p
 SCIENCE

 FAIR FUN
 DESIGNING ENVIRONMENTAL
SCIENCE PROJECTS FOR STUDENTS
    GRADES 6-8


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 SCIENCE FAIR FUN
Note  for  Teachers:
This booklet provides students in grades 6-8 with ideas and resources for
developing environmental science fair projects about reducing, reusing, and
recycling waste materials. Terms and topics in this booklet are addressed without
in-depth definition or discussion, under the assumption that students have been
exposed to these topics already through a classroom environmental science unit.
However, this document does include a glossary (page 16) and a list of resources
that provide more information (page 18). Words contained in the glossary appear
in bold text throughout this document. Some experiments take more time to
complete than others.  Be sure to discuss your intended time frame when helping
students decide on a project.


Note  for  Students:
This booklet contains ideas and suggestions for projects on reducing, reusing,
and recycling waste materials. You should discuss your project with your
teacher and ask for help, if needed,  in constructing a hypothesis, defining
variables, and determining what kind of equipment is available to you.
Definitions for important waste terms used in this booklet can be found in
the glossary on page 16. Also, you should note that some experiments take
longer than others to yield results, so be sure that you will have enough time to
complete the experiment.  In addition, your science fair may have specific rules
about how to conduct your experiment or how you should display your results.
Be sure you understand and follow those rules.

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                              SCIENCE FAIR FUN
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Getting Started 	1
Think Like A Scientist: The Scientific Method	2
Step By Step	3
What Makes a Good Science Fair Project?	8
What the Judges Look For	9
Sample Projects	10
Wrapping Up 	15
Gl ossa ry	16
Resources .                                  .18
                 K V


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SCIENCE FAIR FUN
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                                             SCIENCE FAIR FUN
                              GETTING  STARTED
WHAT  IS EPA?

The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA)
protects human health and
the environment.  Over
18,000 people work at EPA,
and more than half of them
are engineers, scientists and
policy analysts.  Many of
them were first introduced
to science through science
fair projects!
Science is fun—especially when you create
a science fair project focusing on the
environment! Science fair projects help you
learn about the world around you, and they
can also teach you and others how to improve
the environment.

This booklet is a step-by-step guide to help
you design an exciting science fair project that
focuses on the 3Rs of waste management—
reduce, reuse, and recycle. Use your science
fair project to show how the 3Rs lead to
resource conservation.

Check out the sample  projects in this booklet,
which also contains a list of useful resources
to help make your project a winner!

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 SCIENCE FAIR FUN
THINK  LIKE A  SCIENTIST:

The Scientific Method

A good scientist learns about the world by
using the scientific method. The scientific
method tests a hypothesis, which is an
educated guess based on observations.
The six steps of the scientific method are
outlined in the diagram to the right. All
fields of science use the scientific
method as a framework for making
observations, gathering data, and
drawing conclusions.

You should use the scientific
method to help design your project.
The step-by-step instructions on
the following pages incorporate the
elements of the scientific method.
The sample projects on pages 10
through 14 provide ideas that will
help you use the scientific method.
  Be sure to find out whether
  your science fair is looking
  for true "experiments," or
  whether other types of
  research (such as observation
  or interviewing) are also
  acceptable.
                                            a*
                                             vV*

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              SCIENCE FAIR FUN
STEP  BY STEP
Did you ever notice something and wonder
why it happens? Have you ever wanted to
know how or why something works? Do
you ask questions about what you observe in
the world? If so, you may already have the
foundation for a great science fair project!
Below are step-by-step instructions that will
help you turn your curiosity into a first-rate
environmentally-themed science fair project.
CHOOSE  A TOPIC

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 SCIENCE FAIR FUN
GIVE YOUR  PROJECT  A TITLE

Choose a title that describes what you are
investigating. Make it catchy, yet descriptive.
STATE THE PURPOSE OF  YOUR
PROJECT

Ask yourself: "What do I want to find out?
Why am I designing this project?"Write a
statement that answers these questions.


DEVELOP  A  HYPOTHESIS

Make a list of answers to the questions
you have. This can be a list of statements
describing how or why you think the subject of
your experiment works. The hypothesis must
be stated in a way that will allow it to be tested
by an experiment.


DESIGN AN EXPERIMENT TO
TEST  YOUR  HYPOTHESIS

Make a step-by-step list of what you will do
to test the hypothesis.  Define your variables,
the conditions that you control or in which
you can observe changes. The list is called an
experimental method or procedure.
OBTAIN MATERIALS  AND
EQUIPMENT

Make a list of items you need to perform the
experiment. Try to use everyday, household
items. If you need special equipment, ask
your teacher for assistance. Local colleges or
businesses might be able to loan materials to you.

