5 Tips for Low-cost Science Fair Projects


Plan Ahead to Dodge Expensive Buys

Frantic, late-night trips to the store on Science Fair Eve not only chip away at your downtime, they can also put a dent in your wallet, as you're more likely to settle for more expensive supplies out of desperation.

You're a practical person, so avoid that trap by scoping out prices and sales in advance. The majority of projects require a final poster board or visual presentation that outlines your little prodigy's results. Most projects also call for scissors, tape, glue, ink cartridges for printing, rulers, jars, timers, thermometers, pencils and markers, among other things. If white tablecloths aren't provided at the fair, keep an eye out for an inexpensive material to place under your child's presentation, too.

The idea is to create shortcuts that won't compromise quality. Recycling supplies or paper might be less expensive and just as effective. Making your own supplies can save you some money as well. One wind turbine experiment uses a recycled, washed milk carton to act as the object's base [source: California Energy Commission]. Don't be afraid to be innovative. Buying supplies in bulk or encouraging students to team up for projects, if allowed, can defray costs, too.

Our next tip shows that science fair help is just a click or phone call away.