You need to have a well thought out hypothesis for your science fair project. A hypothesis is a well thought out question that you aim to answer through your experiment. In order to construct a good hypothesis you will want to write down different questions you currently have regarding horses or something related to horses. Then you will want to start doing some research into each question to see what information about your question is out there. Finally you can construct your hypothesis from your research. Every good science fair project starts with a good hypothesis.
For example: Let’s say my list of questions was
Does shoulder angle affect stride length?
Do horses’ eyes change color as they age?
Are horses more or less spooky when in a herd?
Well from this list of different horse related questions I could go to the internet and start researching them to see what is out there but before I do even that I can quickly pair down my list. I can immediately cross off the second question because I only have a few months to do this experiment and to look at horses’ eyes as they age would take years. So now that I am down to two questions I can go to the internet and see what is out there and choose which question intrigues me more and that I think I could successfully test. Hypothetically, let’s say I found a scientific paper saying horses with smaller shoulder angles have longer strides. I could use that paper for the basis of my hypothesis which would be “If the horse or pony has a smaller shoulder angle, then the horse or pony will have a longer stride”.
Now that a hypothesis has been established you can create your methods for your science fair project. The methods section should include the exact procedure you will use for your experiment. You will want this section to be very detailed. The idea is that anyone should be able to replicate your science fair project from your methods section.
- First, have the horse or pony stand square; measure the horse or pony’s height.
- Then, take a picture of the horse or pony; print the picture out.
- From the picture you will then draw a line (with the marker) to the point of shoulder.
- After drawing a line to the point of shoulder draw a line (with the marker) across the horse’s or pony’s body.
- Once these two lines have been drawn measure the horses shoulder angle with the protractor.
- After measuring out 12’ to 6’ distance (depending on if it is a horse or pony) place a pole at the beginning of the distance and at the end, out of the horse’s or pony’s path.
- Have the horse or pony canter the given distance (with the rider on them) while counting the strides they take over the given distance (it should only be one stride).
- Lastly, record the results.
Third: Controls, Variables, and Materials
Once you have your methods you will want to list the controls, variables, and materials for the science fair project. Controls in an experiment refer to the things that we keep the same so that the science fair project is as exact as possible. Variables in an experiment are broken into two categories; independent variables and dependent variables. Independent variables are those that you change while dependent variables are those that change in response to what you have changed.
For example: The controls of this science fair experiment are the distance measured, the poles, the rider, the tack, the protractor, the way the horse’s or pony’s shoulder angle is measured, the place, the camera and printer. The dependent variables of this experiment include the horse’s or pony’s stride. The independent variables of this experiment include the time of day, the day, the weather, the horse's attitude, the horses or ponies, horses or ponies shoulder angle, and the horse’s or pony’s height.
Fourth: The experiment
Now that you have everything prepared and a plan in place you can perform the actual science fair project. This is done simply by doing what you said you were going to do in the methods section. The science experiment may not go as you planned or you may have to slightly change your methods if you notice a consistent problem with the experiment. Typically, you will want to do at least three trials so you can get more accurate results.
Fifth: Data and Results
Once the science experiment is done you can compile all of your data. You should have all the data for each trial (usually in table format). In addition to the tables you will also most likely want to construct graphs and/or charts that relate to your data. On top of the data you will need to write a small section on what your data showed in reference to your hypothesis. The written section is what is known as the results.
Trial one agreed with the hypothesis. The horses and ponies in trial one reached the correct number of strides for the horse or pony’s shoulder angle.
Trial two mostly agreed with the hypothesis. The horses and ponies in trial two reached the correct number of strides for the horse or pony’s shoulder angle.
Trial three didn't agree with the hypothesis. Three of the horses and ponies were not in the stride length range for the horse or pony’s shoulder angle.
Overall, the hypothesis was supported by the trials.
The conclusion is meant to summarize your science fair project in a paragraph or two. The most important part of this section is to talk about whether the hypothesis was supported or not supported and why. Unlike the results section it doesn’t need to dive deep into the data but rather just tell the reader the overall takeaway.
For example: In conclusion, the hypothesis that was created was agreed with. Both trial one and two agreed with the hypothesis while trial three disagreed with the hypothesis. The experiment showed that height has nothing to do with a horse or pony's shoulder angle. Instead, it showed that the larger the horse or pony's shoulder angle, the shorter the stride length. The three trials did prove the hypothesis.
Once the science fair experiment is over and you have collected your results you will need to write a recommendations section. The recommendations section basically describes what variables could have influenced the science fair experiment and how you would improve the science fair experiment going forward.
For example: Variables that might have affected the experiment were the weight of the rider, the tack used, the day, the time, the tiredness of the horse or pony, the weather, the ability of the rider, the health of the horse or pony, the number of trips, the position of the rider, and the height of the rider. These variables could have impacted the outcome of the experiment. For future improvement, I could use more horses and ponies, use a rider of a different weight, height, or experience. I could also pick a cooler day or maybe also just do one trial a day.
The abstract is another important component of any science fair experiment. The abstract often goes over the purpose of the experiment, the trials you conducted, results, controls, and variables. Basically, it gives a brief overview of your entire science fair project from beginning to end.
For example: The purpose of this experiment is to find out if the horse’s shoulder angle or the horse’s height affects its stride. The subjects of the experiment are three horses and two ponies. If the subject has a smaller shoulder angle, then the subject will have a longer stride.
Trial one agreed with the hypothesis. The subjects in trial one reached the correct number of strides for the subject’s shoulder angle. Trial two mostly agreed with the hypothesis.
The subjects in trial two reached the correct number of strides for the subject’s shoulder angle.
Trial three didn't agree with the hypothesis. For the third trial, three of the subjects were not in the stride length range for the subject’s shoulder angle.
Overall, the hypothesis was supported. In conclusion, the hypothesis was agreed with.
The first two trials agreed with the hypothesis. Trial three disagreed with the hypothesis.
The experiment showed that height has nothing to do with a subject's shoulder angle. Instead, it showed that the larger the subject's shoulder angle, the shorter the stride length.
The controls of this experiment are the distance measured, the poles, the rider, the tack, the protractor, the way the subject's shoulder angle is measured, the location, and the camera and printer.
The dependent variables of this experiment include the subject’s stride. The independent variables of this experiment include the time of day, the day, the weather, the subject’s attitude, the subject’s shoulder angle, and the subject’s height.
Ninth: Purpose, Problem, and Application
In your science fair project you will also most likely need to include the purpose of your experiment, the problem you are addressing in your experiment, and how your experiment can be helpful in the real world.
For example: The purpose of this experiment is to find out if the horse’s shoulder angle or the horse’s height affects its stride. The problem in this experiment is, does the shoulder angle or height of the horse affect its stride? The application of this experiment is that it could be proven useful for people who are buying, selling, riding, jumping a horse or pony. It could even be helpful to people trying to figure out the horse’s or pony’s estimated stride length.
If you just want to see the example experiment I gave without the explanation on what everything is, head to the Horse Science Fair Experiment page.
Tip: Be ready to talk about your project! Every grader I had during my science fair years would ask me several follow up questions. It is a great idea to not only practice presenting your project, but to also have those who watched ask you some practice questions.