Finding an Adult Sponsor:
If you are interested in entering the Southern Utah Science & Engineering Fair, there are several things you need to do. First, you need an adult sponsor. This person is usually a teacher at your school, but a parent with a good science background, a professor, or any other adult with a good science background can also be an adult sponsor. You need to read the rules and regulations on the project, design your project, fill out an application form, and perform the project.
There are actually two separate science fairs with separate judging and awards. If you are in grades 5-8 you should enter the Junior Fair and if you are in grades 9-12 you should enter the Senior Fair. Only exceptional entrants from the Senior Fair are eligible to go on to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
Designing the Project:
The following guidelines are from the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Student Handbook.
First, pick your topic. This is perhaps the most difficult part. Get an idea of what you want to study or learn about. Ideas should come from things in your area of interest. A hobby might lead you to a good topic. What is going on in the world that you would like to know more about? Most importantly, pick a question or a problem that is not too broad and that can be answered through scientific investigation.
Research your topic. Go to the library or Internet to learn more about your topic. Always ask Why or What if…Look for unexplained or unexpected results. Narrow your thinking by focusing on a particular idea.
Plan your experiment. Give careful thought to experimental design. Once you have a feasible project idea, write a research plan. This plan should explain how you will do your experiments and exactly what will be involved. Remember you must design your experiment so that it is a ‘controlled’ experiment. This is one in which only one variable is changed at a time. The results are then compared to the ‘standard’ data you take originally before you change that one variable. Also, in your experimental design, make sure you include sufficient numbers in both control (if applicable) and experimental groups to be statistically valid.
The judges will primarily look for good science, but an original idea will peak their interest! Be creative! There is nothing wrong with using an old or often-used idea as a starting point for your project, but try to come up your own unique take on it. Starting with an interest or a hobby is a good way to avoid the same tired projects.