4th Grade Science Fair Projects

Instructor: Jennifer Rosenthal

Jen has taught science at the high school and college level and has a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction in Science Education.

This lesson explores a variety of science fair project topics that fourth grade students might investigate. It also provides some suggestions for how to successfully guide students through their projects.

Understanding 4th Graders

Although it is difficult to categorize a typical fourth grade student's interests, there are some common characteristics to keep in mind when planning out activities for them to explore through a science fair project. Students in fourth grade tend to be curious and industrious. They are beginning to see the world in a bigger way and may focus on social issues of concern, especially issues of justice and equity.

Although students in this age group are still relatively concrete thinkers, they can be encouraged to engage in higher-order thinking. Considering these characteristics, there is a large range of possible topics that students in this age group may enjoy developing science projects from. Let's first take a look at how to develop a science fair project.

Developing an Interest and a Testable Question

Where to begin? It can be difficult to know where to begin when developing a science fair project. Helping students develop a topic of interest is the first step. Considering that each student will have different interests, it is important to encourage students to start with a broad idea that can be focused into a testable question.

For example, a student might be interested in animals. You may then ask what specific animal(s) they are interested in and what it is about the animal that they would like to learn more about. If your student said they were interested in household pets, you might suggest a specific question, such as 'Which household pet is the most popular among 4th grade girls and boys?' Although there are a variety of questions that students can develop that might center on the topic of pets, as in this case, the key to a successful science fair project is formulating a question that can be tested through an experiment.

Developing a testable question can prove to be one of the most difficult parts of the process, although it is undoubtedly the most important step. It is also important to consider the length of time and the resources that students will have access to before deciding upon a research question. Some possible research topic ideas will be explored in the next section. The suggested topic areas align with the fourth grade Next Generation Science Standards.

Suggested Topics for 4th Grade Science Fair Projects


Energy is an important topic covered in fourth grade. Kim and Kelly are two fourth grade students interested in learning more about energy transfer. They both enjoy cooking and are interested in learning how different types of cooking pots affect the time that it takes for water to boil.

Their research question is: 'How does cooking pot material affect the rate at which water boils?' The girls set off to obtain three different types of sauce pans made from stainless steel, glass, and copper. In order to create a fair test, which is an experiment where only one variable is changed at a time, the girls make sure all three pots have the same volume. They also use the same stove, thermometer, and stopwatch to measure the rate at which tap water boils.

Plant Growth

Understanding plant and animal structures and the adaptations made by these organisms are important topics covered in fourth grade. Jim and Jose are two fourth graders interested in learning more about plant growth and how plants adapt to their surroundings and growing conditions. They decide to develop their interest by testing the research question: 'How does the color of light affect the growth rate of marigolds?'

The boys test their question by setting up 14 different potted marigold plants in pairs. They place them under seven different colors of light, which include: red, yellow, orange, green, blue, violet, and white. The white light in this experiment will act as their control, which is the variable that the experimenter keeps constant throughout the experiment in order to compare their results to.

The independent variable, which is the variable that is changed by the experimenter, is the color of light. The dependent variable is the variable that change is measured in, which is the height change, or growth, of the plants. After setting the plants underneath the colored grow lights, they monitor the growth of the plants for two weeks and compare their results to the growth of the marigolds under the white light.

Weathering and Erosion

Understanding the effects of weathering and erosion on a landscape is another important concept studied in fourth grade. Julie and Kevin are interested in learning more about how different rock types are affected by chemical weathering.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account