Fifth-grade students can base their science projects on one of the key disciplines: biology, chemistry, physics or earth science. You should encourage your students to organize their approach to their project by filing entries into a logbook every day. This means they will be able to accurately recall their experiment procedure when they are designing their science fair stall, adding credibility and helping them challenge for first place.
An idea for a prize-winning science project for your fifth-graders gets them to create a miniature greenhouse. Get students to cut a 2-liter plastic bottle in half and fill half of the lower side of the bottle with planting soil. Students should plant a handful of seeds before taping the top half of the bottle back to the bottom -- forming an airtight seal. Have students take a pipette of water and pour it into the bottle before reapplying the cap. Students should leave their bottle near a window, where it will receive plenty of natural sunlight and open the cap for two minutes every three days to allow the bottle to dry out. Students should take photographs and observe as their plant grows over the course of a few weeks before presenting their project at the science fair.
One example of a fifth-grade chemistry project that will impress science fair judges gets students to grow their own crystals. Assist your students with the first part of their project, as they are required to handle some potentially hazardous substances. Take a bowl and add 4 tablespoons of the following: hot tap water, food coloring (let students choose the color), table salt and ammonia. Mix the solution together until all of the salt has dissolved before allowing the contents to cool. Get students to collect a handful of rocks in a plastic container. Pour the solution over the rocks and leave them to dry. After six hours, students will observe crystals forming. Students can present their crystals on their stall at the science fair as well as a write-up of the experiment's procedure.
Fifth-graders can challenge for the blue ribbon with a physics project that gets them to build their own electromagnet. Provide students with roughly 1/2 a meter of copper wire, a nail (about 1 1/2 inches long), a dry cell and a few grams of iron filings. Get students to strip about 1 inch of insulation from each end of the wire and tightly coil one end around the nail. Students should then attach each end of the wire -- one of which is wound around the nail -- to the poles of the dry cell. Encourage students to demonstrate the functionality of their electromagnet at the science fair by passing it near iron filings.
Your fifth-grade students can impress science fair judges by showing that they are aware of issues that affect the climate. Get students to set up their experiment at their science fair stall. Students should place a bowl 2/3 full of water on a scale so the weight is clearly displayed to viewers. Then, get students to set up a chopping board in a standing clamp angled slightly toward the bowl so that one end of the board hangs over the top of the bowl. Place 20 ice cubes on the board and shine a desk lamp onto them, which represents the sun shining on the polar ice caps. Visitors will observe as the ice melts and the bowl slowly fills with water. Have the students explain how this is a representation of the melting of polar ice caps and the rising sea level.
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