Three Great Physical Science Fair Projects for Middle School: Density, Gas & Decay

Where to Begin

Middle school students are required to complete science projects for school fairs or classroom grades. Questions arise on topics and level of difficulty. Selecting physical science topics allows students to explore familiar scientific phenomenon. Here are some potential ideas for great projects.

Does Gas Have Mass?

The invisible phase of substances known as gas are often viewed as mysterious. Some gases are visible while others are basically undetectable. As we watch water become steam and float away into the air, it conjures the question, does gas have mass? In other words, does gas itself take up space and have weight? Create a simple project on the truth or denial of this question.

Tools for the project include a scale, clear container with lid, water and effervescent tablets typically used for relief of indigestion or cold and flu symptoms. Paper and pencil records the results. Write your proposed answer to the question and begin. Add a small amount of water to your container and weigh on the scale. Record these results as the constant for the project. Add your effervescent tablet to the container and cover tightly. When the bubbles cease, weigh the container again and record your results. Answer your initial question.

Write your report for the project describing the process and the results. Be prepared to repeat the process during the presentation phase.

This type of middle school science project is graded dependent on the repetition of the results and getting the correct answer to the question. Due to the simplistic nature of the project, be sure your report is as detailed as possible and add information on various types of gases in the introduction.

Density of Liquids

When you are shopping in the grocery store and happen upon the salad dressing isle, take note of certain bottles appearing to have more than one layer contained within. When you shake the bottle, the substances mix, but when held still, they begin to separate once again. The oil in the product is settling to the bottom while the other liquids are rising to the top. This is an example of the concept of density. Density is easily turned into a whimsical middle school science project to draw the attention of onlookers and gain high scores for creativity.

You need a small clear measuring cup or graduated cylinder. Collect small amounts of cooking oil, water and rubbing alcohol. Mix bright food coloring into the water to discern it from the alcohol. Decide which of the products is most dense, and list the others in descending order to pose your theory. Pour each of the liquids, at room temperature, into the container slowly, one at a time. Allow a few minutes for separation to occur. Record your findings. Write a report on the results and give an explanation. Repeat your project for grading. Those watching will be amused by the color separations which occur during the process.

The Process of Decay

The natural process of decay is found in all areas of our lives. From leaves rotting in the fall to the forgotten tomato on the window sill, the process occurs without our assistance. Finding the reasons and showing the stages makes an interesting science fair project.

Select an item for your project. Fruit and other food items without preservatives typically decay faster and are therefore quicker to work with. Propose your theory on the time for decay of the item. Research the process of decay and discover the microbes and other elements involved. Take a picture of your item daily and record any signs of decay. After a while, the signs will include turning colors. Note these various colors and research for possible reasons this is occurring.

On the day of the fair or grading, present the pictures on a display board complete with your daily notes written underneath. Include all project information from your discovery phase in your report. The time and research required for this middle school science project will typically earn you kudos with the judges.