1. Use the Backboard as the Backbone
The backboard is a self-supporting, visual display of your science fair project. Select sturdy material that won't bend, like reinforced cardboard or corkboard. If you're planning to enter a regional or state competition, make sure the board meets the size restrictions of the Intel Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF).
2. Make Your Print Look Professional
Make your words clear and bright by printing them out on high-quality paper or using self-stick letters. Use easy-to-read fonts like Helvetica.
Center the title in large, bold print in the middle of the board and arrange the rest of your information from left to right under headings. Follow the sequence of the scientific method so that your board is easy to read. Place photos, graphs and research data in strategic locations to help supplement the text.
4. Write Catchy Headings and Succinct Text
Brevity is the soul of wit, so write concise but comprehensive titles. Try to keep descriptions to less than 300 words.
5. Include the Nuts and Bolts
Now onto the report itself! The following are essential for a winning report: an introduction, statement of purpose, historical information, scientific procedure and data. (Data includes everything from diagrams to flow charts to photos to conclusions.)
6. Jot Down Your Notes
There's no need to remember every detail of your experiment if you take detailed notes in a journal while working on your project. Organize your journal by date and time, and include all observations and procedures. Refer back to your notes when writing up your conclusions.
7. Cite Your Sources
Include a bibliography, footnotes or reference section where you cite your sources and acknowledge any guidance you received.
8. Draft an Abstract
Summarize your project in a 250- to 300-word abstract. Help the judges understand your display by explaining the purpose, procedures, data and conclusions of your project.
9. Stay Safe
The Intel ISEF provides guidelines of what can and cannot be displayed at science fair competitions. Make sure you follow the safety rules. If in doubt, include photographs, drawings, graphs, charts and model simulations instead of the actual procedure.
10. Help Judges Visualize Your Project
Which parts of your science project can you bring to the fair? Consult the Intel ISEF's list of restricted items to find out what you can't bring to the fair. Some items that you should show via pictures (rather than in real life) include living organisms, chemicals, food and flames.