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How to make a science fair project backboard

Posted by on December 4, 2011

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An award winning backboard

If you are an athlete, you might like to believe that “talent” always beats “equipment”, but the more you participate in a given sport, the more you realize that good equipment helps with success rates. For science fair projects, the backboard is the “equipment” used to communicate what was done in the project. The most competitive projects have backboards that are both informative and attractive.

The backboard needs to be autonomous – meaning that a person, otherwise not familiar with the project, should be able to understand what was done in the project without the student present to explain it. This is critical because most science fairs include a component for the judges to evaluate projects prior to speaking with students.

Although the backboard is the final product, the planning for its design should start immediately. So take photos throughout the project because pictures are a great way to tell your story.

Backboard Guidelines: All projects should have the basic components including the title, abstract/summary, question/problem, hypothesis, variables, materials, procedure, results/data, and conclusion. Keep in mind that judges are looking at many projects. They expect some of these features to be in specific places and if those features are not in the expected location, the student runs the risk of a judge concluding the student is missing that component. These components (i.e., Title, Problem/Introduction/Abstract, Hypothesis, Conclusion) need to be very close to the designated location, but the specific location and amount of space used for the other components (i.e., materials, variables, procedure, data, results, and photographs) should go where they fit best and where the student can use them to tell their story. It is important to make all features easy to find and spotlight the data collected on the center panel.

Here are general guidelines for making your own backboard:

Backboard Guidelines

And here are some more examples of award winning backboards:

Award winning science fair project backboard

Another winning backboard

5 Responses to How to make a science fair project backboard

  1. John-Paul Martin

    I am making a presentation to the Middle School Association of New York State. I would like to inlcude your web site. I am using your site in class as the model for bringing back science fairs in Middle School. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I am the Chair of the Western New York Science Congress, Inc. and I want to get the message to teachers in Western New York that science fairs are back!

    Thank You
    John-Paul Martin

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Fantastic! Middle school (and even elementary) school science fairs are a great opportunity for kids to figure out if they like what “real” scientists actually do, day in and day out. Some kids will discover that they really enjoy the process of asking questions, designing experiments to answer those questions, and be able to generate data and observations that no one else ever has! These students may then pursue a career in science – at that point they only need to figure out which discipline they like most. Other kids will hate it! They will hate the unknown. They will hate not being able to check their answers against some master book of answers –and that is OK because it is better to make these discoveries as early as possible.

      If you have questions or ideas that you would like to see discussed, post them here or send me an email at and I will write posts on the topic. Also, if you send me photos of projects I can highlight creative ideas here too.

      Good Luck! And keep me posted.

  2. Eunice

    I like this website

  3. Craig Pitts

    I teach 6th Grade in West Jordan, Utah. May I post a link to your blog on my class website?

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