Background Information for Science Projects

Data gathering is essential to any science project.
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Science projects for school students range from simple setups and graphs to more complex fair-style displays or even extended activities. Students and teachers can complete some projects directly in the classroom, while others may need some at-home care to finish. Whether you (or your child or student) create an elaborate activity or something more basic, all science projects should contain background information or a purpose statement.

1 What Is Background Information?

Science project background information includes all research that you conduct before beginning the activity. For example, if you design a project on how acids and bases react when mixed together, the background section should contain specific information on acids, bases, litmus tests, chemical formulas, solutions, molecules and reactions. Additionally, the background information for an acid/base science project may contain biographical knowledge on scientists such as Robert Boyle who have contributed theories in this specific area or a time line of chemical research.

2 Other Information to Include

The purpose statement provides answers to many questions such as why you chose this specific project and why it is significant to the scientific community. Unlike general scientific background information, a purpose statement provides background on your connection to the project and the greater purpose of the activity.

3 Placement of Background Information

Background information for a science project should come at the beginning of any written report or materials. If you write a multisection paper, place the background information in the introduction before you delve into the experiment. if you display the project at a school fair or science event, include the background information on a display board. A science project display board, typically a trifold stand-up board, can include the background information, charts/graphs and other vital statistics or explanations. Type out the background information statement on a separate sheet and position it at the top of a display board.

4 Finding Background Information

There are a number of different sources that students can use to find background information for science projects. School textbooks are a first option for projects that are solely based on in-class material. Another source for background information is the Internet. Students should be mindful of using websites that do not contain authoritative sources. Look for sites from reputable scientific organizations and schools. Avoid blogs or sites created by individuals with little or no science credentials. Students may also choose to use nonfiction library books or scientific magazines such as National Geographic Kids.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.