The science fair is an opportunity for middle school students to broaden their knowledge of the scientific world. It is also a leaning opportunity for students that can be very exciting and involving due to the hands-on nature of the middle school science fair projects themselves. Science fair projects teach students not only about science, but also about the accountability to keeping deadlines and meeting goals. Here is an authoritative guide to several middle school science fair projects that students can pursue.
Middle School Science Fair Projects
Behavioral Science Project on Worms and Light
This behavioral science project on worms and light aims to find out if worms respond differently to various colors of light. Purchase a worm habitat, and record all the kinds of worms inside. Put light shields over top of the habitat and record the worms’ reactions. Now, insert different colored transparencies over the clear areas of the worm habitat to test the worms’ different reactions to different colored light streaming in. Record all the observations, and repeat the experiment three times to be sure it was done properly.
· Crystal Clear Science Fair Projects: Instructions on completing the above experiment successfully.
· Science Kit: Website from which to buy the worm habitat.
· Scientifics Online: Another website from which to buy the worm habitat.
Comparing the Learning Abilities of Hamsters and Mice
This experiment aims to figure out if hamsters and mice are capable of recalling what they learned. Start by making a maze that measures 100 centimeters by 200 centimeters out of cardboard boxes. Make sure the height is 15 centimeters to keep the hamsters and mice inside. Put some sunflower seeds at the end of the maze, and make the hamsters and mice start the maze separately. Record how long it takes for each creature at a time to locate the food. Continue this project for a total of 10 times and once each hour; make sure to continue recording the observations.
· All Science Fair Projects: Procedure on how to do the science fair project with the hamsters and mice.
· Petsmart: Retail website offering a choice of different hamsters.
· MiceDirect: Retail website that sells live mice over the Internet.
The air cannon science fair project aims to create a makeshift cannon from which puffs of air emerge. All it takes is a bucket, a plastic bag and a rubber band. Cut a hole into the bottom of the bucket, and then cover the bucket’s top with the plastic bag (you should stretch it tightly). Hold the bag in place by using the rubber band. To successfully complete this cannon, pound on the drum (the plastic bag) to make air escape from the hole in the bucket. See if you can take aim at various objects with this air cannon.
· PBS Kids: Instructions on the air cannon experiment above.
· Amazon: Purchasing information for the bucket needed for this experiment.
· Home Depot: Retailer from which to buy the plastic bag.
This magnetic strength experiment’s purpose is to determine how two magnets’ strengths can be compared. Begin by taking a compass and laying it on a wooden table; position it so the north pole of the needle points at the case’s N marking. Put one ruler beside the compass on its western side while placing another ruler along the eastern side of the compass. Lay down one magnet on the compass’ west side so that it is at the six-inch mark of the ruler. Put the other magnet down on the compass’ east side so that it is also at the six-inch position of the other ruler. Witness the positions of the needle of the compass and record the results.
· Education.com: Full instructions on how to complete the aforementioned science fair project.
· Sears: Purchase information for the bar magnet that is necessary.
· Staples: Buying information for the plastic rulers necessary in the project.
The purpose of this science fair experiment is to juxtapose the colors of insects collected in two, different locations. All that’s required is a sweep net to collect insects in a grassy field; after you’ve collected said insects, place them in a sizable jar. Now, proceed to another location, a forest, to look for insects that will be picked off by hand from the ground. Bring the project to a successful conclusion by recording the different colors of the insects collected at each location. Compare and analyze the results.
· Encyclopedia Smithsonian: Exact instructions on how to do the Camouflage Comparisons project, featured on the web page’s fourth paragraph from the top.
· Alibaba: Trade/retail website on which to buy the required sweep net.
· Blain’s Farm & Fleet: Website from which to buy the jars to store the insects.
Moving Water, Moving Blades
The purpose of this science fair project is to create a smaller model of a real-life water turbine. Proceed by taking a cork and then taping sticks of cardboard on it. For axles, stick pins into the cork’s end; then fashion a U-shaped holder for the model water turbine. Place the whole structure into a water stream, and then marvel at how the cork (the makeshift turbine) turns based on the speed of the stream.
· Country Porch: Online store that sells the needed cork for the project.
· Artist Supply Store: Sells the necessary cardboard for this experiment.
· Reach out Michigan: Procedure on how to go about making the small water turbine model.
As far as science projects for middle school go, this one is one of the simplest, yet still demonstrates the principle of neutral water being attracted to a charged comb. Start by running a stream of water from a tap so that it emerges about one-eighth in width. Take the comb and charge it by rubbing it several times over a sweater. Position the comb near the water in order to see it "bend" towards the comb.
· Science Made Simple: This is Project 2 in the long article about static electricity.
· Neiman Marcus: Buying information for the comb needed in this project.
· Cabela’s: Retail website for the sweater needed to charge up the comb.
