Merryhill Science Fair ( 6th/7th)

November 2017

Important Dates / Overview

All links to the components are posted on under "Downloads"

All work should be typed.

Important Dates:

6th grade: Monday, November 13 ( 102 points)

7th grade: Tuesday, November 14 (102 points)

Early submission: ( 2 points)

6th grade: Monday, November 6th

7th grade: Tuesday, November 7th

Why do we do Science Fair at Merryhill School?

The following statement is excerpted, with thanks, from the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair Web site:

"Why do I need to learn this stuff?"

A science fair project is the ultimate answer to the often asked student question: "Why do I need to learn this stuff, anyway?"

It integrates, into one functional activity, virtually all of the skills and arts that are usually taught separately (sometimes not at all or without obvious "purpose") in many schools. When brought to completion, the project is an amalgamation of reading, writing, spelling, grammar, math, statistics, ethics, logic, critical thinking, computer science, graphic arts, scientific methodology, self-learning of one or more technical or specialty fields, and (if the project qualifies for formal competition) public speaking and defense in front of expert judges. It is, perhaps, the only educational activity that allows students to teach themselves, to take from the established information what they need to discover something exciting and new, and to identify and choose the tools that they need to conduct and conclude their project. When a student completes a science fair project, year after year, through junior and senior high school, the science fair process yields mature, self-confident, skilled, and competitive young leaders who have career goals and the preparation, discipline, and drive to attain them.

Merryhill Science Fair Overview:

As our Science Fair is scheduled to be in November, I wanted to take some time to go over the details.

Science Fair consists of four components overall: Proposal, Experiment, Research paper (Abstract included), and the Display board.

Testable Question/Hypothesis/Proposal: Fill in the form and submit. Look for details in the "Science Fair Details" section.

Write a Proposal in detail and submit it to me. Make sure to fill in the form, print it out and submit. The form has to be signed and dated by a parent. If the students are working in a group, the form has to be signed by one parent per child.

The proposal will be returned back to the students with comments. If they have to redo, they will be told so.

Experiment: The experiment for the Science Fair has to be conducted at home. Make sure to keep track of the due dates and submit the components.Save all the work on your computer.

The students can work with the grade level students individually, a group of two, or group of three. Please make sure that they choose their partners wisely. They will be working together throughout the project and may need to go to each other's houses depending on the logistics.

Research Paper ( Abstract included): All the components of the Research Paper are posted on under downloads and also as a link in this SMORE. Each component is explained in detail ( in red). For example: If they are working on Background Research, the explanation about the topic is given in red. The student will erase all the red words and start typing the background research for their experiment.

Start working on other components. Look at the due dates for each component submission. Please look at the Research paper Template and also the Rubric.

Everything has to be typed for the project. The entire report has to be placed in a Report cover ( found at Target, Wal Mart, Staples)

Each component has a different due date and has to be submitted on time to get full points. All due dates are also posted on

Display Board: This should be done after the experiment is completed and the student has everything ready to go. The size of the board cannot be smaller than 3 feet by 4 feet.

Very Important: Please remember that the project has to be grade level and needs to have a measurable endpoint ( units need to be in metric system). I will work with the students to make them understand the independent/dependent variable and also measurable endpoint.

The students can definitely look for the projects on the web but can also take a concept and build on it.

Writing Abstracts/Display boards/Resources for Students/ Discouraged projects/Engineering projects

Writing Abstracts:

Look at the article below on "How to write an Abstract?"

How to Write an Abstract

With thanks to Phil Koopman, Carnegie Mellon University

Checklist: Parts of an Abstract

Despite the fact that an abstract is quite brief, it must do almost as much work as your talk, project display board, and notebook. This means that it should include the sections that follow. Each section is typically a single sentence, although there is room for creativity. In particular, the parts may be merged or spread among a set of sentences. Use the following as a checklist for your next abstract:


Why do we care about the problem and the results? This section should include the importance of your work, the difficulty of the area, and the impact it might have if successful.

