Are your children signing up for the science fair this year? Have you begun the arduous task of looking for science fair projects that might pique your child’s interest? Or do you have a child who already has ten ideas they have been dying to try?
The science fair is a great school tradition and a memorable experience for many children (I still remember the life size plaster penguin I made in 5th grade), and if your school doesn’t conduct one, consider starting it!
This year if you are on the lookout for science fair projects I challenge you to think beyond the vinegar volcano (we have “Volcano Alley” at our school because there are so many volcano projects every year). I know, vinegar volcanoes are like a rite of childhood passage, but there are so many other amazing science ideas out there! I have compiled a list of 30+ science fair projects for kids based on their grade level below. Before we get started I wanted to share some tips for getting the most out of the science fair.
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Science Fair Tips
- Don’t do the project for your child! This is my number one tip. Many parents have a tendency to jump in and make children’s work “more presentable” or to assist their child so much in the project that it’s hard to know who actually did it. Listen I get it, science is fun and you want your child to have a wonderful presentation…but that’s not really what the science fair is about. It’s about your child learning how to do scientific research and present their findings in their own way. Think of yourself as a helpful guide NOT an assistant, and definitely not the boss.
- Choose something age appropriate When your child is choosing the science fair idea they want to try, make sure it’s age appropriate. Sure we’d all love to make a working robot but there’s nothing more frustrating than trying a project that may be too advanced for the skills of your child. And that’s when a lot of parents resort to doing the project instead. Not a good solution. So make sure your child is capable of completing the steps them self.
- Make a list of three ideas Have your child select three science fair project ideas and then go over the choices with them. Make sure they understand the steps involved in each project and wether or not they feel comfortable in executing those steps on their own with your guidance.
- Follow your child’s interests Encourage your children to explore some ideas based on interests they already have. Here’s a list of science books with projects based on things your child already loves!
- STEAM it up! STEAM projects rock the science fair!!! A great way to get kids to become more familiar with STEAM concepts it to pick science projects that crossover into art, math, engineering and more! Two STEAM books to consider are STEAM Kids Play and Learn (my book!) and STEAM Kids ebook. Both books will get you started with some great ideas!
- Read our Science Fair Mini Guide I created this mini guide to walk kids through all the steps for completing their science fair project. You can check out the full guide here:
Speak like a scientist! Science Vocabulary to use in your presentation
We’re almost ready to get to the projects! Before we begin, let’s review some science terms. In fact, using these terms in your science fair presentation will be sure to impress your friends and adults!
- When you watch, see, or notice something you are making an observation
- When you ask who, what, when, where, why, or how, you are forming a question
- When you read a book or an article about your observation, you are doing research
- When you make a guess based on your observation, question, and research, you are forming a hypothesis
- When you test your hypothesis, you are conducting an experiment
- When you change one factor in your experiment at a time while keeping everything else the same, you are changing a variable
- When you take notes in your journal and write down what you see happening in your experiment, you are logging data
- When you examine, or look at, your data, you are analyzing it
- When you are able answer your question, you are coming to a conclusion
30+ Science Fair Projects for Kids
Now let’s get on with the science fair projects! I have organized the projects by age/grade level. Click the titles to be taken to the project instructions, unless the instructions follow below.
If you’d rather have the science fair projects list organized by subject you can download our hyperlinked PDF by subscribing to our email list here.
Kindergarten-1st Grade Science Fair Projects
Skip the vinegar volcano and try lemon juice! Kids will learn about the chemical reaction between citric acid and baking soda.
Learn about polymers while making a DIY toy! This variation on slime uses a few simple ingredients.
3. Shiny Pennies
A classic experiment that kids love is Shiny Pennies. Collect dirty tarnished pennies and have kids soak them for a minimum of 5 minutes in different acidic liquids. We used vinegar, salsa, lime juice, and lemon juice. After soaking, remove them from the solution and rinse in soapy water then compare which ones are shiniest. Take notes on which acid worked best to shine the pennies. Variation: Don’t rinse all the pennies after removing them from the different liquids. Can you see a difference in the rinsed vs. non-rinsed pennies? Leave them overnight and see if any of the copper oxidizes (turns green) on the non-rinsed pennies.
pictured above: Regrowing vegetable scraps, DIY Stethoscope, Simple Circuit
Did you know you can start an entire garden from vegetable scraps? It works indoors too!
Make your own stethoscope from a few hardware store parts.
