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How to Pick a Biology Topic for a Science Fair
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Hi, I'm Jim Shields for About.com and today I'm going to talk to you about how to pick a topic for the science fair.  So the science fair is coming up and you have no idea where to start. First of all, get a general idea of what you are interested in studying. It will be hard to complete a project that you don't find interesting. If you like marine biology, for example, start there, it'll keep your interest high.   The next step is to narrow that general idea into a more specific topic, which will be possible to accomplish in the time you were given. So once you have that general idea, where do you go to learn more and narrow your topic? The obvious places to start are the library and the Internet.But don’t limit yourself to these. When my students are looking for ideas, I recommend that they find an expert to ask. When people find you share a passion for a topic that they're interested in, they tend to want to help you learn more about it. Unlike a passive resource like the Internet or the library, a person will interact with you in a dynamic way, helping you define your question and providing ideas you may not have found otherwise. Now you've refined your topic and you've got something you think is pretty narrow. The next thing you need to do is design a testable question. What makes a question “testable?" Well, first of all it has to be narrow enough to be answered in the time you have.  Secondly, it requires only equipment and materials you can access. So remember how we started with marine biology? If you don’t live near the ocean or have a pet dolphin, you might need to consider aquatic life in the waterways of your community and make your testable question about that. The final part about making a good testable question is to be sure that the answer can be expressed in numbers. All data should be expressed in numerical values with units to make sure that it's valid scientifically. The final important step in choosing a topic for the science fair is to give yourself enough time to complete the project. So make a step-by-step plan, including time for gathering the equipment. Figure out how long each step is likely to take and then add those up to figure out the total time requirement. And make sure to roll in a plan for some things to go wrong -- because not everything happens perfectly on the first try. Remember that mistakes can help you learn, but they do take time. So remember, pick an idea that is interesting to you. Narrow your topic to a manageable size. Use human resources whenever possible. Design a testable question. And plan enough time to complete the project.  Good luck! Thanks for watching. To learn more about biology, visit us on the web at About.com.
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