Science is fun! Less fun: Everything about Science Fair season. Those two fold project boards give wicked paper cuts. Teachers seem to want a stressful amount of work put into each project. And there’s never anything cool about the last minute ideas you use when grasping at straws on the Sunday night before it’s due. Life just got easier, though. We’ve rounded up the best science experiments for each level of school so that maybe, just maybe, this year’s fair won’t cause too many tears (from you or from the kids).
Note: We’ve listed experiments in each section from easiest to the most advanced, time consuming or expensive.
Elementary School Science Fair Projects
1. Catapult time — What kind of objects fly further?
Think weight over shape.
2. How Can the Shape of a Boat Affect How Much Weight It Hauls?
Have kids create simple boats using cardboard and foil. Take note of how the shape and size of boats effects what they can hold and still stay afloat.
3. Water Drop Microscope
Microscopes are cool and science-y on their own, but laying out how water works to magnify things adds another level of, well, science.
4. Chromatography Butterfly Fun
Grab judges’ attentions with this gorgeous experiment in separating colors.
5. Can Changing Rubber-band Size Change the Speed/Distance of Travel on a LEGO Car?
This is a fun way to put your kiddo’s LEGO collection to good use!
6. Which Simple Machines Do We Use Most?
After explaining what each simple machine is and does, have your kids “collect data” on the types they use throughout their day. Consider having them walk through some of the more surprising simple machines in life.
7. Why Do Skittles Dissolve in Water?‘
We know all sugar dissolves in water. But, does your child?
8. Kaleidoscope Fun
How many times did you play with your kaleidoscope as a kid and did you ever look into the physics involved? Your kids might enjoy making their own in the name of a school science project.
9. DIY Speakers
Ever need to boost the sound from your phone? You probably know the mug trick, then. Explore how different vessel shapes amplify sound.
10. Spinning Top Splatter Fun
Some paint, some tops and a little bit of research is all you need for a colorful lesson on centrifugal force.
11. Make Your Own Hovercraft
Say good-bye to one of your beloved mix CDs and help your kiddo experiment with aerodynamics.
12. How does different types of milk effect Magic Milk results?
Magic milk is so fun. Why not turn it into a science coloring experiment or science fair project?
13. DIY Bouncy Balls
Catch ’em, if you can!
14. Overnight Crystals
If you’ve got Epsom salt, this cool science experiment won’t even require a trip to the store.
15. Tiny Dancer, Simple Motor
You might need to buy some copper wire for this, but it’s totally worth it for the cute factor alone.
16. Heat Sensitive Slime
Take your slime game up a notch and win the science fair all in one night.
17. How does over/under watering affect seeds?
This is pretty easy. Just use that old school plastic cup and paper towel seed growing trick, but have your child experiment with how much water they use.
18. Rubber Rainbow Eggs
This takes a couple days and could end up being messy, but it’s another eye-pleasing experiment.
19. How Do Plants Absorb Their Water?
Remember sticking celery or daisies in colored water? Same concept.
20. Which Kind of Trees Lose Their Leaves Fastest?
This one is all about collection and observation, so make plenty of time to start this.
Middle School Science Fair Projects
21. Density Tower
This tower of liquids is like the next-level oil and vinegar experiment.
22. Which Reacts Faster: Small Chunks or Large Tabs of Alka-Seltzer?
Did you know that the dissolution of an Alka-Seltzer tab can be qualified as both an explosion and a chemical reaction? Let your kids explore different theories on how to make it dissolve the fastest.
23. How Do Submarines Work?
Help build a water bottle submarine, then explore how they dive and resurface by changing their buoyancy.
24. Does Weight Affect A Drone’s Battery Life?
Remember that drone you bought your kid for their last birthday that they no longer play with? Of course you do. Put it to good use!
26. Create A Simple Circuit
The hardest part of this project will be finding D batteries in your house.
27. What Makes The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie?
Need a bunch of holiday cookies made? Let your kids experiment with butter temperature, baking soda and baking powder ratios and other variables within a cookie recipe. Nearly all results will be delicious, but it still counts as a science experiment.
28. DIY Stethoscope
This requires a trip to the hardware store. But, it’s a great way to discuss how sound travels and how stethoscopes work.
29. Can You DIY Yogurt?
Know anyone who makes their own yogurt or Kombucha? This is a great way to discover the science behind bacteria growth (and maybe get your kids to start washing their hands).
30. Can A Cricket Tell The Weather?
Spend a few days or weeks having kids compare the chirps of crickets to the temperature fluctuations outside.
31. Building Materials: Which Metals Are Most Corrosive?
Chances are good that you have plenty of different types of metals readily available (think: screws, silverware, change, foil, etc.), all you need is the time to test things out.
High School Science Fair Projects
32. Do Adults Still Know What They Learned In High School?
Have your kids collect questions from various exams and then administer the new tests to adult friends and family members from a wide range of fields.
33. Can I Change The Colors Of A Bonfire Flame?
Tossing different (non-toxic) litter into a bonfire (or even holding it over a candle) can cause the flames to change color.
34. What’s The Most Effective Natural Mosquito Repellent?
Don’t volunteer as a test subject.
35. How Does Social Media Usage Vary Between Generations?
This basically just requires a lot of research using their own (and possibly your) social media accounts to see what and when each age group is posting.
36.How Can You Speed Up Homemade Ice Cream?
Between rock salt and actual ice cream ingredients, this is a bit of a financial investment. The good news is that you can drown your concerns in ice cream.
37. Is My Mom’s Gold Jewelry Real?
Some chemicals found in gold and silver can have toxic properties that are harmful to bacteria. Can your pretty necklace kill? Find out.
38. How Can You Keep A Parked Car Cool?
Test temperatures in various colored cars, as well as the effectiveness of sun shades and parking under trees.
39. Does Tire Air Pressure Really Change Gas Mileage?
Basically, an excellent science project and life lesson in car maintenance for your teenager all in one.
40. How Safe Is Your Microwave?
Track plant growth over several weeks — keep one place near the microwave and one further away.
41. Which Type of Bread Molds Fastest?
Pro-Tip: Have them store their science project bread somewhere far, far away from where you keep your actual bread.
42. Could Hospitals Recycle Their Bio-hazard Collection Resources?
Blood vials, urine collection cups, barf buckets: They’re all used as single-use plastics. But, could they be properly sterilized and reused? You’re probably going to need to know people in the right places to make this work, but it’d be a very cool experiment.