Presentation is Everything!

It´s one thing to be a great scientist and another to be able to explain your results. It´s true that a picture says a thousand words. Whenever possible, try to use visual cues to explain things to your audience.

One way to do this is with your science fair project display board. Try to make it clear without being boring. Although you will need to present all of your written work, it is a great idea to break up your written pages into easy-to-understand ´bites´

Did you know that the human brain will only take in three sentences before it gets bored?

Yep, just three. Breaking up sentences with white space is a good idea. You could also try a trick that book-publishers use. It´s called a Pull Quote. You take a small piece of your text and repeat it in big letters to emphasis it. Pull Quotes are a good way to break up slabs of text as well as make your point clearly.

Pull Quotes are a good way to break up slabs of text as well as make your point clearly.

As well as a good display board for your science fair project, you might like to keep a video diary of your experiment. Using the editing tools that come with most PCs, a short movie of your experiments progress is a fun way to share the work you have done. You can also use it to report your results – or if you have done a science fair project on rockets, gooey things, or anything with mess they are often just a good laugh!

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No two sets of fingerprints are the same – right?

You are probably used to hearing about criminals being caught by leaving their fingerprints behind at the scene of the crime. You are also probably used to the idea that your fingerprints are unique.

But what if they AREN´T unique? You could study this (or a bunch of other good questions for your science fair projects at our cool resource site).

In 1892 an Englishman named Sir Francis Galton noticed that the ridge marks in our fingerprints would split in very different ways. He calculated that the chances of having the same pattern in your fingerprints as another person is around one in 64 billion!

Funnily, 64 billion is about how many human fingers are on the planet right now.

Now, I don´t want to disagree with Sir Francis (I bet HE never got stuck on his science fair projects!), but unfortunately it´s never been scientifically PROVEN that all fingerprints are different. Now, proving something is almost impossible in science, but it´s a lot easier to DISPROVE something.

It only has to be wrong once to be disproved.

For example, in 1988 a lady named Nancy Kerry found two identical snowflakes. That means that the old saying ´no two snowflakes are the same´is… WRONG.

A tip for your science fair projects: stick to things you can DISPROVE or at least demonstrate easily! Trying to PROVE something is very very difficult as it must be right every time the experiment is repeated… even if you repeat it an infinite number of times!

Fingerprints evidence has been used to convict 22 people who were actually INNOCENT. And that´s just the people we know about! Fingerprint evidence is very valuable, but because it´s never been proven, it´s a bit dangerous to rely ONLY on fingerprints. If someone you know is ever called for jury duty, you can tell them a thing or two about fingerprints now!

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Aerodynamics and Spiders

Aerodynamics are all around us. Eveytime something moves through the air, aerodynamics play a part.

(If you are interested in the aerodynamics of planes, take a look at our great tips for your science projects)

But aerodynamics are not just for machines. Spiders create webs that have some pretty crazy aerodynamic properties.

Have you ever walked through a spider web? If you have, it´s not the greatest feeling, but it doesn´t hurt. You just bust straight through it. A flying insect doesn´t though – even though it should!

Catching a flying insect with a net whould be like trying to catch a brick with a Kleenex. But the clever spider has a few tricks up it´s er, sleeve. You can recreate some of the aerodynamics involved in your science projects.

An orb web is made up of a few parts that do different things. The strands that radiate out from the center are pretty brittle and rigid. They´re like the posts that hold up your house and only stretch about a fifth of their length before they snap.

But the SPIRAL threads (the ones that make that pretty round-ish shape) are a different story. They´re like sticky elastic and can stretch up to THREE TIMES its original length. They also hold a trapped insect like glue. But the strands are so thin, and the insects are so big (kinda!), so no-one could understand why the web wasn´t getting damaged.

Using the same cameras that record simulated car crashes at high speeds, scientists have solved the mystery. When an insect hits an orb web, the impact is limited by the stiff threads to only three spokes on either side.

This clever design means that only PART of the web takes the impact, leaving the rest of the web undamaged. Clever spiders!

Take a closer look at aerodynamics with our Fun Airplanes ideas for your science projects.

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How a torpedo works

In movies, you always see a torpedo (the long tube-shaped bomb) hit a ship, then there is a big BANG, a lot of fire and the ship starts to sink.

The way you see torpedos sinking ships in the movies might have been right 70 years ago, but that´s not how it is anymore.

Navy ships are designed with lots of different watertight compartments. This means that if something (like a torpedo) hits them, they just seal the damaged bits and the ship stays afloat. It might be leaning to one side like it´s drunk, but it will still float!

If you are interested in these rockets (because that´s what they are, they just go sideways instead of straight up!) you might like to know a few things about them for your science fair project.

So the people who make modern torpedos came up with some clever ideas. Take the Mk48 for instance. It packs a punch (about the same as a half-ton of TNT) but doesn´t need to slam into it´s target. As long as it is close enough, it uses sonar to aim for the centre of the ship. Then it DUCKS UNDER it. When it gets to about 30 feet under the center of the hull – this depth is really important – it explodes. All that explosive power becomes a HUGE gas bubble that rams into the underside of the ship at about 3 miles per second (that´s fast!).

This bubble bends the ship like a banana, but it´s not over yet. When the bubble shrinks again, it sucks the bent ship the opposite way, bending it again. Have you ever tried to break a bendy stick? You know how it works best when you bend it forwards then backwards, to weaken it? The torpedo does this to the ship. The hull gives out and the ship´s ´back´ is broken so now it can sink.

You can recreate all this at the science fair using basic rocketry principles. Just make sure it´s on a smaller scale and remember, SAFETY FIRST!

So once again, the movies are fun to watch, but not very scientific! Oh, and one more thing: There´s no red flames when a torpedo hits a ship… You only see the explosions in the movies because they look cool!

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What question should I ask for my Science Project?

You have to come up with a good idea for a science fair project but are a bit confused about what kind of question you should ask.

There are two really important tips for deciding: First, keep it simple. Trying to find out how the universe began is GREAT, but it is difficult to fit it all on to one science project display board.

You need to be in complete control of all the possible answers to your question. An easier question to answer would be ´What kind of water is best for plants?´

This one is easier as you can set up three of the same kind of plant in the same place. This is important! A good scientist tries to make sure that all their test subjects (the plants) have the same conditions, EXCEPT for the thing you are testing.

The thing you are testing is called your VARIABLE. Then you can water one with tap water, one with microwave water and one with distilled water. Take photos of the plants every day and write down anything you notive about them. After two weeks, see which one is healthiest. Easy!

The second tip is to choose a question that you can answer OBJECTIVELY in your science project.

The difference between OBJECTIVE and SUBJECTIVE is something that bothers scientists all the time. SUBJECTIVE is usually someone´s opinion. It´s difficult to test things like ´which hurts more – a paper cut or a bruise?´ because the only way to know is to ask people how they are feeling. Everyone feels things differently, so it´s hard to measure.

Things that are OBJECTIVE can be measured. For instance, if you are writing up your Plant Water science project, you can talk about how your plants grew X number of inches. This is easy for everyone to see. A good science project question will have only two or three possible answers (simple) and be objective (so everyone can agree on the results).

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