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                                         s
PERFORM THE EXPERIMENT
AND RECORD DATA

Conduct the experiment and record all
measurements made, such as quantity, length,
or time.
RECORD OBSERVATIONS

Record all your observations while
conducting your experiment. Observations
can be written descriptions of what you
noticed during an experiment or the problems
encountered. You can also photograph or
make a video of your experiment to create
a visual record of what you observe.  Keep
careful notes of everything you do and
everything that happens. Observations are
valuable when drawing conclusions and are
useful for identifying experimental errors.
PERFORM CALCULATIONS

Perform any calculations that are necessary
to turn the data from your experiment into
numbers you can use to draw conclusions.
These numbers may also help you make tables
or graphs summarizing your data.
SUMMARIZE  RESULTS

Look at your experimental data and
observations to summarize what happened.
This summary could be a table of numerical
data, graphs, or a written statement of what
occurred during your experiment.

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 SCIENCE FAIR FUN
DRAW CONCLUSIONS
Use your results to determine whether your hypothesis
is correct. Now is the time to review your experiment
and determine what you learned.
DOCUMENT  YOUR  FINDINGS
IN A REPORT,  DISPLAY, AND
PRESENTATION

Record your experiment and the results in a report, a
display, and, if required, a presentation. Your report
should thoroughly document your project from start
to finish. If you can choose the report format, it
should include a title; background or introduction and
purpose; hypothesis; materials and methods; data and
results; conclusions; acknowledgement of people who
helped; and bibliography.

You might want to prepare a poster or 3-sided display
to give your audience an overview of your project. You
can use charts, diagrams or illustrations to explain the
information. Bring a computer with a slide show or
video of your experiment and the results.  Your display
should include a descriptive title; photos, charts, or other
visual aids to describe the project and the results; the
hypothesis; and a project report near the display.

Some science fairs require oral presentations.  In
preparing your presentation, ask yourself, "What is
most interesting about my project, what will people
want to know about, and how can I best communicate
this information?" Use an outline or note cards to help
you in your presentation. Be sure to check the rules for
the presentation. You will probably need to introduce
yourself and your topic, state what your investigation
attempted to discover or prove, describe your
procedure, results and conclusions, and acknowledge
anyone who helped you.  Practice your presentation
before delivering it.
  • t *
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                        SCIENCE FAIR FUN
    my hypothesis
NCE R
  «*L

                           my data
     my conclusions

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   SCIENCE FAIR FUN
   What Makes a Good Science Fair Project?
   Use this checklist to help you walk through the steps to a good science fair project.
          Select a topic.
          Conduct background research and prepare a
          bibliography.
          Formulate a testable hypothesis.
          Write a step-by-step experimental procedure.
          Develop a list of items and equipment for the
          experiment.
          Prepare a project schedule.
          Conduct the experiment, make observations,
          collect data, and document everything.
          Prepare visual aids (such as charts and graphs).
          Develop a report outline.
          Design a clear display.
          Ensure that there are no typographical errors on the
          report or display.
          Prepare for the judges.
          Practice your presentation.
8
FI8ST

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                                             SCIENCE FAIR FUN
What the Judges Look For
Good science fair judges do more than simply select winners; they also encourage
students to enjoy science. Judges are not trying to stump you; they want to reward
students who worked hard, learned a lot, and did a great job. Below is a list of criteria
that judges often use. If your project meets these criteria, you're likely to do well!
         Does the idea for the project show originality?
         Is the idea clearly expressed?
         Did the student do enough background research?
         Are the variables clearly defined?
         Did the student complete the experiment?
         Did the student repeat the experiment to confirm the results?
         Are the data accurate and correctly interpreted?
         Are there enough data to support the conclusions?
         Is the experiment clearly documented?
         Is the report complete?
         Does the display effectively describe the experiment and the
         results?
         Is the display attractive and interesting?
         Was the student able to explain the experiment and  results?
         Did the student complete the project with little or no
         assistance?
  Have confidence in your work and yourself. Answer questions thoroughly and
  don't be afraid to say you don't know an answer.

  Remember—being a winner isn't simply about getting an award. It's about being
  proud of the time, work, and energy you put into your project.
                                                                      9

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    SCIENCE FAIR FUN
    SAMPLE

    PROJECTS
    These sample projects focus on the 3Rs of
    waste management: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
    Use or modify these projects to create your
    own environmental science fair experiment.

    Don't forget to develop your hypothesis
    (see page 4). Remember, the hypothesis
    must be stated so that you can test it in your
    project. Some of the sample projects are true
    "experiments."We've marked these projects
    with a*j»- Others allow you to formulate and
    test a hypothesis, but are not experiments.

