2nd Grade Science Fair Project Ideas
Here are some ideas for 2nd grade science fair projects with short project descriptions/examples and links to the actual science fair projects. Some of this ideas could also be used for 1st and 3rd grades.
Hobby or Collection
Seed Collection. How do Plants Spread.
Goal of this 2nd grade science fair project is to study different ways that weeds use to spread around habitat. Plants can't walk. So how do they solve the problem of expansion into the new territory?
Some plants use their roots to spread and occupy more and more space. This is a special case. The shoots that develop in such kind of reproduction are in fact the same original plant - they are genetically identical. However this strategy may result in interesting situation when very big territory will be consumed by single plant which will look like many individual plants unless you bother to check their root system or DNA. The biggest and oldest plant on the Earth is not the huge sequoias or ancient araukarias but the Aspen colony in Utah which cover more then 43 hectares and claimed to be more then 80000 years old!
Most of the plants while occasionally using vegetative reproduction
mainly use seeds to spread out. In the process of evolution plants
developed many different techniques and strategies to do it efficiently.
- wind dispersal (dandelion, maple).
- water dispersal (some palm trees, pond iris).
- explosive dispersal (some plants from the Pea Family).
- birds that eat fruits and/or seeds.
- animals that eat fruits or nuts.
- animals hitchhiking also called Epizoochory.
In this project we are after the seeds that like to take a ride. And you're going to play the role of the host animal.
- Go to the nearest park or forest or bush.
- Put old large socks over your shoes.
- Go for a little walk.
- Carefully collect seeds that attached to the socks (and likely to your pants) and put them in plastic bag or container.
- At home have a close look at collected seeds. Use magnifying lens to see them better. Draw a pictures of the different seeds and try to figure what is different and what is common in the way they attach to their host.
You can extend this science project collecting and studying seeds that dispersed using different mechanisms. You can also try to germinate them and see what happens.
Model or Presentation
Insect anatomy and lifecycle.
If you don't have time to collect insects or you don't want to kill them but you're still interested in their fascinating world than making presentation about them is the way to go. For second grade science fair project first you'll need to study insect body plan.
Try to find answers for this questions (you may omit some of them for simplicity):
- How many eyes do insects have?
- Are there variations in the amount of eyes in the insects?
- What are the main parts of insect's body?
- How many legs do insects have?
- How many segments do insect's legs have?
- Do insects have an inner skeleton?
- What is metamorphosis?
Draw insect body and mark body parts.
Draw insect life cycles.
Check our Monarch Butterly page.
Compare insects body plan with body plans of other animals. For example you'll find differences in body plan of insect and mammal (human for example).
Some animals look very similar to the insects. Spiders are one of them. What are the differences between insect and spider anatomy? What are the differences between insect and prawn body plans?
Building a bird feeder and studying birds from your neighborhood can make excellent 2nd grade science fair project.
First of all let's check what kind of birds you may expect to see. Wikipedia has detailed bird lists for many regions and individual states. For example here is the list that cames up in the google search for "birds of California".
This lists can be pretty long. You probably would not like check every bird in it but it may help to learn more about birds that will come to eat from your feeder.
Even if you live in the urban area the amount of different species that will come may be quite big. Here is another valuable resource that will help you to find scientific names of your birds. It's called a visual bird key.
How to make a feeder?
One of the simplest solutions is this pine cone bird feeder.
Check other feeder types. They'll need some time and builder skills. Second grade children will need adult assistance to build them.
So what to do when feeder is ready? Set it up in a place which doesn't look dangerous from the bird's point of view. In other words it should not be close to the road, too far from the trees and open for view form any direction. Cats and dogs should not be able to reach the feeder.
Add food and clean up the feeder every day or two. Birds may not come right away. It'll take some time to get used to the new free food source. Make notes what time of day birds prefer to check the feeder (different species may prefer different time).
After week or two you should be able to start regular observations. For a 2nd grade science fair project try to answer the following questions:
- How many different species come to eat from your feeder?
- Can you count the amount of birds of each species?
- Are birds of different species eat together or they fight for food? Is there any species that "own" the feeder?
- Try to remember individual birds.
- Is there any specific direction the birds are coming from?
- Try to found scientific names for your birds.
- Try to make a photos of them.
