Parents - How to Help Kids Avoid Unworkable, Dangerous Science Fair Projects

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Be aware of what science fair projects are not permitted at a kid's science fair.

Curiosity is the cornerstone of the best science fair projects. After a Florida boy suffered vision loss in a BB gun accident, he began to wonder how optical illusions trick the eyes. He turned that question into a winning science project.

"While no one would recommend this as a way of finding a project topic, the boy's experience did lead him to design meaningful experiments and come up with answers to an important question," says Madeline Binder of http://www.

Parents… be aware that a child may not do a project that involves unacceptable physical or psychological risk, collection of tissue samples from living vertebrate animals--including drugging, pain, or injury--and use of dangerous or illegal materials.

Aside from prohibiting certain activities, parents who are coaching their children through the process need to know the kinds of topics that do not lend themselves to viable science fair projects. Here are some to avoid:

  • Any topic that uses equipment that does not allow you to accurately measure your data or repeat your experiments. Science is all about measurement.
  • Any topic that gives subjective findings, such as a taste comparison. You can do a survey for your science fair experiment if your school permits this type of project.
  • Any topic that asks participates to recall past experiences, unless you are testing people's memory. Human's recall is subjective and therefore your findings may be unreliable.
  • Any topic that is subjective presents a challenge to the investigator because the findings are difficult to measure, such as the effect of color on memory, emotion, mood, taste, strength, etc.
  • Any topic that has been done to death, such as the effect of colored light on plants. Several students do this project at almost every science fair.
  • Topics whose validity may be questionable, such as the reliability of handwriting analysis, numerology, birthday personality relating to the zodiac or ESP.

Where can your child find a science fair project topic that will hold his or her interest for the two to three months it takes to complete such a project? Ms. Binder suggests encouraging children to follow their own interests. For example, would your child rather take apart the vacuum cleaner or observe insects in the back yard? Study human beings or animals? Dig in the dirt or gaze at the stars? Analyze problems or invent solutions?

For science fair project ideas, science fair project kits and an e-book "Super Science Fair Projects Step-By-Step for a Winning Edge," go to http://www.


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