1st Grade Science Fair Projects
This is selection of ideas for 1st grade science fair projects with short project descriptions or examples as well as links to the actual science fair projects. Some of this ideas could also be used for 2nd and 3rd grades (and vice versa). Also some second grade science project ideas and third grade project ideas could be used in the first grade so check them out.
At this age science projects resemble either simple games or magic tricks. Then unlike the magician you should try to explain what's going on. The goal of parents/teacher here is to help with organization of the project and experiment setup, provide simple explanation of the sciencenproject subject, and - entertain kids!
There are few fundamentally different types of science projects for this age and this is how they are sorted. Some of the projects may require a little online research for others you'll need to do a field trip. Either can be fun. The most of experiments on this page should be conducted by parents/teacher!
Hobby or Collection.
The goal of the project is to explain the concept of biodiversity, and find out how many different species of trees and bushes grow in your backyard (your street, neighborhood, nearest forest). Next time you go for a walk with kids carefully collect few leaves from each different tree you find in the investigated area.
When you back home it's time to do some sorting. Arrange all the leaves on the tabletop. See how different they are!
Collected leaves can be sorted in number of different ways: by shape, by size, by leaf venation and leaf type.
It's also good time to tell children about this differences and why they are important. (We recommend you check the links above before going for a walk ;))
Now you can count how much unique leaves and therefore tree species you have in the backyard.
Collected leaves can be turned into a herbarium, labeled and used in a science fair display or presented to the class.
You can go further and find the scientific name for each species. Another possible extension of this project is to collect leaves of all kinds of plants in the investigated area. Then you can find how many grassy plants vs trees are there;
It's hard to imagine that millions of years ago this animal imprinted in stone was alive. It was crawling the bottom of shallow sea among other similar creatures. Then something happened and it was buried in the fine sand which become hard rock few millions years later. Until someone found it.
There are many ways to collect fossils. The most exciting way is to dig them up and kids most likely would enjoy it but perhaps it makes sense to do such project in some higher grade.
The simplest way to make a fossil collection is to buy them online. There are many sites dedicated to fossils. Most of them sell pretty expensive specimens for serious collectors but there are some companies that sell small collections of common species. The specimens belong to the different periods of Earth history.
When you have your collection check which geologic time it belongs to. You can find what kind of other animals lived at the same time. What kind of animal or plant become the fossil? Was it predator or prey? In which environment it used to live?
At this age going through the full earth geology timeline may be boring even though some children do get it very well and remember the names of the eras and periods better than grown ups.
So how fossils were formed?To explain this process better you could do a fake fossil project.
Sea shell collection.
This 1st grade science fair project is similar to the leaf collection project. It'll require a little bit more time and probably few field trips to the shore. You might want to collect shells in good condition and from different locations. Make sure you're prepared for an educational field trip.
Ideally you make more than one collection of the shells from the sand beach, from the rocky pools and from the pebble beach. Species that live in this environments may be very different. Another important parameter is the water salinity so try to find the beach near the river estuary and check shells there. There are good chances that shells will be different from a place that are further away from the river.
Every time you collect the shells you should record where and when they were collected (you could simply write it on shell with a marker!). Don't forget that you can collect shells in the rivers and even in your garden! Shells are produced by mollusks and there are some mollusk species in pretty much any habitat.
You'll find one major difference between collected shells. Some shells will be a gastropod shell (much like garden snail shell). This gastropod article gives a pretty good overview of this kind of mollusks. Another major type of shells belong to bivalve mollusks (you usually find only halves of their shells).
Occasionally you find some other things that may look like strange curved and twisted shells. They belong to different kind of animals. It could be remains of some "houses" of bristle worms or it could be endoskeletons of some mollusks. For the first grade science fair project we won't dig into details of the ecology of mollusks, their anatomy and lifestyle. Making a good collection is enough - but see, there are the possibilities for extension of this project for the following years!
Creating a Model.
Model of the Earth - Moon System.
This is primer on astronomy. The goal of it is to explain how Moon rotates around the Earth and how moon phases and eclipses are working. For this model you'll need
- Straw or bamboo skewers.
- Little bit of plasticine or Blu-Tac.
You can eat some parts of this model after you're done with the science. First of all you should explain that Earth and Moon is the planet and satellite pair. Moon is called a satellite because it rotates around the Earth. There is a reason for that - Moon's mass is only 0.0123 of Earth's mass! Compare weight of the apple and the walnut. The walnut is going to be Moon and the apple will be Earth.
Tie the apple to one side of the skewer and the walnut to the other side of it. Tie another thread to skewer above the apple. It's good idea to connect walnut to the stick with two threads so that it would not be able to rotate. This is the way our Moon behaves - it always turned to Earth with one side. Adjust the connection point so that the whole system would be in equilibrium (see reference picture). Hang it to the ceiling or any other convenient place.
Now we have our Earth - Moon system ready for some experiments. With and without flashlight you can demonstrate:
- Rotation of Earth around it's axis.
- Rotation of the whole system.
- Moon phases.
- Lunar and solar eclipses.
Model of the Earth Structure.
You can use some fruits, or marshmallow-hazelnut and melted chocolate to demonstrate/make model of Earth inner structure.
Watermelon. If it would be a planet it probably would not be Earth. The internal structure of watermelon does not have small and heavy core, but it does have:
- thin green "crust" (skin)
- thin "outer mantle" (greenish layer beneath the skin)
- red "inner mantle" (juicy flesh)
- black "metal bodies" (seeds).
Earth inner structure could be like this in the very, very early history, before heavy elements sank to the center of the planet.
