Science Fair Rubric

Science Fair Rubric: 150 points total  PRINT THIS

Student Name __________________   Circle One: Group Project   Individual Project

Project Title: __________________________________________________________

PROJECT REPORT Binder: (100 points) 

Ultimately the final written report containing all of the parts below will be due on March Monday March 26th or a severe reduction in the grade will result.





This is a 2" ring binder w/ pockets front and rear.  Include the following sections in this order:


Binder Front Pocket:  Place the Science Application approved by SRC in the front pocket. 


Title Page: The title page bears the title of your project in the center of the page, several inches from the top. Do not place student names or school names on this document.  Anonymity is required to prevent judging bias.  Do not number this page.


Table of Contents Page:  Do not number this page. 


Abstract Page: Begin numbering the pages consecutively beginning with the abstract as page 1. Your research paper begins with an abstract, however the abstract is written after you’ve written the rest of the report sections. The abstract must not be greater than 250 words and it includes portions of the other report sections.  So though it appears first in the report, it is written last.

Rules for writing abstracts:

Avoid use of pronouns (I, we, our, my…)

Write in past tense 3rd person style

Single space, 10 font, indented

* THE FIRST sentence should restate the purpose of the experiment

* THE SECOND sentence should restate your hypothesis

* THE THIRD sentence should restate your null hypothesis

* THE FOURTH-FIFTH sentences summarize the procedure including how you established the control (this is NOT a list…use sentences)

* THE SIXTH-EIGHTH sentences summarize the data, including the statistical analysis and error analysis (this is NOT data tables…use sentences to explain the findings)

* THE NINTH-TENTH sentences summarize your conclusion being sure to mention whether the results supports the hypothesis or null hypothesis and reference your statistics here that support your conclusion. 


Statement of Purpose, Hypothesis, or Null hypothesis Page:  The purpose includes your original testable question.  The hypothesis is generally written in an “If…, then… format.  The null hypothesis states that the variable will not have a measurable effect and the outcome is unrelated to the variable.  Note: if your project is in the category of "Engineering" follow this link for the substitution for hypothesis and null hypothesis


Introduction/Research Rationale Page:  The introduction restates your clearly formulated and testable hypothesis as well as explanation of your idea, how you got it and why you think the work in interesting and important.  Include what you hoped to achieve when you started the project.


Variables Page: These changing quantities are called variables, and an experiment usually has three kinds: independent, dependent, and controlled. The independent variable is the one that is changed by the scientist. In an experiment there is only one independent variable. As the scientist changes the independent variable, he or she observes what happens. The dependent variable changes in response to the change the scientist makes to the independent variable. The new value of the dependent variable is caused by and depends on the value of the independent variable.  The number of dependent variables in an experiment varies, but there is often more than one. Experiments also have controlled variables. Controlled variables are quantities that a scientist wants to remain constant, and he must observe them as carefully as the dependent variables.  Some people refer to controlled variables as "constant variables."


Review of Literature (5-15 pages) This section of your paper is your report to the readers of work and research conducted by others in the past that relates to your topic and facts that help introduce the readers to the topic.


Research Materials and Procedure Pages(s):  List the materials that you used. Then explain step-by-step what you did in your experimentation. If drawings will make it clearer, draw them on separate pages and include them in this section. Explain any materials that you constructed in detail.


Discussion Page(s) Explain the exact process by which you reached your conclusions after comparing the control and experimental variables. Look at your graphs and data tables before you write this section.  This section should flow logically so that the reader can easily follow your train of thought.  Compare your data with the null hypothesis, what you would have expected if the observations you made were completely unrelated to the effect you were expecting, or to your hypothesis, the predicted results. 


Conclusions Page:  Work out your statistical analysis before you write this section.  Summarize your results referring to your statistical and error analysis. Be sure to mention whether the results support the hypothesis or null hypothesis.   MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT INTRODUCE ANYTHING THAT WAS NOT ALREADY MENTIONED IN THE PREVIOUS PARTS OF YOUR PAPER.