For all tech centered kids: Learn how to make a very simple circuit from easy to find items.
pictured above: Chromatography Butterflies, Rainbow Rubber Eggs, Exploring Density with Salt
7. Chromatography 3 Ways
Chromatography is the process of separating mixtures, in this case we will be separating ink into different colors.
- How to do the Classic Chromatography Project The simplest kids chromatography project using paper towels
- Chromatography Art Turn chromatography strips into a woven paper art project!
- Chromatography Butterflies Learn how to separate colors and create a sweet science based craft!
Why don’t oil and water mix? Find out with this density experiment inspired by Lava Lamps!
Rubber eggs are another classic science project that kids love. And it’s so easy! I mean does dropping an egg in vinegar and coming back in a few days sound do-able?
2nd-4th grade Science Fair Projects
You just can’t get rid of this physics project! This project explores the difference between potential and kinetic energy.
pictured above: Bleeding Blossoms, Teleidoscopes, Density Tower
11. Absorption 2 Ways
- Bleeding Blossoms Explore capillary action and absorption in this science meets art project.
- Magical Water Blossoms Make beautiful blossoming paper flowers with the help of absorption. This project has a simple wow moment that everyone enjoys watching.
A teleidoscope is a kaliedoscpe without an end. This means you can use it to view anything and everything. Look through one of these and you will be amazed!
13. Density Towers 2 Ways:
Yes, you can layer liquids on top of each other without them mixing! This is a classic project and kids can customize the liquids they choose to layer.
- Simple Layered Liquids Learn how to make a simple density tower out of kitchen ingredients and then turn it into a lava lamp!
- Glowing Density Tower This density tower has a bonus science surprise: it glows under UV light!
14. Magnet Magic
Make a simple hanging magnet structure and explore the magic of magnetism.
pictured above: Chromatography Art, Dry Erase Figure, Overnight Crystals
Did you know that a chemical reaction can generate electricity?
AKA Squishy Circuits, this project will demonstrate that salt and water conduct electricity!
Explore the science of sound with these 4 experiments, then use your knowledge to make your own DIY instrument!
pictured above: Magnetic Sensory Bottle, Magical Plastic Bag, Cartesian Divers
This will surely be a hit at the Science Fair! Watch metal particles dance and move under the influence of powerful magnets!
It’s not magic, it’s polymers! This easy science fair project uses a minimum of materials but demonstrates how everyday polymers work.
20. Cartesian Divers
A classic science experiment exploring buoyancy. Make “diver” swim up and down in a bottle using science.
Did you know you can make simple microscope from a plastic bottle and water? This project teaches kids to turn trash into a science tool!
22. Spinning Tops
Learn about centrifugal force and friction with one of these three spinning tops ideas!
Make you own moving sculpture while learning about cams and gears!
Science Fair Projects for 5th Grade and up
pictured above: Crystal landscapes, Tiny Dancers, Coffee Can Camera Obscura
24. Crystals 3 Ways:
- Overnight Crystals Grow Epsom salt crystals overnight in your refrigerator.
- Crystal Wind Catchers Borax crystals are SUPER easy to grow! Turn them into a lovely dangling wind catcher.
- Crystal Landscapes A more advanced crystal growing experiment using bluing and salt but WOW, these are gorgeous!
25. Tiny Dancers
These are actually a very simple motor! Kids will learn about electromagnetism by building this motor that can “dance.”
Make a simple camera obscura out of an old coffee can.
pictured above: Heat Sensitive Slime, Levitating Pen
Click your slime chemistry up a notch by adding in thermochromic paint!
28. Levitating Pen
Make a pen appear to levitate using a magnet!
29. Newton’s Cradle
Featured on Dude Perfect! I made one of these for the science fair back in the 1980’s…This science “toy” is mesmerizing for kids and adults alike!
pictured above: Electromagnetic Train, Fake Lung, Articulated Hand
Incredible display of electricity and magnetism!
31. Fake Lung
For kids interested in life science and biology, make a model of how our lungs work for the science fair.
32. Articulated Hand
Another one for biology oriented kids, explore how our joints move by creating an articulated hand.
33. Salty Circuits
In this simple circuit project, kids will create an electrical circuit using salt to conduct electricity and power a light emitting diode (LED).
Are you ready for the science fair?
Whether your child has never participated in the science fair or is an old pro, I hope the science fair projects here will inspire them to have fun, explore science, and get creative the same time.