Winning Science Projects for Middle Schoolers

There are science projects – and then there are winning science projects. Every middle schooler knows the difference. Crank up the Youtube version of Thomas Dolby’s She Blinded Me with Science, contemplate where you might keep your winning ribbons, and choose this demonstraion that will be the envy of all the newbs at your school:

Biodegradable Plastic
a. You can make plastic in your kitchen by heating 2 cups of milk almost to the boiling point and added 4 teaspoons of vinegar.
b. Stir as curds form and drain into a colander over a glass bowl. Let cool and mold it with your fingers until it’s a dough-like consistency.
c. For a winning exhibit, display pictures of every step of your plastic making. Compare the decomposition of your plastic with petroleum-based plastic (anything you can buy!) like a plastic comb or a small plastic toy by burying each piece in flowerpots filled with wet potting soil. Observe each piece after 1 week of being submerged.
d. Record your findings. The natural plastic you made in your kitchen should show signs of decomposition while the manufactured plastic would remain unchanged…just dirty!
e. Document everything!! Mount the 2 types of plastics on your display board. Label, label, label.
f. Draw your own conclusions. What will happen in a world where few things are biodegradable?

If the judges have a passion for the environment and earth science (and most scientists do) your project will be proudly perceived as thought-provoking and pivotal in prompting people to protect the planet. Platinum pondering, dude! For more great ideas and tips to inspire winning science projects, go to Middle School Science Projects!

Five Types of Science Projects

It it just me who thinks that science projects were easier in grade school? Back then, you could turn in a replica of a volcano, a coke bottle that spews, or just a science report on plants. In middle school, everthing changes. Middle School science teachers want creative ideas, specific project elements, in depth research, and detailed logs of the whole science fair process. They talk about stuff like independent variables and control groups.

Finding a middle school science project that lives up to our teachers expectations has always been a challenge for our family. We were required to do an experiment based, investigative project for the science fair. There are five types of science projects, but most internet sites and books had projects that were actually demonstrations or models. It’s very important that you read the directions from your teacher and/or the science fair, and make sure that the project your child chooses fits into the right category – especially in middle school.
Bald Egg Science Project
Here are the five types of projects.

1. Investigative projects – Most science fairs require students to submit an investigative science project. This type of project has an experiment that tests an hypothesis. The experiment will follow the scientific method, and may require a control group. (If you’re unfamiliar with this vocabulary, check out the free resource below!)

An example of an investigative project would be “How does salt affect the boiling point of water?” This can easily be tested by our experiment which adds different amounts of salt to water and recording the temperature at which it boils.

If you see the words experiment, scientific method, control and/or variable on the project instructions, you’ll probably need an investigative project. As mentioned before, they’re not easy to find. (Hint: We’ve got a whole pack of investigative projects at 24 Hour Science Projects…)

2. Demonstration projects – In this type of project a student demonstrate a scientific principle, and lots of time the teacher wants it presented in front of the class as an oral report. There is no true experiment performed, because there won’t be a control or different variables.

3. Research project – Basically this is a science report. Students research a topic, and write what they discovered. Any type of science topic can be used for a research project.

4. Models – For a model project, models are built to explain a scientific principle or structure.

5. Collections – In this type of project a collection of objects is displayed to give an overview of a topic. An example would be a rock collection or a display showing pictures of various animals in a specific family.

Every middle school science fair will have slightly different criteria for projects. As you search for a project, make sure it’s the type of project your school requires. If you need help, check out “The Non-Scientist Parent’s Guide to Science Fair Projects“, which has guides for all the different types of science projects – including the experiment based ones! There is a vocabulary list that gives simple definitions to those vocabulary words you learned in middle school, but promptly forgot.

Believe it or not, science projects are designed to help students learn about science. Figure out which type of project your school requires, and you’ll be one step closer to showing your child how much fun science can be!

Find all sorts of science projects with our excellent guides, including middle school science projects.