this experiment will be. This experiment highlights the ways that water and oil molecules won’t mix because of the differences in their polarity levels.
8. Dry Ice Bubble
This experiment is perfect for older kids because self-restraint is needed to keep their hands away from danger. For this experiment, you will need dry ice, water, soap, gloves, a small washcloth, and a larger washcloth or towel. Look for dry ice at any grocery store. Because dry ice is extremely cold, it can burn flesh when touched so be extremely careful when handling this project.
Place an old towel on your work space and put a bowl on the towel. Place a large piece of dry ice into the bowl. Carefully pour cold water over the ice, being careful not to splash any. Fill the bowl about half way and mix water and soap together in a separate bowl until bubbly. Submerge a small washcloth into the soap and carefully rub it around the inside edge of the large bowl with dry ice on it. Repeat this several times until you start to see a reaction. Within a few seconds a large bubble should form over the top of the entire bowl, growing until it is almost the size of the bowl, then popping into a smoky mist. You can repeat this cool visual for as long as the dry ice remains fresh.
9. A Rubber Egg
An ordinary chicken egg can be turned into a rubber ball with this unique science project. Fresh or hard boiled eggs will work, though hard boiled are less likely to make a mess. Make sure to cool your hard boiled eggs thoroughly before beginning.
Eggs and vinegar are the only ingredients for this experiment. Fill a bowl partway with white vinegar until it is deep enough to cover the egg. Place an egg in the bowl and secure a lid or plastic wrap over the bowl. Leave the egg undisturbed for 1-2 days, then unwrap the bowl and carefully remove the egg. Wash and dry it thoroughly, and you will notice that the vinegar has completely dissolved the shell, making the egg bouncy and rubbery. Add food coloring to the vinegar for an extra visual surprise at the science fair.
10. Ant Farm
Insect behavior is readily observable directly from an ant farm. Ants are particularly interesting to watch because they are always doing something. Ant farms can be easily constructed from a glass container and soil, or you can buy one ready-made at any hobby store. Purchase ants from a pet store or carefully harvest your own from the great outdoors. Just be sure to handle your specimens gently. Place the ants into the farm and watch as they begin to tunnel through the soil. Observe their behaviors and take careful notes of what you see. Add food sources like leaves, bugs and blades of grass to keep your colony thriving. Present your research findings at the fair and display your ant farm for everyone to see.
No matter what project your child decides to experiment with, you can be sure they will have a lot of fun doing it. Self-esteem will flourish as your child discovers what it feels like to complete an entire science project on their own. Their confidence in the abilities and talents will improve, and they will gain understanding about the world around them.
You can help this process by taking time to talk to them before, during and after the science fair. How did they feel about their project? What did they learn? What could be improved for next time? Talk to them about other ways that the scientific method can be applied to change elements of their experiment in order to get different results. Make sure to also ask them what was most fun about their project. Science fairs present an excellent opportunity to open a discussion about science with your child it is is a great way to establish a love of questioning the world around them. Children walk away from a science fair experience full of confidence and new found knowledge.
Kids will love working with these projects because they have control over their own experiments, while teachers love the passion that develops in children when they try things themselves. Parents get the benefit that their kid brains are expanding and new hobbies might be getting developed.
But above all else, make sure the student takes ownership of her own project. Parents that do the work for their children are cheating them out of a valuable learning experience about independence and seeing a project through. By successfully completing a science fair project from beginning to end, a child is learning how to take responsibility for their own learning.
And that’s better than any first place finish.