    Some kinds of experiments take more time
    than others to complete. Make sure you allow
    enough time to research the topic, plan and
    perform the experiment, and prepare the
    presentation for the science fair.
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                SCIENCE FAIR FUN
GOOD THINGS IN SMALL
PACKAGES

Did you ever notice that many of the
products you buy are packaged in boxes
much bigger than the product itself? Other
         "re wrapped in plastic, placed inside
          then sealed with cellophane.
         :kaging just means more waste to
         d. Design a project that determines
         ackaging waste can be reduced by
         ig people to change their buying
         ;ate a hypothesis that asks whether
         io of a product's size to the size  of
         roduct's packaging increases as the
         f the product increases. Look at
         •oducts that come in several sizes,
         ich as laundry detergent or cereal.
         leasure the area of the packaging
         or example, in square inches) and
         lart that against the weight or
         )lume of the contents. Do small
         roducts have the same  product-
         ze to packaging-size ratio as large
         iducts? You may also want to ask
         nail products have the same cost-
          ratio as large products.
NEW  VERSUS RECYCLED

Some people question whether products made
from recycled materials can perform their jobs
as well as products made from entirely new
("virgin") materials. Plastics, paper products,
aluminum cans, and some clothing are all
commonly available with both new and recycled
content. Choose a product, such as writing
paper, and compare the performance of the
virgin product to products made with recycled
content. You may want to measure performance
using criteria such as strength or durability.
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     SCIENCE FAIR  FUN
    SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT
    RECYCLING

    With the approval and cooperation of your
    school administrators, set up recycling
    bins and trash cans near the cafeteria
    doors or in other safe, convenient
    locations.  For a period of time—
    perhaps a week— weigh the amount
    of recyclables and trash collected.
    Follow this with an outreach campaign
    for a waste-free  lunch.  Put up posters
    and hand out flyers with information on
    how students can contribute to improving
    the environment by reducing, reusing, and
    recycling materials typically thrown away after
    lunch. After the conclusion of the outreach
    campaign, set up the trash and recycling bins again.
    Weigh the contents of both bins to see whether the
    outreach campaign had any effect on the amount of
    trash and recyclables. Did the amounts increase or
    decrease?  Do a  survey to see what element of the
    outreach campaign affected the students' habits.
    TAKING CHARGE
    Lots of everyday items require batteries:  cell
    phones; portable CD, DVD, and music players;
    watches; cameras; and computers.  Some
    batteries contain heavy metals that can harm
    the environment if not recycled or disposed of
    properly.  Are there better alternatives to  these
    batteries?  Develop a hypothesis about the
    effectiveness versus environmental risk of different
    types of batteries, such as rechargeable alkaline,
    nickel cadmium (NiCd), and rechargeable nickel
    metal hydride (NiMH).  How long do they last?
    How do their costs compare? What environmental
    risks do they pose?
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                       SCIENCE FAIR FUN
   EFFECT OF CONVENIENCE ON
   RECYCLING  RATES

   Although people may want to recycle, sometimes it
   is difficult.  Conduct an experiment to see whether
   convenience affects recycling rates. Learn about
   the factors that increase or decrease recycling
   participation and design a way to test one of
   those factors.  For example, with the approval
   and cooperation of your school administrators,
   place a recycling bin that accepts multiple types
   of materials (This type of recycling is often called
   co-mingled recycling.) next to a trash can. In
   another part of the  school, set up the trash can
   next to separate bins for paper, aluminum, steel and
   other metals, and glass. See whether this affects
   how much is recycled.  Conduct a survey to see
   whether students think separating recyclables into
   different bins  is less convenient than co-mingling
   recyclable materials, and ask them whether it
   affects how much they recycle.
^CREATING THE  PERFECT
   COMPOST

