Ideas for fifth-grade science fair projects are plentiful. In your role as educator, help your students focus their projects by first selecting a scientific discipline and then taking on a project that is feasible within any time frames that might exist. Help students with any difficult or dangerous aspects of their projects, such as handling hot water or chemicals, and encourage them to wear the proper safety attire.
To complete a project investigating the spore prints of different mushroom species, your fifth-graders will require a few different types of open mushrooms. (Prior to the project, remind your students that mushrooms can be poisonous so they should not ingest them and they should always wear gloves when handling them.) Ask students to pull the stems off the mushroom caps and observe the gill-like structure underneath. Have students situate this side of the mushroom on black and white poster boards, place a plastic cup over the top of them and leave them overnight, after which they will observe a spore print on the boards. Students should then spray each poster board with hairspray to preserve the print. Ask students to compare the different prints from the varying mushroom species and present them at the science fair.
Finding a safe and educational chemistry project that is suitable for a fifth-grade class can be difficult. One way of sidestepping this issue is to get students to conduct a research project for the science fair. One area that students can focus upon is the different types, uses and presence of arsenic in everyday life. Get students to compare organic and inorganic arsenic and the positive and negative effects of using arsenic as a poison -- in medicine and farming, for example. Students should use both books from the library and the Internet when completing their project, and should focus on producing a high quality talk to accompany their project at the science fair.
One practical physics experiment gets students to test how the size of a ball of wet plaster affects the size of the crater it makes. Get students to form five different-weighted balls of wet plaster, such as 10 through 18 pounds in increments of 2 pounds. Get students to set up five separate plastic containers containing the same weight of wet plaster and place them on a flat surface. Students should hold a ball of wet plaster directly above each container and drop the ball of plaster from the same height each time. Have students collect the five containers and leave them overnight to dry. Students should measure the craters formed the next day and present the five containers at the science fair.
An idea for an environmental science project that your fifth-grade students can complete in the classroom gets them to think about how a growing population places a strain on resources. Have students set up two identical goldfish bowls next to one another with the same amount of water and each with two hydrilla plants inside. Help your students by housing eight goldfish in one bowl and two in the other. Challenge them to think about how overpopulated one of the bowls is and how the goldfish will very quickly consume the hydrilla plants. Get students to draw pictures or take photographs of the two bowls over the course of two days before concluding the experiment. Students can show their pictures at the science fair, along with an explanation about population and resources.
About the Author
I have been involved in coaching and administration of youth soccer with the Herts FA for several years. I have many years experience with the technical side and equipment of soccer, cricket, rugby, snooker and poker. I studied the health and fitness and dietary side of competitive sport while at University. Currently, I am not ready for on-camera opportunities, but this could change with access to training and equipment.