Science Fair: Timeline

One challenge for many teachers is how to distribute work through the year so that students can complete their work on-time and with minimal stress. I tell parents my goal is that students will not be spending a full weekend with no sleep just before the fair. I expect students to work through the year to complete all parts of the project.

Phase 1: Idea Development (and Literature Search)

Target this early in the year, end of September at the latest.  This means by this point in the year, students have:

  • Identified their topic
  • Written a preliminary question
  • Identified 6+ peer reviewed research articles
  • Written a 1000 word introduction

Phase 2: Experimental Design

Completed before Thanksgiving Break (the end of November)

  • Developed question informed by background research and history of topic
  • Stated a clear hypothesis
  • Considering the question, design a test to find an answer for the question

Phase 3: Experimentation

Complete experimentation by about the second week of January. This deadline sometimes shifts a bit if there are days of school cancelled for snow days, but that can be time students use to their advantage.

  • Experimental Design
  • Methods
  • ISEF Forms

Phase 4: Data and Analysis

Data should be organized and arranged in tables and graphs by the end of January.  This gives time to review it and look for ways to apply appropriate statistics.

  • Data Tables
  • Graphing
  • Statistics

Phase 5: Poster Presentation

Students begin to distill what they’ve already produced into a visual display (deadline two weeks before the first fair).

  • Poster Layout
  • Poster content

Phase 6: Oral Presentation

The very last week before the first fair.

  • Oral Discussion
  • Judging



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