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Idea 1) Growing Plant Projects
Some of the simplest elementary science fair projects involve growing plants and then changing the conditions under which they grow. For example, students can rub Vaseline under the plants’ leaves to see if it impedes growth, and then research or discuss why this might happen.
Alternatively, they may water one plant with water, one with orange juice, and one with nothing at all. They may decide to put one in a dark cabinet, one by a window, and one on a partially shaded shelf to compare the results. (See this article for other plant-growing experiments.)
Whichever experiment they choose, it is important for them to use fast-growing plants, such as radishes or bean plants. They also may want to wait for the plants to reach a certain height before starting the experiments so that they know that the seeds germinated correctly and somewhat equally. These science experiments are great for students who enjoy measuring things and inserting information into charts; they can measure the plants each day and chart their growth.
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Idea 2) Study of Air Pollution
Elementary school students are often interested in pollution and the environment around them. To tap into this interest, students may wish to study the differences in air pollution in various areas. They can do this by making “pollution catchers" from small pieces of cardstock covered in Vaseline and hung from various places around their neighborhood. For example, they might hang one in their backyard, one near a busy intersection, one in the schoolyard, and one near a local factory. (Students can hang their “pollution catchers" from trees, telephone poles, or other safe and public objects.)
After a few days, students can take data by collecting the “pollution catchers" and counting the number of visible specs of pollution they see on each one. They can then see whether the places they would have guessed contained more air pollution actually did.
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Idea 3) Music and Memory Experiment
Does classical music truly improve memory? Elementary school students can do a science fair experiment to figure out if this is true. They’ll need to put together a memory test of some sort, such as one with word pairs, in which the tester says one word and the subject must remember the second word in the pair (e.g., table-shoe, bike-telephone, snow-baby).
Then they can test various subjects after giving them ten seconds to learn the word pairs – some with classical music playing in the background, and some without it. They can then examine the differences in the scores of the two subject groups.
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4) Testing Ramps and Friction
For students who enjoy learning how things work and working with their hands, the best elementary science fair projects might be those that relate to physics. These students may decide to build a large ramp and to slide blocks down the ramp with various items taped to their bottoms.
For example, they might put sandpaper on one block, wax paper on another, cardboard on a third, and silky fabric on a fourth. They can then compare the time it takes for each block to slide down the ramp and fill in the results on a chart.