Avocados and mangos make much better models. They do not have as perfect spherical shape as watermelon, but they have big single seed in the center that would represent the core, the softer "mantle" and the hard "crust". For a marshmallow model use a marshmallow as a mantle, put hazelnut in the center of it for the core. Bath it in melted chocolate for a second to form the crust. Edible Earth for the first grade science fair project is ready!
You can build complex paper airplanes, simple paper airplanes and explain why airplanes can fly.
For this project you'll need couple of leaves, glue, plaster, some plasticine and water, medium size stone with one flat surface. How to make "fossil".
- Glue leaves to the stone's flat surface.
- Wait till glue will be completely dry.
- Build a plasticine border around the leaves. The height of the border should be 1-2 cm (~1inch). Make sure there are no holes in this border.
- Mix plaster with water (adding plaster to water) until you get creamy texture.
- Pour plaster mixture on the leaves until they are covered.
- Wait till plaster dries (~24 hours).
- Remove the plasticine border and separate rock and plaster layer.
Leaf print on the plaster should look similar to the fossil prints on the limestone.
This is classic elementary science fair project experiment. You'll need:
- couple of paper towels.
Put an egg in the vinegar and watch what happens. Outer egg shell is made of calcium carbonate (Ca(CO3)2), which reacts with vinegar producing carbon dioxide, calcium acetate and water. In approximately 24 hours the egg shell will be completely dissolved leaving only translucent and soft protein membrane. What's cool is that you can actually see intact inner egg structure! Use flashlight to observe yolk. Try to find germinal disk.This is the place where the chicken development begins. If you try to rotate the egg you'll see that the yolk always turn itself so that its germinal disk is on top of it.
Baking Soda Volcano.
This is also one of the classic 1st grade science fair projects. Take a look at the paper mache volcano science project, with step by step directions. This project will take a week to make, but this is fun and easy for little hands.
Mentos Cola experiment.
This experiment is very impressive but make sure you're not wearing new expensive clothes!
- Bottle(s) of Cola or Pepsi, or any fizzy drik.
- Pack of Mentos.
- Carefully open the bottle.
- Put the bottle on the flat horizontal surface.
- Drop few menthos tablets in the bottle.
- Quickly run away!
Cornstarch and water.(non newtonial liquids).
This is another messy project. You are probably not going to do such a massive experiment like walking on water as in this video.
However you still can experiment with some cornstarch and water solution properties at the smaller scale.
- You'll need
- 2 glasses
- water (test and control)
- 2 needles or paper clips.
- liquid soap.
Fill the glasses with water, very carefully put the needles on the surface. It's a bit tricky and may require some practice. If everything done right needles should float on water surface. Surface will work as very thin and fragile membrane holding needles afloat. Carefully add drop of water to the first glass. Needle should continue floating because surface tension stays the same.
Add drop of diluted liquid soap to the second glass. Needle will instantly sink. It happens because soap decreases surface tension. Another way to do the same experiment - use one glass with fresh water and another with water mixed with a small amount of soap.
- New needle will float better.
- If needle is not floating try to rub it with margarine or butter.
- To put the needle on the water use a "paper floating device". Put the needle on the little piece of paper towel and carefully put it on the water. Paper towel will quickly soak water in and sink, leaving the needle floating on the surface.
You can try another simple experiment. Add drop of the clean water on a dry clean glass surface. On the same surface add another drop that contains soap. What is the difference between these two drops?
States of matter.
This is one of 1st grade science fair projects that everyone can do at home.
- Ice cubes.
- Bottle with cold water.
- Some plastic wrapping.
- Small stone or marble.
In this experiment we'll see how matter can change state from hard to liquid to gas and back again.
Water is amazing substance which exists on Earth in three different states of matter: solid, liquid and as gas. Liquid is the most usual state of water. To demonstrate two other states we'll need a fridge and a teapot. Let kids pour water in the ice cube tray and put it in the freezer.
Wait till water turns into ice. This is first change of the state of matter - liquid matter become solid matter. Put ice cubes in the pot and put it on the stove. Watch how ice melts. Put some water in the teapot and boil it. Hold bottle with the cold water in front of the teapot nose (be careful, steam is very hot!). Watch how steam turns into water on the surface of the bottle.
A bird in a Cage-Tricking Your Eyes.
This easy science project demonstrates how deceiving our visual perception can be.
- Piece of paper.
Draw 2 circles on the paper each ~2 inches in diameter. Inside one circle draw an empty bird cage. Draw a bird in the other circle. Cut circles out. Put one circle on the table with picture down, and put a bit of Blu-Tack on it. Press thread into Blu-Tack piece and across the circle. Put second circle on top of the Blu-Tack, picture up (cage picture and bird picture should be positioned "head to tail"). Press them together.
Hold the thread in front of you with two hands and twist it so that paper circles are quickly flipping the sides. You will not see images of the bird and the cage. Instead you'll see image of a bird in a cage. Two frequently changing images fused by our brain in the single image. Same kind of magic happens in the movie and video demonstrations when multiple frames with incremental phases of motion fused in the continuous motion on the screen.
Solar Energy Absorption.
This easy first grade science project deals with solar energy. You'll need three small plastic bottles, black paint, white paint and thermometer (optional). The goal of this experiment is to show how color of materials affects absorbtion of energy from the sun light.
Procedure: Paint one bottle with black paint and another one with white. Third bottle should be left transparent. Fill bottles with tap water and put them in direct sunlight. Leave them in the sun for 10-20 minutes. Then measure temperature with thermometer or compare temperature of water in the bottles by just pouring water on your skin.
Water from black bottle is warmer then water from transparent or white bottles.
Try to do the same experiment mixing paint with water. Is there any difference in results? Check for more solar power facts and easy experiments on solar power and electricity for different age groups.