Recommendations Page(s): Describe what you would do differently if you were to do this project again. 


Acknowledgments Page(s):  Give credit to everyone who assisted you.  This may include businesses, individuals, educational or research intuitions.  Identify any financial support or material donations you may have received.


References Page(s): There are two sections to this: 

(1) WORKS CITED, the bibliography of works mentioned or quoted in the body of the report. See this link  for how to do this


(2) BIBLIOGRAPHY, includes all of the sources you used to do background research and to write the literature review.  This page is in  Modern Language Association (MLA) format See this link for the correct format:


Data Tables:  Data from an experiment must always be presented in a form that allows the results to be readily communicated to other scientists.  Give each Table a number and a descriptive title and all columns are labeled with units of measure.  The independent variable (or variables) is placed on the left.  The dependent variable (or variables) should be placed to the right. 


Graphs: Always use an accurate title for the graph.   If you don’t know how to make graphs on the computer using Excel, then be sure to use graph paper to plot the points accurately.  Always record the independent variable on the X- (horizontal) axis and the dependent variable on the Y-(vertical ) axis.  Space intervals evenly along each axis, and plot data points only at coordinates where data were collected.  Set the maximum values on both axes slightly above the maximum values of the data.  The data should never extend over most of the graph’s area. 


Statistical Analysis:  Examples for representing your analysis of data on the following Link  :

This would include somethings as simple as the mean, median, mode, standard deviation etc.


Error Analysis: Students often assume that each measurement that they make in the laboratory is true and accurate.  Likewise, they often assume that the values that they derive through experimentation are very accurate.    However, sources of error often prevent students from being as accurate as they would like.  Percent error calculations are used to determine how close to the true values, or how accurate, their experimental values really are. Examples for representing your error analysis of data on the following and   and the most comprehensive


Procedures Modifications page: On this page you'll note the modifications that were made to your procedure w/ notes on when and why each occurred.  These will of course be noted also in your log book.



Photographic Index page: Numerical list of all photographs that are found in the "additional photographs" section below


Additional Photographs:  (It is best to place these into picture mounts or plastic sleeves to prevent damage or loss.) You will have certain photographs (enlarged) placed onto your display board *note: select a few photos that will: a) prove you did the experiment b) show the before and after results  c) support your conclusion statement.  All other photographs should be placed into plastic sleeves and into a section titled Experiment Photo Section.  You will then number them and create an index page for photographs.  Example: Let’s say you put your best 4 photographs onto the display board all other photos that are good (don’t put every photo here) go into that section.  An index might look like this:  Photograph #1-3 Equipment used (date)  Photograph #4 Preparation of solutions (date)  etc…


Log Book:  Place your research logbook in the binder back pocket.


Practice your presentation of the project w/ parents, friends, in front of the mirror.  If in a group...practice together.  Practice your presentation and prepare to answer judges' questions.



Check List Rubric: 



____ 1. Is the abstract brief (no more than 250 words), and does it summarize the main points of the project (PROBLEM *generally 1 sentence and it is usually the first sentence, HYPOTHESIS *stated in an “if …then…” format, NULL HYPOTHESIS * a statement that states that the variable will have no measurable affect upon the outcome, PROCEDURES * 1-2 sentences that summarize the main steps in the procedure, DISCUSSION OF RESULTS * 1-3 sentences explaining the outcome w/ references to actual data, including reference to your statistical & error analysis, and CONCLUSIONS *)?


____ 2. Do the ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS provide credits to those who provided you with help/advice, i.e., "Thanks to Dr. Kay Reardon, San Diego State University, for allowing me to use her lab to conduct my tests, etc.


____ 3. Does the INTRODUCTION provide a brief look at the background and goals of your research, with separate entries for the STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM and your working HYPOTHESIS and NULL HYPOTHESIS? Are the independent, dependent and controlled variables stated in the introduction?