Grow Your Own Mold
This science fair project relates to creating an environment where you can grow mold. Using a cotton swab, collect dust on one end of it. Spread the dust from the cotton swab onto a slice of bread and add six drops of water on said slice. Place this slice of bread into a sandwich bag; place the bag, in turn, inside an empty carton of milk. Wait for the mold to grow, but write down a record of how long this process takes.
· Albertsons: Website from which to purchase bread for the project.
· Saks Fifth Avenue: Place from which to buy the required cotton swabs.
· Instawares: Online website that sells sandwich bags for the mold project.
The goal of this science fair experiment is to make a functioning battery out of a potato. Start off by making a voltaic cell; stick one copper wire and one zinc nail into opposite ends of a potato. The negative terminal of the potato-battery will be the zinc nail, while the positive terminal will be the copper wire. Connect the voltmeter to the voltaic cell you just made by joining the positive terminal of the voltmeter to the copper wire and the negative terminal to the zinc nail. The voltage that is recorded at this time is the open-circuit voltage. Record the voltage again after employing the wire jumpers to join a resistor over the battery terminals.
· Science Buddies: Details the above experiment of making a battery of a potato.
· Safeway: Place to buy the potato that is needed.
· Buy.com: Location to buy the voltmeter for the above project.
The point of this science fair experiment is to demonstrate the power of acid rain to eat away at rocks in nature. To demonstrate this natural phenomenon, simply begin by placing chalk in one glass of lemon juice, another piece of chalk in one glass of vinegar, and finally more chalk into a glass of normal tap water. Check the result of erosion on the chalk over the next few days, and record the results. This experiment will prove that acid rain eats away at rocks in nature, just like the acid in the vinegar and lemon juice quickly dissolved the chalk.
· Bill Nye the Science Guy: Details and step-by-step instructions for this project.
· Brands Palace: Online store to buy the chalk.
· The Web Restaurant Store: Store from which to purchase the vinegar that is required.
This science fair experiment will allow for the viewing of sunspots through a man-made telescope. Begin by taking a shoebox and puncturing a hole into an end of it. Hold the end of the shoebox with the hole in it up to the sun. You will then see the sun’s image projected onto the opposite end of the shoebox. Not only will you spot the sun as a full disk in this way, but you will also be able to see little, black specks on said disk, which represent the sunspots.
· Mad Sci Network: Procedure on how to do the above experiment on sunspots.
· Organize.com: Place to buy boxes for the experiment above.
· World of Knives: Online store used to buy the pocket knife to puncture the hole in the shoebox.
Outrageous Ooze is a science fair project designed to get students familiar with what chemists call a colloid; this substance behaves like a liquid and a solid at different times. Begin by putting cornstarch into a bowl, including a few drops of food color, and then finally pouring some water into the bowl. Combine the mixture with your fingers until the powder becomes all wet. Continue to add water until such time when the Ooze feels like a liquid when stirring it. After some time, attempt to tap on the Ooze with a spoon, which should feel solid at that point. Attempt other experiments with this Ooze by resting your hand on its surface, or trying to squeeze it between your fingers in order to see what form it takes next.
· The Better Health Store: Place to buy the necessary cornstarch for this experiment.
· Spice Place: The place to buy your food color.
· Exploratorium: Website that has all the instructions for this science fair project.
Of Pen and Ink
In this science fair experiment, middle school students will be taught about the writing utensils of the colonists, who used local plant material. Start by putting crushed walnut shells and water into a saucepan, which should be brought to a boil. Simmer until the water evaporates; then, remove the newly produced ink to let it get cool. Strain said ink into a jar, where salt and vinegar will be added as preservatives. Take a feather, dip it into the newly made ink, and write something.
· The Franklin Institute: Details on all the necessary equipment for the above experiment.
· Sam’s Club: The site on where to buy the walnuts for the above project.
· Crate and Barrel: Website to buy the necessary saucepan for this experiment.
Iron in Cereal
This science fair project involves calling attention to how much iron is present in the human body. Begin by emptying a whole box of cereal into a bowl and crushing the flakes into pinhead-size pieces. Pour water into the bowl, and stir until the mix is soupy and thin. Take the glass rod and tape a small magnet to its end. After stirring the cereal soup with the magnet and rod for some minutes, small pieces of pure iron will collect on the magnet. The cereal from the iron is actually the same kind as in nails.
· McRel: All the instructions for the above science fair project.
· Meijer: Location where cereal can be bought for the demonstration.
· Hobby Linc: Website from which to buy the rod for the stirring in this project.
Principles of Flotation
In this science fair experiment, middle school students will learn about the principles of buoyancy. All this straightforward experiment requires is clay and a sink full of water. Using two, separate pieces of clay, fashion them into a boat-shaped object and a round ball, respectively. Now, put both pieces of clay into the sink full of water, and record what occurs to each piece. It will be observed that the boat-shaped piece will float because more water pushes up against it.
· Reeko Science: Includes all the directions to recreate the above experiment.
· Create for Less: Place at which clay can be purchased for the experiment.
· Buoyancy: A scientific explanation of buoyancy for further reading.