Quiz: Taking First Prize at the Science Fair -- on the Cheap

Staff

4 Min Quiz

Which of the following science fair supplies likely costs the most money?

Poster board lies at the heart of a project's presentation -- it's also a more expensive component. With today's varieties, make choices that will get the job done and save money. Making your own from cardboard might be worth considering, too.

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Using this resource can give you a leg up in finding science fair projects with less expensive materials.

When it comes to unearthing low-cost science fair projects, the Internet will give you a digital leg up. Head to a school or local library for a place to start if you don't have Internet access at home.

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What underlies all science fair projects?

Though it's possible to conduct an experiment poorly and use an expensive presentation to try to make up for it, the scientific method prevails above all else at science fairs.

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Which low-cost option helps your child's science fair project stand out from others?

Lights may be cheap, but they'll likely be distracting and make the display stand out in a negative way. Good luck finding a mariachi band that will cater to your science fair needs on budget, too -- unless the project involves music in some way. The best route would be using magazines and other reading materials your child referenced throughout the research process. They're both inexpensive and relevant to the project at hand.

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Even if projects are low-cost, putting together a poster board with the results costs some money. How can parents save even more cash on these necessities?

Hitting stores early in search of sales and comparing prices for supplies such as poster board, paper and markers will keep you under your budget for your child's project.

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Which of the following is NOT a common type of science fair project?

Watching educational TV programming may spark the next great idea, but it doesn't count as a science project itself. To get his head in the game, your child will have to craft and execute an experiment, invention or report of his own.

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What part of the house will most likely harbor the most low-cost science fair ideas?

There's plenty of experiments to be had in all three quarters, but the kitchen holds the most promise, mainly because of its abundance of ingredients and materials (and explosion potential).

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Energy consumption around the house has become a popular and less expensive area for young scientists to investigate. Which of the following experiments belongs in this category?

Requiring only a bathtub and yardstick, the bathtub versus shower setup belongs to a growing group of projects looking at home energy issues.

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Which substance commonly provides an inexpensive science lesson about non-Newtonian fluids at home?

Behaving as a liquid and solid, the gooey and viscous substance oobleck teaches kids about non-Newtonian fluids, or those with unusual shear properties. All that’s needed is corn starch, water, a bowl for mixing and food dye, if you please.

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Do resources exist to help students and parents with the costs of science fair projects?

Depending on where you live, some scholarships may cover costs associated with science fair projects.

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How can kids develop a deeper understanding of a topic while staying under budget?

Children's fascination with a topic predicts how hard they'll work on it, so you want to stick with what piques their interest. You don't have to take on new topics every year, either. Encourage your child to build onto an existing project or look at a different angle to the same problem.

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Which area offers plenty of low-cost project ideas?

Without certain equipment, you may find it difficult to study cell biology and atoms. Designing a behavioral project is as cheap and easy as asking classmates to partake in an experiment or observing animals in their natural habitat.

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One tip for low-cost science fair projects is to get outdoors and study nature. But can your child bring an animal with her to the science fair?

Most science fairs prefer that participants keep critters at home. But some make exceptions for small animals, including insects. Check with the fair's organizers for more details.

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One low-cost experiment involves creating an electric clock at home. Which parts may be lying around the house to use?

Science works in strange ways. The experiment, which requires a few basic metal materials and a small digital clock, also calls for an uncooked spud and America's least expensive coin -- the penny. After setting up an electrical circuit with the objects, the potato's natural acidity interacts with the penny's copper to complete one half of this natural "battery's" circuit.

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Social experiments are usually inexpensive, but probably call for which of the following?

Science fair students, like real scientists, should work to gain consent from people before including them in an experiment.

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How can you cut costs and present the experiment's log notebook that your child used in style?

To save money and time, guide your child to log his progress and data in a well-organized notebook from the start. Science fair judges want to see original work, and a well-kept log book is an excellent way to achieve this.

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At the largest high school science fair, many winners:

Slightly more high school students won while collaborating with registered research institutions than those who didn't, according to the Society for Science & the Public, the group that sponsors the fair. Even then, students likely saved money from using resources and equipment from labs.

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Being practical includes planning ahead and which of the following?

Interesting reading on the Internet may stand in the way of getting work done (we don't blame you), but make sure your kid sets aside reasonable time to begin a science project. Don't pick up supplies until you have an idea of what's being studied. Help your child pursue a project that meshes well with your family's time and budget.

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What's an easy experiment to do with friends in one day?

Memory tests make great one-day projects, but make sure to have materials and conditions thought out in advance.

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What percentage of high school science fair project winners don't rely on resources from local universities and labs?

Roughly 4 out of 10 winners in the United States' largest science fair forego collaborating with research institutions.

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Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Placing at the science fair doesn't have to put a hole in your wallet. Think you know tips to keep the cost of science fair projects down? Take this quiz to see if you're already penny-pinching enough or need an elementary refresher.

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