- Birds are very active in the morning hours just after sunrise and before sunset. This probably will be your best observation hours.
- It's a good idea to buy binocular to watch birds from greater distances.
- Make sure the feeder is clean. Birds can share diseases through a dirty feeder.
- Make sure cats can not reach the feeder.
How much water do plants evaporate? (transpiration).
Believe it or not but plants do breath. They "exhale" carbon dioxide and oxygen (depending on lighting conditions). They use tiny little openings on the leaves called stomata that control the amount of gas exchange. They also loose water through them. This process called transpiration.
The goal of this science project is to find how much water plants evaporate depending on the type of plant and conditions of the environment. There are many ways you can perform transpiration experiment. You can check for example if there is a difference in amount of water that plant loose during the day or night, difference in amount of water plants loose in the sun or in the shadow, temperature, wetness of the soil etc.
For this easy experiment you'll need plastic bags of different sizes (look at the size of the tested plant), tape, and test tube or glass to collect water. Having camera to register the experiment results is always a good idea!
Carefully put plastic bag over the few leaves or small branch (if you compare different plants make sure that size of leaves and their amount in the bag is similar otherwise experiment results will be invalid). Wrap bag tight around the branch with the tape. Decide the duration of the experiment (for example 24 hours) Observe the bag every few hours. At the end of experiment time carefully collect water from (each) bag in the test tube or a small glass. This is the water lost by the plant to the air.
Plants are great climate regulators! During the hot day they loose the water and cool down themselves and the place where they grow. Knowing the amount of water lost by the few leaves in certain amount of time it's easy to calculate how much water gets back in the atmosphere from the whole plant...Well, maybe we'll do it next year... :)
Plant in the Maze.
You probably know about rats finding their way through a maze. Could
plant do something like that? Yes it could. As long as it can "see the
This simple experiment tests plant ability to grow toward a light source.
It's really easy to setup using the old shoe box and a few cardboard pieces.
Water Transport In Plants.
Water travels in the plants from roots to leaves and flowers. It carry minerals important for plant growth and development. There is an easy experiment that helps to make this plant water transport visible. You'll need 2 cups, food coloring, water and white carnation. Here you'll find simple setup for experiment on water transport in plants.
Normally plants do not have fast moving parts. Plants do move though, for example flowers can open and close petals during the day and leaves can move following sun. Plants also grow toward the light. Only few plants in the world can do fast movements and those plants are hunters!
For this experiment you'll need few plants of Venus Flytrap - carnivorous plants that can catch and digest insects. The goal of the experiment is to observe, study and draw catching mechanism of Venus Flytrap.
Materials: 2 Venus Flytrap plants. You can buy them in gardening shop. Match or cotton tip.
Easy experiment on Venus Flytrap behavior:
- Carefully rub trapping structure on one of the leaves. Watch how it snaps close catching the match. Draw (or take a photo of) open and closed trap. Snap few more traps, it's fun to do. You can even feed the plant - catch small insect and carefully set it inside the trap. Note that if there is nothing left in the trap it will open in few hours.
- Let's find out what part of the trap reacts to the prey. VERY carefully touch the edge of the trap (area with long green "eyelashes"). Does it react? What happens if you touch pink inner side of a trap (avoid the hair like structures inside the trap!). Does it react? Now what happens if we touch only one "hair" inside the trap ONCE? Does it snap? What if you touch one hair twice with minute interval? What if interval is less then a minute? What if you touch two different hairs with big and small time lapse?
- Write down the results! You'll become an expert in the carnivorous plant behavior.
Dead Air - Making Carbon Dioxide.
The goal of this easy experiment is to show how carbon dioxide is different from the normal air. This experiment should be carried by adult or under adult supervision.What you need:
- Few small candles.
- White vinegar.
- Put small candle in the bowl and lite it.
- Pour vinegar in the glass (~1/4 of glass volume).
- Add teaspoon of soda. Soda will promptly react with vinegar, reaction produces a lot of carbon dioxide as one of the reaction products.
- Quickly "pour" carbon dioxide in the bowl.
What happens with the candle fire? Carbon dioxide is heavier then air
and it does not support combustion, it will flow over the glass edge
and down to the bottom of the bowl replacing the air and extinguishing
the candle fire! The same principle is used in some fire extinguishers.