Science Fair: Engineering & Design


  • Check back.  I will moving resources here soon.

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If you are planning to do an engineering project (as opposed to a scientific method project), pay close attention to these guidelines.  There are far less resources for engineering and design projects than there are for a scientific method science fair projects.

The Engineering Project Notebook was adapted from a hand out by Peter A’Hearn at the Science Fair expo hosted by the Riverside County Office of Education in October 2012. Please print the following with the section header/title on the top of a blank page.  This is to have room to fill in the details of your project:


This notebook is where you record your rough draft that shows what you did.  Do not erase anything — put a line through any mistakes, then include it in your project binder.  Your project board is final draft — neat and error free.

For the final draft type the information from the rough draft and print out in two different projects.   One print out will go directly into the project binder.  The other print out will go on the project board.


What is a need that you have identified?  It might be something that already exists that you think you can improve.  It might be something brand new that people would like or find useful.


Use books, the library, or the Internet to learn more about what has already been tried.  Write down what you have discovered IN YOUR OWN WORDS.  Do not copy something and attach it!  Be sure to tell where you found your information!


Design criteria is where you put limits on your design. How much it should cost, how fast will it be, how much will it weigh? Use numbers so you can measure and plot onto a chart.  Try to be realistic and think about who will be using your design.  In your CONCLUSION you will compare your prototype to your DESIGN CRITERIA to see if you met your goal.


Make some labeled drawings of your ideas.  Make sure to include labels for size and materials.  This is brainstorming, so you should have many ideas, even if you don’t end up building them.   Try to show at least five designs.


Select a design and build a prototype to test.  Which design did you build and why.  If your prototype is safe and small enough, you may attach it to your board.  If not, take pictures and attach them to the board.


What did you use to build and test your prototype.


You need to test your prototype to see if it meets your criteria.  If you are improving an existing design, you need to make sure the test is done as a fair test.  In a fair test one thing is changed (experimental variable), and other variables are carefully kept the same.  If you are testing something brand new, then you need to test it to see if it meets your design criteria.  List the steps a person would need to follow to do the experiment.  Make sure your procedure is “fair.”  Have you controlled all the variables or could there be many different reasons for your result?


Write down the data as you do the tests.  This should be rough draft and NOT EDITED.  Use a data table to keep your data organized.


Create a graph or graphs to make your data easy to understand.  Use graph paper and a ruler to make it neat.  Use color so it’s easy to read.


What happened in your tests? Tell about the data and the graphs.


Explain if your prototype met or did not met the design criteria of your experiment.  Provide clear results (a good project DOES NOT have to meet the DESIGN CRITERIA!).  Explain what you learned by doing this project.


How would you like to change and improve your design?  For a simple prototype, you might include several redesigns and re-tests with data in your project.  For more complicated projects you will want to explain what you would like to try next.


Who helped you with the project and what did they do to help?  Be detailed and specific, it is okay to get help on you project, but judges don’t like to have to guess what the student did and what the adults did.


Where did you get your information for your research?  List the books, magazines, or websites that you used.

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