Science & Technology

exper1 Why 4H Science Projects?

The young people of New York have the imagination, intelligence and desire to help meet many of the challenges posed by food and fiber industries in the 21st century. This program provides teenagers with the scientific framework they need to make real contributions to the creation of environmentally sustainable systems. And of course, this whole process can be a lot of fun.
The ASSET Summer Teacher Program:
Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the College of Veterinary Medicine is offering (Advancing Secondary Science Education with Tetrahymena (ASSET) teacher training program for middle and high school teachers. Application due in June for July course.
For details see:

What does a young person do in this program?
With the help of an instructor, 4H leader or Cornell personnel, the young scientist or group selects an original hypothesis to test, a new subject to describe and/or an innovative public service project in an area of agriculture, human ecology or life science that the student really enjoys. The participant then carries out the project and presents the results.

Some tips on how to conduct a science fair project can be found in the Science Fair Project Guide for Kids at the “Internet Public Library”. To learn more about the scientific method, check out the: Science Buddies Website

Who can participate?
Any New York State resident who is nine by September 30th of the current year and less than 19 years of age on January 1, of the current year.

How do I sign up?
Contact your county or New York City Cooperative Extension office to register. Entries follow the Rules and Regulations in of the State Fair Youth Department Premium Book (Your county 4-H or Cooperative Extension office has these). Call your county’s Cornell Cooperative Extension office for more information.

What do I present?

After completing your project, you will summarize it on an exhibit with brief text, photos, graphs, or whatever you need to show the world what you did and how it turned out.

Here is an example project

What project should I do?

Your imagination, personal interests and creativity are the most important part of this program, so we don’t want to tell you what to do, but we will describe the range of topics involved and give examples of past projects from similar programs. Projects may be drawn from any aspect of the entire system of water, soil, plants and animals to the food, fabric, landscaping and wood products we consume and all the natural and social sciences related to that system. You or your group might conduct taste tests of new horse feeds, count all the blue birds in your township or reforest a cut-over woodlot. How does boiling time affect maple syrup color or flavor? How many people can you feed with 1500 square feet of garden? Projects could include community efforts to maintain both healthy streamside vegetation and livestock grazing, new ways of protecting foods from germs, testing a new dog food ingredient, contrasting the fertility of soils amended with different kinds of compost, invention of new products from sawmill or cheese plant wastes. The sky is the limit!

How will my project be evaluated?

Below are some examples of types of projects you may conduct. Any type or combination of the types of science projects below along with creativity is encouraged.

Experiments – Describe your hypothesis (what you think will happen), describe the procedures you performed, describe the observations you made and what conclusions you drew from your experiment. You must include photos or drawings and samples (if possible) of your experiment.

If it is difficult to recreate the study for the exhibit, drawings or photographs are acceptable. Use heavy poster paper (14″ x 22″ minimum) as a background. Glue or tape photos and diagrams, along with sheets of white paper that include your experiment description within these sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Hypothesis
  3. Methods
  4. Results
  5. What you conclude

Public Service Projects: These exhibits can be of any public service or public education activity you took part in that had a scientific component to it. Watershed rehabilitation, recycling programs and educational models are just a few of the possibilities here. In any case, the project exhibit posters must be clearly labeled with a written statement of what the project is, how it relates to science, and why you are interested in the project.

public serviceDescriptive Science: There are some science projects which are not experiments and are not applied service projects, but do consist of systematic observations and tell us about the natural world. Your exhibit could show summaries of what you observed (how the local bird population changes with the seasons, where flies like to breed in a barn, how many bites of food different animals take per minute, etc.) or you could present collections and classifications of materials which display physical or biological articles.

All project posters will be examined by a team of science professionals. The work will be judged on originality, design, validity and quality of presentation. For projects that include experiments (e.g. contrasting two treatments), your choice of hypothesis (what you thought would happen before you tried it) and how well you tested it will be important. Descriptive work will be judged on the quality and variety of observations taken and how they are compiled and presented. Public service projects will be judged on the approach, the importance of the work, and your understanding of the scientific basis for success of such projects. Your project may include more than one kind of investigation.

Here is a copy of the scorecard to be used

Important Dates

September to July – Conduct projects. Instructors and Cornell CE personnel are available for consultation.

August- Enter through your local Cornell Cooperative Extension (4H) office. Construction of poster presentations

August/September – Display selected projects at New York State Fair

Contact: Dana Palmer