   Composting can be a good way for gardeners
   to reuse food scraps and yard trimmings while
   making their gardens healthier. In order to work
   properly, a compost pile needs the right balance of
   air, moisture, carbon, and nitrogen. Build several
   different compost piles containing different
   amounts of air, moisture, carbon, and nitrogen. For
   example, a carbon-rich pile would mostly contain
   dried leaves and wood chips. A nitrogen-rich
   pile would contain grass clippings and fruit and
   vegetable peels. Make sure that your compost pile
   has good air circulation and a balance of ingredients
   to control the experiment. Note that indoor
   composting takes two to five weeks to be ready,
   and outdoor composting takes at least two months.
   You will also need to allow time to grow plants
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     SCIENCE FAIR FUN
    in the compost piles in order to determine which type of
    compost is most effective. Once you've created your compost
    and measured the plant growth it produced, ask whether the
    composition of the compost affected plant growth. How?
    ECONOMICS  OF  RECYCLING
    More than 4,000 communities across the
    country have adopted "pay-as-you-throw"
    (PAYT) programs where residents pay fees
    based on the amount of trash they throw away.
    This encourages residents to recycle more and
    throw away less. Conduct a PAYT experiment at
    your school.  Measure the amount of waste thrown
    away in your cafeteria over a period of time (perhaps
    a week). Then, with the approval and cooperation of your
    school administrators, hand out the same amount of fake
    money  to each student and charge them based on the amount
    of trash they throw away from their lunch. For example,
    throwing  away a paper bag might cost a student $10, throwing
    away a plastic bag might cost $20, and throwing away an
    aluminum can might cost $50. Keep this up for a few days
    and see if the students begin to bring in lunches that are less
    wasteful (and therefore less costly). Keep track of the amount
    of waste discarded to see if the "fee"reduces the amount of
    waste thrown away each day.  Vary the fee to see whether
    higher fees change the amount of waste discarded.
    DECOMPOSITION  OF  EVERYDAY
    GARBAGE

    Find out how waste decomposes and the
    factors that affect decomposition. Read
    about landfills and composting and how
    their properties affect the decomposition
    process. Plan an experiment to see if
    biodegradable objects kept in the dark
    (as in a landfill or in compost) will decompose
    faster when exposed to air (composting) or when not
    exposed to air (landfilling). Form a hypothesis using an if/then
    statement, such as: if air affects how fast biodegradable objects
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                                      SCIENCE FAIR FUN
                  decompose, then I will see a difference between
                  objects exposed to air and objects not exposed to
                  air. Test to see if your hypothesis is correct. First,
                  gather two pieces of bread, two apple slices, two
                  pieces of cardboard, and other pairs of biodegradable
                  items. Record all the features of each item. Then get
                  two shoeboxes and fill one with dirt. Place one of
                  each pair of items in the dirt-filled box. Place the
                  remaining items in individual scalable plastic bags
                  so that no air can enter; put some dirt in each bag;
                  and place the bags in the second box. Then place
                  the boxes in a dark space where there is no light.
                  Observe the rate of decomposition every two days
                  for a month. Prove or disprove your hypothesis
                  by noting which items decomposed faster. Think
                  about how or why exposure to air might affect
                  decomposition, and identify properties that affect
                  decomposition of biodegradable  materials.
 REDUCE     WRAPPING  UP
    REUSE
RECYCLE
A science project can be a great way to learn
about your environment and teach others the
benefits of the 3Rs of waste management—
reduce, reuse, and recycle. At the end of your
science fair, think back over your experience.
What did you learn? How could you improve
your project? Start planning for an even better
science fair project next year!
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    SCIENCE  FAIR FUN
    GLOSSARY
    Bibliography.  A list of books and articles used by someone when writing or
    researching a written work.

    Biodegradable.  Materials that are decomposed by bacteria into their original
    organic components within a reasonably short period of time.  Most organic
    materials (such as paper, grass clippings, food scraps), are biodegradable under the
    right conditions.

    Conclusion. A reasoned deduction or inference.

    Conservation. Preserving and renewing, when possible, human and  natural
    resources. The use, protection, and improvement of natural resources according
    to principles that will ensure their highest economic or social benefits.

    Co-mingled materials.  Recyclables (e.g., paper, aluminum, glass)  that are
    collected mixed together, rather than separate from one another.

    Compost. A crumbly, earthy, sweet-smelling mixture of decomposing organic
    matter (such as grass clippings, leaves, food scraps)  that is often used to improve
    the texture, water-retain ing capacity, and aeration of soil.

    Data. Information, often in the form of facts or figures obtained from
    experiments or surveys, used to make calculations or draw conclusions.

    Decompose. To biologically break down  into basic components, given the right
    conditions of air and moisture.  Refers to organic materials such as food and other
    plant and animal matter.

    Environment. All the external factors influencing the life and  activities of people,
    plants, and animals.

    Hypothesis. A statement that proposes an explanation to  a phenomenon or
    event and that can be tested  by an experiment.

    Landfill. Disposal sites for non-hazardous wastes spread in layers,  compacted to
    the smallest practical volume, and covered by soil or similar material at the end of
    each operating day.
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                                                 SCIENCE FAIR FUN
Observation. Viewing or noting a fact or occurrence for scientific or other
purpose.

