Middle School Science Fair Projects Botany

Middle school students may look for flashy science fair projects, but often the simple ideas are best. While it may help to have a project with an original twist, it is more important that the student thoroughly understands his or her project and can clearly explain it to the judges.

When looking for a Botany project, start by having your child research the basic elements a plant needs to grow, such as water, light, and air. Talk about each element and how changing one of the elements might affect plant growth. Including background research, such as a detailed drawing of the photosynthesis cycle, adds depth to a middle school level project.

Remember your Botany project should only change one of the plant’s needs. Most projects will require at least three identical plants or seed pots. One plant will be the control and receive no special treatment. The other two or more plants will receive your experimental treatment. Whether your project grows plants from seed or starts with small, evenly sized plants, take dated pictures frequently to record each plant’s progress.

You will need to come up with a hypothesis, which is a statement of the expected outcome. Don’t worry if the hypothesis turns out to be incorrect. The idea behind the project is to prove or disprove your hypothesis. Here are some project ideas to get you started:

Light – Plants use the process of photosynthesis to convert light energy into chemical energy. One common science project is to put one plant in sunlight, one under artificial light, and a third in total darkness. Think of other forms of light. Try keeping one plant in sunlight and put the others under different colored light bulbs (sold at party stores). You can also put one plant in sunlight, a second under a regular incandescent light, and a third under a special plant grow light.

Water – Plants need water, but will they grow bigger with plant food added to their water? A simple science project, is to compare plant growth with various plant foods. There are many plant foods to use. Try some that are organic, like TerraCycle, and one that is non-organic, like Miracle-Gro. Remember to have one control plant that is given plain water and make sure your plants are all grown in the same type of soil.

Air – Plants use carbon dioxide in the photosynthesis process. Botany projects based on talking to plants may involve the increased carbon dioxide given to plants through a person’s expelled breath. Try talking to one plant, singing to another, and keeping quiet around a third. Log your singing and talking time to make sure it is even. Also be careful to give all three plants the same amounts of water and sunlight.

Carnivorous Plants – Another approach to Botany experiments is to use meat-eating plants. In many experiments you can use one Venus Fly Trap as long as it has multiple traps. One idea is to study the plant’s digestive process and decide which types of food should digest more quickly. Feed each trap different types of food and record the digestion progress after two or three days.

Whatever science fair project you choose, make sure your child understands the concept well enough to be comfortable explaining it and answering the judge’s questions.