Enzymes: In sample one the writer only refers to enzymes as an "important part of every living organism." This gives no information about the later use of the terms such as enzyme and substrate and this type of specialized terminology should be defined in an introduction.
Digestion: This sentence does not belong in the introduction section because the experiment does not deal with any type of digestive enzymes, nor does it matter that other studies have been performed on enzymes unless they directly relate to this particular experiment. All information presented in an introduction should be relevant to the report.
Experiment: This sentence is an attempt to state the question that the experiment tries to answer; however, it only summarizes what the experimenters actually did rather than what the purpose of the experiment was. It is true that the experiment altered the concentration of the enzyme, but the reason behind it was to observe the effects of those changes on reaction rates. Information pertaining to the purpose of the experiment is the type of information that this statement should contain.
Goal: The writer makes a serious mistake by assuming that the experiment is going to prove something about enzymes. In biology nothing is proven, especially not by one experiment, so in writing a report it needs to be explained that the experimenters only observed the experimental results and then interpreted them.
No reference: In the report writing sample one there are no references to any outside sources, whereas sample two refers often to a text by Campbell. All factual statements should be backed with references to show that the information has been obtained from a credible source.
An enzyme: This is a good example of defining specialized terms that are important to the experiment. This definition of an enzyme gives enough information so that the reader can understand the purpose of the experiment, but not so much information that it does not apply to the experiment.
In the first experiment: This is a very concise statement of the question that the experiment attempts to answer, and it begins with that most commonly used convention of "in this experiment." This is an appropriate statement because it is specific about the experiment and demonstrates a clear understanding that the purpose is not only to alter the amounts of catecholase but, in addition, to observe how these changes effect reaction rates.
Envirnmental: This explanation of the relationship between the shape of a protein and the utilization of its active site is important to understanding how pH could affect enzyme activity. Introductions should always contain the information necessary to understanding the entire experiment and report. This may depend on the level of the course because in beginner biology classes the professors will want explanations of more terms and techniques that are considered assumed knowledge in higher level courses. When in doubt, ask your professor how specific you should be in the introuction section.
In this experiment: This is also a very good example of stating the purpose of the experiment because it is specific about the experiment, varying pH, and it shows that the expected results would be a change in reaction rate.
An abstract is an abbreviated version of your science fair project final report. For most science fairs it is limited to a maximum of 250 words (check the rules for your competition). The science fair project abstract appears at the beginning of the report as well as on your display board.
Almost all scientists and engineers agree that an abstract should have the following five pieces:
- Introduction. This is where you describe the purpose for doing your science fair project or invention. Why should anyone care about the work you did? You have to tell them why. Did you explain something that should cause people to change the way they go about their daily business? If you made an invention or developed a new procedure how is it better, faster, or cheaper than what is already out there? Motivate the reader to finish the abstract and read the entire paper or display board.
- Problem Statement. Identify the problem you solved or the hypothesis you investigated.
- Procedures. What was your approach for investigating the problem? Don't go into detail about materials unless they were critical to your success. Do describe the most important variables if you have room.
- Results. What answer did you obtain? Be specific and use numbers to describe your results. Do not use vague terms like "most" or "some."
- Conclusions. State what your science fair project or invention contributes to the area you worked in. Did you meet your objectives? For an engineering project state whether you met your design criteria.
Things to Avoid
- Avoid jargon or any technical terms that most readers won't understand.
- Avoid abbreviations or acronyms that are not commonly understood unless you describe what they mean.
- Abstracts do not have a bibliography or citations.
- Abstracts do not contain tables or graphs.
- For most science fairs, the abstract must focus on the previous 12 months' research (or less), and give only minimal reference to any earlier work.
- If you are working with a scientist or mentor, your abstract should only include procedures done by you, and you should not put acknowledgements to anyone in your abstract.
Why Is an Abstract Important?
Your science fair project abstract lets people quickly determine if they want to read the entire report. Consequently, at least ten times as many people will read your abstract as any other part of your work. It's like an advertisement for what you've done. If you want judges and the public to be excited about your science fair project, then write an exciting, engaging abstract!
Since an abstract is so short, each section is usually only one or two sentences long. Consequently, every word is important to conveying your message. If a word is boring or vague, refer to a thesaurus and find a better one! If a word is not adding something important, cut it! But, even with the abstract's brief length, don't be afraid to reinforce a key point by stating it in more than one way or referring to it in more than one section.
How to Meet the Word Limit
Most authors agree that it is harder to write a short description of something than a long one. Here's a tip: for your first draft, don't be overly concerned about the length. Just make sure you include all the key information. Then take your draft and start crossing out words, phrases, and sentences that are less important than others. Look for places where you can combine sentences in ways that shorten the total length. Put it aside for a while, then come back and re-read your draft. With a fresh eye, you'll probably find new places to cut. Before you know it you will have a tightly written abstract.
Science Fair Project Abstract Checklist
|What Makes for a Good Science Fair Project Abstract?||For a Good Science Fair Project Abstract, You Should Answer "Yes" to Every Question|
|Does your science fair project abstract include: ||Yes / No|
|Did you review the list of "Things to Avoid" in a science fair project abstract?||Yes / No|
|Did you write the abstract so that the reader is motivated to learn more about your science fair project?||Yes / No|