Filtering water is a common topic in middle school, as part of an ecology unit, or in the study of pond water, or when straight out studying how water filters work. Here is an idea for a simple experiment.
Recently, Google sponsored their first ever Science Fair and since they are Google, they were able to get plenty of great sponsors like National Geographic,Scientific American, Lego, and CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The age range for this event was 13-18 so there was plenty of room for grade 8 science fair projects as they fall into the age range.
Before you think that regular every day kids could never end up at Google, I want to share with you what the 13-14 year old division winners did for an 8th grade project, as proof that quick and easy science fair projects are just as good as the more complicated ones, and in fact they may even help you learn better science and win some awards to boot.
Lauren Hodge, from the USA, won the 13- and 14-year-old age group with her project about marinating chicken. Really! Her hypothesis was that using lemon juice in the marinade will decrease the amount of carcinogens released when cooking the chicken. See what I mean, a simple concept. It all boils down sometimes to how scientific the experiment was. In fact when you look at the Google judging criteria, it should look very familiar, as it is based on the steps to the scientific method to a tee.
They divided the entries into groups, 13-14 year olds, 15-16 year olds and 17-18 year olds, that came from all over the world. There were initially 7,500 projects entered, but not in a live science fair, their project write ups and a video presentation were submitted. Then a panel of teachers went through and rated each project initially on the powerpoint/video presentation, and then as they whittled it down on eight different scientific criteria, which ended up with 60 semi-finalists. The process continued until the top 15 were flown to the Googleplex where they presented their projects to an all-star panel of judges.
For the complete news article on this topic click here. http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-20078967-76/whip-smart-whippersnappers-at-google-science-fair/#ixzz1T7YnER49
Guess what was the make or break piece of the power point/videos? Which is what they used for the first cut….If the question, hypothesis and conclusion were clearly stated. Understanding and applying the scientific method is the core of all grade 8 science fair projects, and all other grades to boot!
With your local science fairs, that are also split into age levels, and the judges will be looking for the same eight criteria as the Google judges, which is all about how well you represent each step of the scientific method, and your enthusiasm, interest, research and quality of the display. Often the top middle school winners go onto a regional science fair, other places it is just self contained.
Now the 13-14 year olds won $25, 000 scholarship money, which a normal school could never do, and the top prize was $50,000. They also got the chance to do cool things the business partners brought with them, but the point is each one of these winning and often simple science fair projects started off in their own school science fair as won the opportunity to go further to regional fairs. At some point they decided or were encouraged to submit to the Google Science Fair.
So you never know how far your grade 8 science fair projects can take you!
Often, for a science fair, the teacher lets children experiment on their own, as they want their students to jump start their curiosity and look into the world they live in for problems to solve or answers to questions. Sure, it is a lot easier to do home science projects for kids when the teacher spoon feeds the project, tells you what to do and how to do it. It is better for the children to learn to observe their environment on their own and create their own projects. Easy one day science fair projects using everyday things are often a way for the youngest students with short attention spans to learn about how a science fair project works and get results fairly quickly. Even older students can benefit from experiments that can be completed in a short time.
Most science fairs expect the project to be investigatory in nature. Luckily, they are more fun and easiest kind to do. These follow along exactly in the steps of the scientific method: Observe, Question, Hypothesis, Experiment, Results. These experiments are the ones where you pose a question, then do a quick investigation which will prove or disprove your theory. These could be fun things like comparing the amount of citrus or Vitamin C in different fruits, timing how long it takes ice to melt in different scenarios, or you might see if the amount of whole wheat affects how long it takes bread to turn to toast. Older students might look at things closer to their interests, like seeing which hair products leaves the least residue, finding out how many germs are on their cell phones or putting pretty much anything in a box and dropping it from a high place, like a roof.
Another kind ofone day, home science projects for kids might involve a demonstration. These are more likely to be part of a class project and not part of a full science fair. For these you are demonstrating how to do something or showing the effect one thing has on another. Demonstrating what happens when you pouring a carbonated drink on a rusty battery, or how to make a solar tea cup heater would fit this category. This is where you will find kids pouring two liquids together to get purple smoke or create some kind of gooey ooze.
These short investigations or demonstrations can provide some oddball and fun looks at things we use everyday. Food is a popular topic and keeps the kids interest, particularly if the project can be eaten when finished! When you are given the opportunity to do a simple one day science fair project, take advantage of it and make it a fun and different twist to the things we see and use every day. Science fair projects can be such a great learning tool!
Here are some great home science project ideas that are designed to use everyday things and can be completed in 24 hours, or a weekend.
A special thanks to Sue Gnagy Fegan for her contribution of this science project article.