    ____ Is the independent variable stated in the introduction and worded so that it is measurable?

    ____ Have you identified all relevant dependent variables, and are they all caused by and depend on the independent variable?

    ____ Are the dependent variable (s) worded so that they are measurable?

    ____ Have you identified all relevant controlled variables?

    ____ Are all controlled variables worded so that they are held constant during the experiment?


____ 4. Does the REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE contain all that background research in a report (minimum of 5 pages) on what others have done in your area of research? 

            ____ Have you included a brief introduction that gives an overview of your problem?

____ Have you referred to a minimum of 2 research projects done previously in an area related to your project? 

____ Does it cover the primary aspects of your project (for example if you are using vitamins, minerals, herbs, other chemicals/ herbicides, pH, hormones, or antibiotics, research what they do under normal circumstances, and include a molecular diagram of their structure, or some type of bacteria, plants, algae, Daphnia, Drosophila, or fungi include it's structure, function and growth requirements, microwaves/radio/TV radiation emission, solar cells, inertial pull, Ultra violet radiation, electromagnetism,  pollutants, include how these are generated, etc...?

___ Did you include photos, diagrams in the REVIEW OF LITERATURE, if so did you include the source of each in a caption under the photo or diagram?

_____Is the document free of grammatical and spelling errors?

_____Does the content flow in a logical manner from paragraph to paragraph with a transition sentence? 

_____Is the document not just a bunch of unrelated information?.

_____If applicable are scientific genus and species names in this format:  Genus name of the organism spelled out w/ a capital first letter and species name all lower case, both names in italics and underlined? example: Saccharomyces cerevisiae

____Did you include photos or diagrams source on the WORKS CITED page? WORKS  CITED

____Does the REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE contains such statements as, "perhaps the most important information is found in John Appleton, et al, (1981), where it was indicated that...”


____ 5. Are the full names of the publications involved in the REVIEW OF THE



____ 6. Are the PROCEDURES an updated step-by-step description of how you did your project? (If you made changes during the experiment, include them here and note them in your logbook.)


____ 7. Does the PROCEDURE include your:







____ 8. Do your FINDINGS contain all the DATA you collected?

The responses,

The reactions,

The RESULTS you observed, and

The results of your STATISTICAL ANALYSIS?


____ 9. Does your CONCLUSION contain a simple statement of your interpretation

of those results with reasoning behind your conclusion?  Does your CONCLUSIONS relate to your purpose and hypothesis w/ support from your FINDINGS?


____ 10. Do your RECOMMENDATIONS contain your ideas on possible uses for your

FINDINGS and of additional tests which should be made in the future?


____ 11. Have you included a WORKS CITED page of bibliography of works mentioned or quoted in the body of the report, and does it follow the correct format?  See this link: on how to do this page


____ 12. Have you included a BIBLIOGRAPHY page in MLA format?  See this link on correct format:  

____ Does the Bibliography page have only your references of works

actually used and not just a list of books etc to look impressive?


____ 13. Have you included the STATISTICAL ANALYSIS & ERROR ANALYSIS; the actual worksheets on which your DATA was analyzed, should be handwritten or include the EXCEL worksheet.   Use these links Statistical Analysis Link:

and the link to Error Analysis:  


____ 14. Have you used only the most pertinent PHOTOGRAPHS, GRAPHS, ETC?  (Those you feel will be most useful in illustrating your project?  DOES EACH PHOTOGRAPH HAVE A SIMPLE TYPED CAPTION?)


____ 15. Have you included your DAILY LOG and RAW DATA; the day-by-day records you kept while doing your project? Your logbook should contain accurate and detailed notes of everything you did for your research project.  Good notes show your consistency and thoroughness to the judges, and help when writing a research paper. In your logbook:

Your entries should be dated,

Written only in ink, (COMPUTER GENERATED LOGBOOKS are not accepted),

Be bound - stitched or glued,

Organized by dividing into sections (leave index space in the front or back of the book, and number your pages),

Include notes on people contacted, readings and bibliographic information,

Write down your research plan, thoughts on progress, problems, and direction, and,

Include your raw data (raw data does not go on your display backboard) and your thoughts about the results

Include any changes to the project that were implemented as you went along.  


