How to Make a Winning Science Fair Chemistry Project

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"How to Make a Winning Science Fair Chemistry Project"
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Winning Chemistry project science fair projects is at three different grade levels. Although this paper seems long, it is broken into grade levels. One experiment for elementary school 3- 5; one for middle school 5-8; and one for high school 10-12. So you can go to the experiment that is at your grade level. Enjoy. Experiments makes science real. Winning projects are relevant to all of us.

Elementary School 3rd to 5th grade: Chemical Pollution: Plants with Detergents


Do detergents affect plant growth?


Plants grow by using water and the sun to make food. I am trying to find out if different types of detergents will affect the growth on a plant. This experiment, if done properly, will give us the answers we're looking for.


I think that the detergents will affect the plant growth and kill the plant since the detergents material is poisonous to most living things.


1. 4 of the same plants in little pots

2. 3 Different types of detergent.

3. Area with sufficient sunshine


First of all, make sure that the plants are all the same and are all fresh and not withered. Take the first plant and put it in the area where you are doing your experiment. Water it and let it stay. Next, take the 3 detergents and mix half a cup of detergent with half a cup of water and pour the mixtures in each of the remaining 3 plants. Do this for the next 7 days and record your results below after the 7th day.

Record And Analyze Data:

After testing for 7 days, the experiment showed that the three plants that had detergent material in them died. The poison killed the plants just like we thought in our hypothesis. The plant that didn't have detergent in it lived and was in good condition.

Middle School, 6th to 8th grade: Water Electrolysis - splitting water

Electricity is "created" when certain chemicals react together. We use chemically- made electricity to power many machines from flashlights to a watch or sometimes a car. Yes, there are cars that run on electricity! The devices that store electricity are called batteries. Electricity can also be used to produce chemical changes.Water is a simple chemical made from two gases - hydrogen and oxygen. Every molecule of water has two atoms of hydrogen for every atom of oxygen. H2O is the chemical formula for a molecule of water.If an electrical current is passed through water between electrodes (the positive and minus poles of a battery), the water is split into its two parts: oxygen and hydrogen. This process is called electrolysis and is used in industry in many ways, such as making metals like aluminum. If one of the electrodes is a metal, it will become covered or plated with any metal in the solution. This is how objects are silverplated.You can use electricity to split hydrogen gas out of the water similar to the process called electrolysis.

what do you need?

1. A 9 volt battery

2. Two regular number 2 pencils (remove eraser and metal part on the ends)

3. Salt

4. Thin cardboard

5. Electrical wire

6. Small glass

7. Water

what to do?

a. Sharpen each pencil at both ends.

b. Cut the cardboard to fit over glass.

c. Push the two pencils into the cardboard, about an inch apart.

d. Dissolve about a teaspoon of salt into the warm water and let sit for a while. The salt helps conduct the electricity better in the water.

e. Using one piece of the electrical wire, connect one end on the positive side of the battery and the other to the black graphite (the "lead" of the pencil) at the top of the sharpened pencil. Do the same for the negative side connecting it to the second pencil top.

f. Place the other two ends of the pencil into the salted water.

what you'll discover?

As the electricity from the battery passes through and between the electrodes (the pencils), the water splits into hydrogen and chlorine gas, which collect as very tiny bubbles around each pencil tip.Hydrogen collects around the cathode and the chlorine gas collects around the anode.How can you get chlorine from H2O? Good question! Sometimes in experiments, a secondary reaction takes place. This is what happens in this experiment.Oxygen is not given off in this experiment. That's because the oxygen atoms from the water combine in the liquid with the salt to form hydroxyl ions. Salt's chemical formula is NaCl - sodium chloride. The chlorine gas is from the chloride in the salt. The oxygen in the hydroxl ions stay in the solution. So, what is released in this reaction is not oxygen but is chlorine gas that collects around the pencil tip. Around the other pencil is hydrogen gas.In real electrolysis systems, a different solution is used, and higherof electricity help to split the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen without this secondary reaction

High School , 10th -12th grade: Chemical Pollution - oil spills


The purpose of this activity is to develop a test tube model of an oil spill in order to experiment with conditions needed for bioremediation.

During each phase of this project, you have the opportunity to experience the work of science research. You will develop flow charts of your procedures before using the laboratory to work.

In order for this to be successful, you are required to keep accurate and detailed lab logs of your work, RAG-1 streak plates and new and used motor oil. They first follow an established protocol to establish a test tube model and then are challenged to design an experiment to enhance the oil degrading properties of marine bacteria.

You will apply the principals of experimental design by analyzing a research article on the EXXON Valdez bioremediation efforts and developing and using positive and negative controls. Specrophotometric measurement techniques are used to quantify data. The Student's t-test is used to determine if the data are statistically significant. At the conclusion of this experiment, you will write up your findings and defend your research design and findings.


