Mr. Rogers' Science Fair Information - for High School Students

Project Details

Project Ideas

Want extra credit? Mr. Rogers offers extra credit for appropriate Science Fair projects

How to Create a Winning Project.

Pick a Worthy Topic
Pick a topic that interests you, challenges you, and hasn't been done in every science fair since the dawn of time. Let's face it, it's difficult to find a totally unique subject, but judges are not impressed with topics they've seen again and again. There's no substitute for diligent and exhaustive research when looking for a suitable topic.
Avoid Cookbook Topics
If you find detailed cookbook-like instructions for a project, it's usually been done to death. Publications and web sites offering these types of projects are of limited help.
Find a Mentor
Find a mentor who's an expert in the area you're studying. Read articles, find one you like and understand, then contact the author and ask a intelligent question about it. If he or she answers, then attempt to keep the conversation (via e-mail) going. With luck it will develop into a mentoring relationship. Nearby colleges and universities are also good sources for mentors. Note: finding a mentor is the single most important element for developing a quality project.
Find a Sponsor
Find a sponsor who can help you get the resources you need for your project. Often this is a well connected teacher. It's good if your mentor and sponsor can be the same person, but the sponsor does not need to understand all the technical details of your project. He or she does need to understand how to get things done.
Research Background Information in Detail
Read and learn as much as possible about your subject. You should know how to explain it and answer questions beyond the immediate project. If you have done a thorough job of research in picking your topic, background research will be easy.
Collect Lots of Data
Generate and replicate lots of data points. The single biggest weakness of science fair projects is the fact that they tend to draw sweeping conclusions with inadequate amounts of data.

Analyze Data With Statistical Tools: Use statistical analysis. Again, this is a major weakness of many projects. Graphs alone are not as powerful as graphs with statistical analysis.

Put Together a Powerful Presentation: Yes, your  backboard's quality is very important but nothing can compensate if you are unable to talk about your project. Put together a short jargon-free presentation for judges who are not experts on your project and a second more technical one for judges who are, then practice, practice, practice. Have a knowledgeable person ask you questions to make sure you are prepared beyond your presentation. How you communicate is a major factor in how judges will perceive your project.

Greenville County and SC Upstate Science & Engineering Fair - 2006

Deadline for Applications: February 26, 2010
Competition: Tuesday, March 9, 2010
At the Carolina First Center
Awards:  Tuesday March 16 at Roper Mountain Science Center

For More Information: Contact International Science and Engineering Fair or Roper Mountain Science Center.

Entry Forms: Forms have to be filled out for both the regional and international science fairs. Forms will vary depending on the project. Read the materials carefully and submit only the required forms. 

(Deadline for submission of forms to Mr. Rogers - March 2nd)

To enter at Southside contact  Tom Rogers .


All Grades
Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF): "The world's largest pre-college science competition—provides an opportunity ... [to] compete for over $3 million in awards and scholarships". To qualify ... you must compete in the regional science fair and be selected as a representative to ISEF.


Freshmen - Juniors (must be less than 18 years old)
Davidson Fellows: "Davidson Fellows are extraordinary young people who have completed a significant piece of work in mathematics, science, technology, music, literature, and/or philosophy that has the potential to benefit society. Individuals named as Davidson Fellows receive a $50,000, $25,000 or $10,000 scholarship ..."


Seniors Only
Siemens Westinghouse: Is open only to seniors. Has over $1 million dollars in scholarships. Deadline for entries: Wednesday, October 1, 2003
Intel Talent Search: $1.25 million in scholarships and awards. Top prize = $100,000. Deadline for entries in the 63rd Intel Science Talent Search (2003 - 2004) is 11:59 p.m. (EST) Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Computer Related Projects

There's a saying that eventually biology turns into chemistry; chemistry turns into physics; and physics turns into math. The underlying thought: any movement towards mathematics results in greater certainty and speed of development. Mathematical models are incredibly powerful for predicting things like whether a bridge will collapse or an aircraft fly.

