Now, each school is different and nothing guarantees a first place science fair win. But I am happy to share the girls' third grade science fair project idea and basic steps. The project was based on their fall science curriculum, which may have earned bonus points with the judges. The project was controlled and fully documented in the science fair project log. In addition, their board was attractive and neat.
Stupendous Soil Absorption
(that happened to win first place!)
a third grade science fair project
Please keep in mind that these are basic steps. Don't simply copy; make sure your child learns something as they work!
Science Project QuestionWhich type of soil will absorb the most water?
Science Project Materials16 oz plastic cups with small holes drilled into the bottom
12 oz plastic cups with NO holes
Different types of soil - for example, clay, peat moss, loam, potting soil
The girls used dark loam from Indiana (thanks to family), Georgia backyard "clay", and a bag of peat moss from the home improvement store.
1/2 cup measuring cup
1/4 measuring cup
A blank notebook to write all procedure, observations, tape in photos, etc.
Science Project Procedure:--Parent, drill the same # and size of holes in the bottom of a few 16-oz plastic cups. You will need 2 cups with holes for each type of soil you are testing, in order to test each twice.
--Must start with dry soil (ask your child why this is important; make them think about it and include it in the logbook). So, begin by putting any moist soil in a pan and into a 375-degree oven until it feels completely dry. Once all soil is dry and cool, you can begin testing.
--Place 1/2 cup of dry soil in one of the cups with holes. Place that cup into one of the smaller cups without holes so the water can collect.
--Pour 1/4 cup of room temperature water into the soil. Wait a specific amount of time (must be the same time for each sample/test. We used 5 minutes.)
--Measure the amount of water in the collection cup. Use the logbook to record all observations about the soil and the amount of water measured.
--Repeat this process for each soil, taking photos for your display and recording all observations in the logbook. Test each soil at least twice, making sure it is dry for each test. If one soil gets two very different results, it needs to be tested again for a conclusive observation.
--Which one absorbed more water?
--What other observations did you record?
--Is the soil that absorbed the most water necessarily the best one for plants? (in our case, the girls did not think so. One soil absorbed all the water, but it became a super thick and sticky mass. They decided that the #2 soil which absorbed most of the water would be better - because it stayed loose and looked like a nice rich soil with nutrients.)
--Be sure to take lots of photos along the way! Be neat and tidy with your board and include as much information as you can. Explain what you learned.
Good luck! Third grade science projects can be really fun and are a fantastic learning experience. Win or not, participating is a valuable opportunity to think, test, and observe.