Problem statement:

What problem are you trying to solve? What is the scope of your work (a generalized approach, or for a specific situation)? Be careful not to use too much jargon. In some cases it is appropriate to put the problem statement before the motivation, but usually this only works if most readers already understand why the problem is important.


How did you go about solving or making progress on the problem? Did you use simulation, or analysis of field data? What was the extent of your work? What important variables did you control, ignore, or measure? Do not copy your procedure.


What’s the answer? Put the result in numbers if possible (% is good.) Avoid vague results such as “very,” “small,” or “significant.”


What are the implications of your answer? Is it going to change the world (unlikely), be a significant “win,” find something interesting, or simply indicate that this path is a waste of time. (All of the previous results are useful). Are your results general, or specific to a particular case? What did you learn?

Sample Middle School Abstracts:

Display board:

Make a Display board and be ready to present your project.


Good Luck!

Resources for Students:

Discouraged projects:

Avoid Science Fair Projects Unlikely to be Accepted

  1. Effect of colored light, music, or talking on plant growth (OK at middle school if variables included)
  2. Crystal growth (OK at middle school if variables included)
  3. Effect of cola, coffee, etc. on teeth (OK at middle school if variables included)
  4. Effect of music, video games, etc. on blood pressure (OK with variables and 10 people per group)
  5. Strength/absorbency of paper towels (discouraged because seen often)
  6. Most consumer product testing of the “Which is best?” type (OK grades 6–9 only)
  7. Astrology projects
  8. Maze running (unless there are variables and controls).
  9. Any project that boils down to simple preferences.
  10. Effect of color on taste.
  11. Optical Illusions
  12. Reaction Times (OK with variables and 10 per group)
  13. Detergents vs. Stains (OK at middle school if variables included).
  14. Basic solar collectors or ovens (OK if engineering design variables included)
  15. Acid rain projects (To be considered, thorough research into the composition of acid rain and a scientifically accurate simulation of it would be necessary.)
  16. Basic flight testing, e.g., planes, rockets (OK if variables are included)
  17. Battery life comparisons (plug-in and run-down type)
  18. Any project involving the distillation of alcohol. (NOT PERMITTED)
  19. Pyramid power
  20. Color choices of goldfish, etc.
  21. Basic chromatography (OK at middle school if variables are included)
  22. Wing, fin shape comparison (OK if mass is taken into consideration)

Avoid Projects that Lack a Measurable Endpoint

Results should be expressed in units of growth, size, mass, speed, time, volume, frequency, replication rate, chemical product analysis, etc.

Avoid Overly-Common Projects

The following projects may meet all requirements but often do not win awards because they are too commonly encountered by judges. With frequently done projects, acceptance may be granted if they have an original twist with exceptional thoroughness and solid scientific method.

  1. Comparison of plant growth in different fertilizers
  2. Rusting of nails in different pH solutions.
  3. Comparison of strength in different bridge designs.
  4. Strength of paper towels.

Projects Taken from the Internet

Projects taken directly from the Internet are considered plagiarism, and may be disqualified. Judges may identify projects similar to examples posted on the internet and they will be ranked low for creativity. Examples of projects from sites such are good sources of inspiration, but the idea for your projectshould be original.

Engineering Projects:

Engineering projects involve creative problem solving, and they are not hypothesis testing. Each engineering design , software application or device project should have a clear engineering goal which can fit the following model statement:

“The design and construction of a (engineered product) for (target user) to do (some useful function).”

Where can you get project ideas? You may get suggestions from teachers, advisors or mentors. Be sure to use the web (,,, for inspiration, however your idea should be original. Quality entries from previous fairs are good sources of ideas and best practices. Some high school technology curricula address the engineering design process (, and many college and professional engineering societies have on-line resources.