Pay-as-you-throw (PAYT). Systems under which residents pay for municipal
waste management and disposal services by weight or volume collected, rather
than general taxes or a fixed fee.

Policy analyst. A person who analyzes alternative courses of action or
procedure, using quantitative or qualitative methods, to determine which will
achieve a given set of goals.

Recyclable.  Material that still has useful physical or chemical properties after
serving its original purpose and can be reused or remanufactured to make new
products.  Plastic, paper, glass, steel and aluminum cans, and used oil are examples
of recyclable materials.

Trash (Solid waste).  Items that are discarded because they no longer work and
are uneconomical or impossible to reuse, repair, or recycle.

Resource. Natural substances that are a source of wealth and support life, such
as minerals, fossil fuels, timber, or water.

Variables. The things that affect an experiment. The independent variable is
the variable you purposely change. The dependent variable changes in response
to the independent variable. The controlled variable remains constant.

Virgin materials. Previously unprocessed  materials. A tree that is cut down and
shredded to make paper is an example of virgin material.

Waste materials. See Trash.
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      SCIENCE FAIR  FUN
     RESOURCES
     The following resources are available free of charge from EPA. You can download
     the files at the URLs listed below or order hard copies or a CD with camera-ready
     files of these materials using the contact information on the opposite page.
      The Quest for Less: A Teacher's Guide to Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling  EPA530-R-05-005
      http://epa.gov/wastes/education/quest/index.htm

         Activities and resources for teaching reduce, reuse and recycle to students in grades  I -8.

      The Make a Difference Middle School Kit                                  EPA530-E-03-001
      http://epa.gov/wastes/education/mad.htm

         A resource kit that inspires youth to reduce, reuse, and recycle to "make a difference" at home, at
         school, and in their communities. In the interest of waste prevention, only one Make a Difference kit
         per classroom is available. Some pieces in the kit are available for distribution to your students. Order
         the kit and those pieces at http://epa.gov/wastes/education/ordermad-ms.htm. The kit includes:

         Be Waste Aware - Waste Reduction Resources and Tools for Students     EPA530-F-03-056
         http://epa.gov/wastes/education/pdfs/resource.pdf

         A Collection of Solid Waste Resources on CD-ROM                       EPA530-C-05-001
         http://epa.gov/wastes/inforesources/pubs/cdoswpub.htm

         "Greenscaping" Your Lawn and Garden                                   EPA530-03-002
         http://epa.gov/wastes/education/pdfs/home-gs.pdf

         Let's Go Green Shopping                                              EPA530-K-04-003
         http://epa.gov/wastes/education/pdfs/shopping.pdf

         The Life Cycle of a CD or DVD                                         EPA530-H-03-002
         http://epa.gov/wastes/education/pdfs/finalposter.pdf

         The Life Cycle of a Cell Phone                                          EPA530-H-04-002
         http://epa.gov/wastes/education/pdfs/life-cell.pdf

         The Life Cycle of a Soccer Ball                                         EPA530-H-05-001
         http://epa.gov/wastes/education/pdfs/life-soccer.pdf

         Make a Difference in Your School: A How-to Guide for Engaging          EPA530-K-06-003
         Students in Resource Conservation and Waste Reduction
         http://epa.gov/wastes/education/pdfs/mad-guide.pdf

         The New Wave in Electronics: eCycling                                  EPA530-F-04-020
         http://epa.gov/wastes/education/pdfs/consumer.pdf

         Pack a Waste Free Lunch                                               EPA530-H-05-002
         http://epa.gov/wastes/education/pdfs/lunch.pdf

         Science Fair Fun                                                      EPA530-K-10-002
         http://epa.gov/wastes/education/pdfs/sciencefair.pdf

         Service Learning: Education Beyond the Classroom                       EPA530-K-02-OOI
         http://epa.gov/wastes/education/pdfs/svclearn.pdf

         Tools to Reduce Waste in Schools                                      EPA530-K-07-002
         http://epa.gov/wastes/education/pdfs/toolkit/tools.pdf

         You Can Make a Difference: Learn About Careers in Waste Management  EPA530-F-02-01 I
         http://epa.gov/wastes/education/pdfs/career02.pdf
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To Order Hard Copy Publications or the CD

        By Mail:           U.S. EPA/NSCEP
                         RO. Box 42419
                         Cincinnati, Ohio 45242-0419
        By Fax:           Send your order by fax, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, (301) 604-3408
        By E-Mail:         Send an email to  nscep@bps-lmit.com.
        By Phone:         Call 1-800-490-9198. (Speak to an operator Monday through
                         Friday, 7:30 AM - 5:30 PM, ET.) Leave an order 24 hours a day.
                                                                                     19

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