Science fairs are common from elementary through high school but appear most often in the middle school grades. Most science fair posters are organized by the scientific method, even though it is not often used in this exact format by scientists. However, the steps in the scientific method are an effective way to communicate to others how you conducted your experiment, and these steps can be used on science fair posters.
- White tri-fold display board
- Bright and colorful lettering
- Colorful construction paper
- At least one photograph or drawing
- Rubber cement
- Markers or paint
Take time with your poster. Do not do the experiment and the poster the night before it's due and expect to hand in quality work. Plan the experiment out and complete it days before you need to do the poster, especially since many experiments have parts that need to be done more than once due to errors or unexpected results.
Before beginning your poster, lay it out flat and put all your typed information squares with construction paper behind it. Play with the design and where your visuals will go. This will give you a chance to include your own creativity and have more of a plan when you begin the poster.
While completing your poster, take a few steps back every five minutes or so to see how it will be presented to a science fair audience. Be conscious of the amount of white space—too much makes it look like you don't have enough information to fill your poster. Too little makes the poster look cluttered and difficult to read.
Remember most readers read from left or right, and this is how they will observe your poster.
It is important to read any instructions or rubrics given to you by your teacher. Most students lose points on science fair posters by not including all the information requested by your teacher.
Use a ruler to draw a detailed pencil grid on your poster indicating where titles, information and visuals will be located. This should include three sections on the left and right-hand flap, a large title line at the top of the middle section and boxes for your data tables, graphs and visuals throughout the middle section. Each section should also have its own title line measured the same width as the section.
Write titles in pencil on all title lines before going over them in marker or paint. Your main title should go on the line at the top of the mid-section. The left-flap should include your question, hypothesis and procedure. The right flap should include your results, conclusion and recommendations for if the experiment were to be conducted again. The mid-section under the title should be data collected, data tables, graphs and other visuals.
Take out typed information squares to glue into each section. Construction paper may be glued behind the informational squares. Construction paper should be a a 1/4-inch to a 1/2-inch outside the sides of your papers.
Write or paint over your titles.
Clean up the poster. Take off any excess rubber cement and erase any stray pencil marks.
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About the Author
Taryn Chaifetz has been writing professionally since 2000 when she wrote a chapter on trail and corridor protection in "The Trail Manager's Handbook" for the National Park Service. She brings a long history of expertise in the sciences and education. Chaifetz has her Master of Science in Education in science and environmental education and her Bachelor of Science in public affairs from Indiana University.