You will use the engineering design process to create your fair entry. This process is typical of those used by practicing engineers; the definition of terms and the number of steps may vary, but these are “essential steps.” Your very first step is to start a project notebook in which you will record every step of your process and the results of your design efforts. The process is iterative, meaning the designer will often repeat steps until he or she is confident the design will meet the needs. Note: the terms product, invention, project, design, and solution are often used interchangeably in Fair Guidelines.

The Engineering Design Process:

  1. Define a need; express as a goal
  2. Establish design criteria and constraints
  3. Evaluate alternative designs
  4. Build a prototype of best design
  5. Test and evaluate the prototype using the design criteria
  6. Analyze test results, make design changes, and retest
  7. Communicate the design

Step 1. Identify a need

The need (also called the problem you are solving or the Engineering Goal) is frequently identified by customers–the users of the product. The customer could be a retail consumer or the next team in a product development. Customers may express needs by describing a product (I need a car) or as a functional requirement (I need a way to get to school). The need should be described in a simple statement that includes what you are designing (the product), who it is for (customer), what need does it satisfy (problem to solve), and how does it improve previous designs (easier to use, less expensive, more efficient, safer).

Step 2. Establish design criteria and constraints

Design criteria are requirements you specify that will be used to make decisions about how to build and evaluate the product. Criteria are derived from needs expressed by customers. Criteria define the product’s physical and functional characteristics. Some examples of criteria are shape, size, weight, speed, ruggedness, and ease of manufacture. Constraints are factors that limit the engineer’s flexibility. Some typical constraints are cost, time, and knowledge; legal issues; natural factors such as topography, climate, raw materials; and where the product will be used. Good designs will meet important design criteria within the limits fixed by the constraints. Good designs are also economical to make and use because cost is always a design constraint!

Step 3. Evaluate alternative designs

Your research into possible solutions will reveal what has been done to satisfy similar needs. You’ll discover where knowledge and science limit your solutions, how previous solutions may be improved, and what different approaches may meet design objectives. You should consider at least two or three alternative designs and consider using available technology, modifying current designs, or inventing new solutions. Superior work will demonstrate tradeoff analyses such as comparing the strength vs. cost of various bridge-building materials. It’s important to document in your project notebook how you chose and evaluated alternative designs. Can you defend your choices to the judges?

STOP! You must complete an Application Form and obtain approval from your teacher BEFORE you build your prototype. Many engineering design projects will require preapproval from the SRC, particularly if you will involve humans in your product testing. See the SRC approval decision tree in the Handbook.

Step 4. Build a prototype of best design

Use your alternative analyses to choose the design that best meets criteria considering the constraints, then build a prototype. A prototype is the first full scale and usually functional form of a new type or design.

Step 5. Test and evaluate the prototype against important design criteria to show how well the product meets the need

You should develop a test plan describing what you will test, how you will test, and how you’ll perform analysis. You must test your prototype under actual or simulated operating conditions. Customers are usually involved in product testing so be sure you have SRC approval if people are involved.

Step 6. Analyze test results, make design changes and retest

Testing will disclose some deficiencies in your design. Sometimes the testing fails completely and sends the designer “back to the drawing board.” Make corrections and retest OR prepare an analysis of what went wrong and how you will fix it. As always, document your analyses, fixes, and retests in your notebook.

Step 7. Communicate the design

The designer’s real product is the description of a design from which others will build the product.Use your notebook and the fair exhibit to communicate the design to your customer and the judges. Your product description will be conveyed in drawings, photos, materials lists, assembly instructions, test plans and results. Consider listing lessons so future designers need not repeat any of your “frustrations.” You’ll have clear instructions on how to produce your design, along with production cost estimates.

Step 8. Prepare

Prepare your engineering project exhibit board. See the Handbook Information pages forProject Display Rules and Helpful Display Hints for a successful project board.

Synopsys Championship 2017 Winners

Merryhill Students have been participating in Synopsys Championship for the last 8 years. Here is a list of winners in the last couple of years.

Link to our Winner list for 2015:

Link to Winner list for 2016:

Link to Winner list for 2017: