For a science fair, you probably want a catchy, clever title. Otherwise, try to make it an accurate description of the project. For example, I could entitle a project, 'Determining Minimum NaCl Concentration that can be Tasted in Water'. Avoid unnecessary words, while covering the essential purpose of the project. Whatever title you come up with, get it critiqued by friends, family, or teachers.
- Introduction and Purpose
Sometimes this section is called 'Background'. Whatever its name, this section introduces the topic of the project, notes any information already available, explains why you are interested in the project, and states the purpose of the project. If you are going to state references in your report, this is where most of the citations are likely to be, with the actual references listed at the end of the entire report in the form of a bibliography or reference section.
- The Hypothesis or Question
Explicitly state your hypothesis or question.
- Materials and Methods
List the materials you used in your project and describe the procedure that you used to perform the project. If you have a photo or diagram of your project, this is a good place to include it.
- Data and Results
Data and Results are not the same thing. Some reports will require that they be in separate sections, so make sure you understand the difference between the concepts. Data refers to the actual numbers or other information you obtained in your project. Data can be presented in tables or charts, if appropriate. The Results section is where the data is manipulated or the hypothesis is tested. Sometimes this analysis will yield tables, graphs, or charts, too. For example, a table listing the minimum concentration of salt that I can taste in water, with each line in the table being a separate test or trial, would be data. If I average the data or perform a statistical test of a null hypothesis, the information would be the results of the project.
The Conclusion focuses on the Hypothesis or Question as it compares to the Data and Results. What was the answer to the question? Was the hypothesis supported (keep in mind a hypothesis cannot be proved, only disproved)? What did you find out from the experiment? Answer these questions first. Then, depending on your answers, you may wish to explain ways in which the project might be improved or introduce new questions that have come up as a result of the project. This section is judged not only by what you were able to conclude, but also by your recognition of areas where you could not draw valid conclusions based on your data.
Neatness counts, spelling counts, grammar counts. Take the time to make the report look nice. Pay attention to margins, avoid fonts that are difficult to read or are too small or too large, use clean paper, and make print the report cleanly on as good a printer or copier as you can.
Do you need to make a poster or present your science project at a science fair? Here's how...