The “Dos” and “Don’ts” of a Winning Science Fair Display

It is Science Fair time for students and teachers across the nation! This is traditionally the time of the year when young scientists and their teachers are preparing to shine and compete in Science Fairs hosted by schools and organizations all over the country.

Science Fair Sanity is a free resource for students and teachers and offers hints, tips, tricks, and examples that will assist you in developing an award-winning science fair display board.  We also recommend Janice VanCleave’s book, Guide to the Best Science Fair Projects.  Here are some tips from the book to help get you on your way!

Science Fair Do’s

  • Do use computer-generated graphs.
  • Do display photos representing the procedure and the results.
  • Do use contrasting colors.
  • Do limit the number of colors used.
  • Do display models when applicable. If possible, make the models match the color scheme of the backboard.
  • Do attach charts neatly. If there are many, place them on top of each other so that the top chart can be lifted to reveal the ones below.
  • Do balance the arrangement of materials on the backboard. This means to evenly distribute the materials on the board so that they cover about the same amount of space on each panel.
  • Do use rubber cement or double-sided tape to attach papers. White school blue causes the paper to wrinkle.

Science Fair Don’ts

  • Don’t leave large empty spaces on the backboard.
  • Don’t leave the table in front of the backboard empty. Display your models (if any), report, copies of your abstract, and your journal here.
  • Don’t hand electrical equipment on the backboard so that the electric cord runs down the front of the backboard.
  • Don’t make the title or headings hard to read by using uneven lettering, words with letters of different color, or disorganized placement of materials.
  • Don’t hand-print the letter on the backboard.
  • Don’t attach folders that fall open on the backboard.
  • Don’t make mistakes in spelling words or writing formulas.

BIG DON’TS: Unacceptable for Display:

  • Live animals
  • Microbial cultures or fungi, living or dead
  • Animal or human parts, except for teeth, hair, nails, and dried animal bones
  • Liquids, including water
  • Chemicals and/or their empty containers, including caustics, acids, and household cleaners
  • Open or concealed flames
  • Batteries with open-top cells
  • Combustible materials
  • Aerosol cans of household solvents
  • Controlled substances, poisons, or drugs
  • Any equipment or device that would be hazardous to the public
  • Sharp items, such as syringes, knives, and needles
  • Gases

These lists are from Janice VanCleave’s book, Guide to the Best Science Fair Projects,
New York, Wiley, 1997.

Additional Resources: Learn more about Science Fair Display Boards. See example of a winning Science Fair Display

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