____ 16. Is my REPORT neat?


____ 17. Is the spelling and the grammar correct?


____ 18. Is it written in 3rd person? (ACKNOWLEDGMENTS are written in the 1st person).


____ 19. Is technical language used correctly, are new words defined, and acronyms explained?


____ 20. Is it easy to read? (Double-spaced typing is best EXCEPT for the abstract).


____ 21. Is the TITLE short (less than 10 words if possible)?


____ 22. Are ALL required TVSEF forms included at the BACKof my notebook? (If this is a group project are all forms from all members present?)


____ 23. When done, ask yourself one last question; "Have I made an extra copy?" (A wise precaution after so much work and effort!)



Making the Display Board:  (50 points)

An example or two:  One layout  and another layout   Some notes on project boards

The Display Board Checklist

Rules to follow

Create the project exhibit board being sure to follow the Display and Safety Regulations.

1.  ___ Is the DISPLAY a three-section board (wide back panel hinged to side panels which angle forward at roughly 45 degrees) constructed of pegboard, masonite, cardboard, foam-core board or wood. It may be painted or covered with burlap or felt.  No lights are attached to the board.

2. ___Is the board no larger than 76 cm (30 inches) deep (front to back), 122 cm (48 inches) wide (side to side) and 274 cm (108 inches) high (floor to top, including height of table)?

3. ___ Do all equipment, notebooks and other display items fit into this space?


4. ___Are the  PROJECT TITLE, ABSTRACT, HYPOTHESIS , NULL HYPOTHESIS and STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM in the center of the board? *Note, this layout is just a suggestion

5. ___ Are the PROCEDURES & MATERIALS on the left side? ___ *Note, this layout is just a suggestion

6. ___ Are the: RESULTS, GRAPHS, and CONCLUSION on the right side? ____ Your project might also include APPLICATION (how your findings might benefit the scientific world or some other interest group).  *Note, this layout is just a suggestion

7. ___ Have you included a few PHOTOGRAPHS of your project that enhance and balance the display?  If you appear in any of the photographs while performing your experiment, be sure photographs show you wearing the proper safety gear (goggles, apron, gloves if necessary for your project).

___Do the photographs have captions or dates? 

___Are the photographs appropriately displayed (neatly backed on paper to make them stand out) Good photography can be enlarged and will enhance your project.  Take photographs before and after changes occur.

8. ___ Are your descriptions brief and interesting?

___Do these descriptions "hook" the judges and other viewers and make them want to read your REPORT.

___ If using images from the internet are the images properly cited?

9. ___ Is the printing of the section heading large enough to be seen from 3 meters away?   Suggest large 72  times new roman font if you are printing them from a computer.   The heading should include:  PROJECT TITLE, HYPOTHESIS, NULL HYPOTHESIS, STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM, PROCEDURES, MATERIALS,  RESULTS/DISCUSSION, GRAPHS, TABLES, CONCLUSION, ABSTRACT .  You can buy professionally produced headings online or local craft stores.

10. ___ Did you use a size 14 font for the written sections that go onto the board?

___ Is the spelling and grammar correct?

11. ___ Does your board make a judge want to "know more?"

12. ___ Have you avoided clashing colors, "razzle-dazzle" designs, "cutesy/artsy" decorations, and overcrowding the DISPLAY?

13. ___ Is the PROJECT REPORT BINDER chained or tied to the DISPLAY BOARD?

14. ___ Have you avoided expensive or fragile items for your display props that will sit within your project board area at the display table? (Use photos, drawings, models, etc. instead) 

15. ___ If you are using a computer, DVD player, video or any other piece of electronic equipment as part of your display you will be allowed to enter the science fair site 30 minutes early on judging day to get this set up.  Do not leave the electronic equipment there after the awards ceremony when the fair is open for public viewing.