However, getting mathematical models to converge on a solution can be all but impossible. Computers can frequently solve these problems with ease using a variety of techniques including numerical algorithms, Monte Carlo simulations and brute force calculation power. Computer models are revolutionizing science.

The use of computers is no longer limited to math and computer science projects. Use the ideas below for search terms in Google or the Wikipedia as possible starting points for researching your topic.

  1. Artificial Intelligence: This attempt to simulate the human brain functions. This includes neural networks which are computer programs which learn.
  2. Artificial Life: Uses computer simulations to derive general theories about life. the Scientific American article "ARTIFICIAL LIFE: Boids of a Feather Flock Together" is a great place to start.
  3. Cellular automata: Cellular automata are computer programs that try to simulate life at the cellular level. They attempt to explain how undifferentiated cells can divide and become complex structures such as appendages.
  4. Chaos Theory: This deals with non linear systems which can become chaotic. It includes various forms of turbulence, animal populations, climate and the stock market.
  5. Fractals: These use relatively simple iterated equations to produce elaborate graphics.
  6. Number Series: There are many different type. Computers are commonly used to discover new members of various series. This includes the search for perfect numbers, mersenne primes, etc.
  7. Spam Filters: These devices are used for blocking e-mail spam. They can range from very sophisticated to very simple and can be fairly easy to write.
  8. Markov Chains:
  9. Physics Simulations Accounting for Air Resistance: The reason air resistance is ignored in most calculations has to do with the fact that it generally requires a computer to do account for it.
  10. Random Number Generators: There's no such thing as a perfect random number generator. Usually they have to strike a balance between performance and speed and are still a topic of research among computer scientists.
  11. Monte Carlo Simulations: These are programs which use random number generators to simulate complex problems. They can be extremely complex or very simple. Simple simulations of this type can be done with relatively little programming experience. The Marine Biology case study in AP Computer Science is an example of a Monte Carlo Simulation.
  12. Perception Studies: Computer programs can output sounds and colors. They can be programmed to flash timed text messages. These features can be used for testing human perception, reaction times, etc.



Want a Hot Topic? Try Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics combines biology and computer Science. Currently, genome information is coming in faster than it can be analyzed. Many web sites are available with genetic sequence data as long strings of made up of the letters A, C, G, and T. It's relatively easy from a programming standpoint to write programs which analyze these strings for various forms of information.

Where to Start:

Dolan DNA Learning Center: the world's first science center devoted entirely to public genetics education with a web page featuring everything from video clips to Geneboy, a tool for exploring bioinformatics.

South Carolina DNA Learning Center: located at Clemson University offers all kind of training including hands-on Saturday courses open to the public.

Gene Gateway: an huge site with all kinds of genome information. This is the place to start when looking for sequence data.

Entrez Nucleotides database: contains an exhaustive amount of human genome sequence data from several sources organized by chromosome. Identifies areas of chromosomes thought to be associated with susceptibility to numerous types of diseases, disorders, and defects.

Bioalgorithms Web Site: A web site to accompany the book An Introduction to Bioinformatics Algorithms (see below). The site offers just the right amount of information to help get started in bioinformatics.

Some References
Bioinformatics for Dummies (Paperback)
by Jean-Michel Claverie, Cedric Notredame

This book is highly recommended by readers at and, for a technical book is reasonably priced. It's one of the best places to start learning about the field.




An introductory college text that is readable and packed with useful information. One of the best starting points for getting into bioinformatics.







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Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics is one of the most humorous, entertaining, and readable physics books available, yet is filled with all kinds of useful content and clear explanations for high school, 1st semester college physics students, and film buffs.

It explains all 3 of Newton's laws, the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics, momentum, energy, gravity, circular motion and a host of other topics all through the lens of Hollywood movies using Star Trek and numerous other films.

If you want to learn how to think physics and have a lot of fun in the process, this is the book for you!


First the web site,

now the book!

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