A large oil spill is one of the most dramatic and terrible environmental disasters. Heart wrenching photographs of oil soaked birds and marine mammals capture our attention and concern. Oil spills have a predictable progression. Usually the oil spill is crude oil which contains volatile substances that have low boiling points. These substances evaporate immediately, reducing the spill by 25% but releasing toxic substances into the atmosphere. The remaining oil is very thick and sticky and adheres to anything it touches including rocks, sand and marine life. Some of this oil is degraded by marine bacteria which degrades the hydrocarbon in oil for use as a carbon source.

Scientists have been experimenting with the use of oil degrading marine bacteria in oil spill clean ups. Marine bacteria which naturally degrade oil grow much more slowly than other bacteria strains. E. coli bacteria used in biotechnology labs divides every twenty minutes and is a vigorous and hardy species. If the gene which enables marine species to degrade oil can be isolated and inserted into E. coli bacteria, the ability to use bioremediation to clean up oil spills might be enhanced.

Acinetobacter calcoaceticus RAG-1 is a marine bacteria which can utilize the hydrocarbons in oil as a source of carbon. When these bacteria are grown in a carbon minimal medium, they will breakdown hydrocarbons. RAG-1 releases an emulsan - a polysaccharide that will emulsify oil. Emulsan accumulates on RAG 1 cell surfaces as minicapsules and is released into the media as an active emulsifier as the cell growth approaches the stationary phase. The absence of a carbon nutrient source accelerates the release of emulsans.


To develop a test tube model of an oil spill in order to experiment with conditions needed for bioremediation.


two sterile 10 ml test tubes containing 3 ml carbon deficient media

2 snap covers for tubes - size 13

1 agar plate of RAG-1

60 ul used motor oil

60 ul fresh motor oil

overnight growth of Acinetobacter calcoaceticus RAG-1

test tube rack

flame source


10-100 ul micropipet

Procedure for Establishing Test Tube Model

Using the spectrophotometer make a baseline reading of the carbon deficient media and record in your lab log.

Use the inoculating loop to scrape up a colony of RAG-1 and inoculate each cuvette with bacteria. Be sure to use proper aseptic technique.

Use the micropipet to layer 60 ul of used oil on one of the cuvette tubes and label the tube "used oil".

Layer 60 ul of fresh oil on the other cuvette tube.

Be sure both tubes are securely covered and labeled with your team name. Place tubes in the shaker water bath.

Check tubes every 24 hours using the spectrophotometer. There is a correlation between the optical density of the media, the growth rate of the bacteria and the amount of oil degraded. Graph this correlation.

After establishing this model, design an experiment to determine if this process can be improved and used to bioremediate future oil spills. You might want to consider:

a. enhancing the growth media with nutrients to increase bacterial activity keeping in mind the challenge of the scale up needed for an actual oil spill.

b. isolating the RAG-1 plasmid and transforming hardier strains of bacteria.

c. developing a method which allows the quick delivery of ready-to-grow bacterial cultures to an oil spill site.

d. using another organism such as algae as a model for bioremediation.

e. any creative ideas you can generate!

Prep for Oil Degrading Bacteria Lab

Acinetobacter calcoaceticus RAG-1 - available from the American Type Culture Collection, 12301 Parklawn Drive, Rockville, MD 20807 # ATCC 31012

Carbon Minimal Salts Culture Media

2.2 g K2 HPO4 . 3 H2 0

0.73 g KH2 PO4

1 g (NH4 )2 SO4

30 g NaCl

d H2 0 to total volume of 1 liter. pH solution to 7.0 with NaO.

0.2 g MgSO4*

* Add after medium is autoclaved and cooled to room temperature.

Using sterile technique aliquot 3 ml media into sterile10 ml disposable culture tubes with #13 caps. These can be inserted directly into the sample case of most Spectrophotometer 20 instruments. Innoculate media with 1 ml of an overnight growth of Acinetobacter calcoaceticus RAG-1 grown in LB broth. Students add 60 ul oil to each tube.

Grow cultures at 30 degrees C for 72 hours with a 250 rpm shake. ( If you don't have a shaker, rig up one by using an old phonograph player. Drill an off-center hole in a large record you don't want anymore and use liquid nails to stick a couple of test tube racks to the record. Set the phonograph at 33.)

Student's t-Test

In 1908, William S. Gosset, a statistician for Guiness' Brewery in Dublin, developed a formula for measuring the probability that two, small random samples of continuous variables might have been drawn from the same normally distributed population. He published his work, known as the t-test under the pseudonym "A Student", perhaps to conceal his work from competing breweries.

This is a useful instrument for students to use to analyze results of their oil spill in a test tube experiments in order to determine if the difference in their samples is statistically significant.

Symbols used for t-test

X1 = mean of sample 1

X2 = mean of sample 2

n1 = number of subjects in sample 1

n2 = number of subjects in sample 2

S12 = variance of sample 1(remember S12 doesn't mean to square this number.)

S22 = variance of sample 2

____ = the sum of

Strategy Formula in Math Formula in English

mean X1 = _ X1 mean = sum of sample

X1 n divided by the number

of subjects in each sample

Find variance S12= _ (X1 - X2)2 subtract X from each number.

S12 n-1 Square each answer. Add up the

squared numbers. Divide by the

number of numbers -1

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