The Best 8th Grade Science Fair Projects

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8th Grade Science Fair Projects – Don’t make it harder than it has to be!

It’s happened. Your eighth-grader brought home an assignment that can strike fear into the hearts of parents everywhere.  It’s true. The science fair is upon us.  The teacher has given them a lengthy rubric outlining all the requirements and presentation methods their assignment must adhere to.  The scope of the project is enough to make your head spin if this isn’t something you’ve already done with them in 7th grade.  The hardest part for most middle-school students is selecting age-appropriate science experiments that can be completed independently.

Hark! Fear not brave parents, for choosing an 8th-grade science project doesn’t need to be scary or overly complicated. Your rookie scientist just needs to find a question (hypothesis) that they really want to answer. Being interested in the outcome (conclusion) of their own project is an important part of getting them to do the work willingly rather than begrudgingly.

Check out some of the best 8th-grade science fair projects we’ve found to get your budding researcher’s wheels moving! (And don’t forget your trusty lab notebook to record methods and observations!):

1. How Does Stress Affect Body Temperature?

Materials:

  • Thermometer
  • Stopwatch
  • Volunteers

    A classic mercury thermometer.

Image by HeungSoon from Pixabay

How it’s done:

This project could illustrate why your student literally sweats that math test every week. Have your volunteers perform a timed math test or a series of difficult puzzles.  Take their temperature before and immediately after the high-stress activity, record, and compare! Did your volunteers stay cool under pressure? How did stress affect their temperature regulation?

2. Which Beverages Release the Most Gas?

Materials:

  • Balloons
  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Heating Pad
  • Bottles with narrow necks
  • Water
  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Milk

A glass of milk and a glass of juice sit on a table next to a spoon.

Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

How it’s done:

When is a balloon actually a belch?  In this project of course!  Pour equal amounts of different beverages into individual bottles and add vinegar (to act like our stomach acids).  Placing the bottles on a heating pad will speed up this “mock digestion”.  One of the properties of gas states that gases expand to fill their container.  Expanding gases will inflate the balloons that have been stretched over the opening of the bottle, visually illustrating which beverage releases the most gas!

3. What Effects Do Carbonated Drinks Have on Meat?

Materials:

  • 3 types of meat (i.e. steak, chicken, salmon)
  • 3 containers
  • 6 cans of carbonated soda

A small pile of cubes of raw meat on a cutting board.

Image by PDPhotos from Pixabay

How it’s done:

Did you know soda has a similar pH level to the human stomach? So soda should be able to digest meat as our stomachs do, right?  To test this hypothesis, place each different meat into a container and cover it completely with soda.  Observe the meat over several days.  Record observations.  Students can even weigh the meat before/after the experiment to include quantitative data along with their visual observations. Read more about why this science project works the way it does!

4. Create an Optical Illusion With an Infinity Mirror

Materials:

  • Cardboard box
  • Mirror (same shape as the container)
  • Mirrored window cling
  • LED Christmas lights
  • Adhesive
  • A sheet of plexiglass or acrylic
  • Cutting tool

Two bathroom mirrors make what appears to be a never ending reflection of each other, similar to the effects of an infinity mirror.

Image by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay

Mirror, mirror on the wall – Are you a mirror or a never-ending hall? Your student will create an optical illusion with some inexpensive and basic supplies.  Use adhesive to secure the mirror to the floor of the box.  LED bulbs are inserted through holes in the walls of the box.  The visual trickery lies in the mirrored window cling viewing window.  Check out this optical illusion in greater detail!

5. Can We Distill Saltwater With Solar Power?

Materials:

  • 2 plastic containers
  • 2 cups
  • Drill
  • 25 mL graduated cylinder
  • 800 mL beaker
  • Thermometer
  • Modeling Clay
  • 2 5mL funnels
  • Flexible straws
  • Steel washers
  • Rubber bands
  • Tape
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Plastic Wrap

Droplets of water that appear to be evaporation or condensation are gathered and sliding down a smooth surface.

Image by Comfreak from Pixabay

How it’s done:

When ocean water evaporates, the salt is left behind. Collect this desalinated water with a simple DIY contraption. Containers of saltwater placed in the sunshine will begin to evaporate.  Cling wrap will cover the containers to collect evaporation. Use the heavy washers on top of the cling wrap to guide droplets of evaporated water down a gentle slope into the funnel.  The funnel and straw will empty into a waiting cup.  Cover the cup so no freshwater evaporates!  Check out a detailed assembly of the water distiller!

6. Are Our Fingerprints Inherited?

Materials:

  • Paper Towel
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Tracing paper
  • Pencils
  • Clear tape
  • White paper
  • Magnifying glass
  • Volunteers – 15 pairs of siblings, 15 pairs of unrelated individuals

A dark fingerprint on white paper.

Image by Thanks for your Like • donations welcome from Pixabay

How it’s done:

Volunteers can touch tracing paper that’s been heavily scribbled on with pencil.  Place the index finger onto the sticky side of a piece of tape. That piece of tape now holds a clear fingerprint!  Using the magnifying glass, compare the fingerprints of siblings and non-related volunteers and record. Are they the same pattern? Read up on fingerprints to feel like a real detective!

7. Owl Pellet Fossil Reconstruction

Materials:

  • Owl Pellet (available online)
  • Clean paper
  • Tweezers, needles, and/or wooden probes to deconstruct pellet
  • Owl Pellet Bone Chart
  • Small papers to separate bones and waste between

An in-tact owl pellet lies on a wooden surface, with a second own pellet in the background.

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/79225513@N00/40189350/”>edwaado</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

How it’s done:

Owl pellets (think cat hairball) hold evidence of an owl’s most recent meal. Gently use tweezers, needles, or wooden probes to separate the owl pellet into four quarters.  Carefully pick the quarters apart, and set aside the animal bones on a separate sheet of paper. Think of it like a treasure hunt – a really gross treasure hunt.  Use a bone chart to reconstruct and identify the animal found in the pellet.

8. How Does Color Affect Heating? A Look at Light Absorption

Materials:

  • 6-8 identical glass jars
  • 6-8 pieces of colored construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Water
  • Thermometer
  • Modeling Clay
  • Heat Lamp
  • Timer or clock
  • Drill for making holes in jar lids

A circular array of multi-colored paper.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

How it’s done:

Wrap each jar with construction paper.  Fill each jar with equal amounts of room temperature water.  Take an initial temperature reading, and then another after each jar has been sitting beneath the heat source for an amount of time (i.e. – 30 minutes).  Record your observations, and decide if there is a particular color that absorbed more light/heat! Read about the science behind this project in depth.

9. Homemade Hand Warmers

Materials:

  • Jelly crystals
  • Small cup
  • Iron Fillings
  • Calcium Chloride
  • Zipper-Lock Bag
  • Water

A woman wearing warm clothes appears to be blowing on her hands to warm them.

Photo source: Pexels

How it’s done:

You may find yourself repeating this project for a cold night of trick-or-treating or winter caroling.  Fill the small cup with water and ¼ tsp. of the jelly crystals.  Allow time for water absorption.  Add iron fillings and Calcium Chloride to the bag.  Manipulate the bag to mix ingredients.  Feel the heat!  You can add numerical data to this experiment by taking the temperature of the polymer beads throughout the experiment.

10. What Makes a Diaper Absorb Moisture?

Materials:

  • New baby diaper
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Zipper-lock bag
  • Small plastic cup
  • Water

This image shows the lower half of a baby wearing only a diaper, slightly covered by a baby blanket.

Photo by Harry Grout on Unsplash

How it’s done:

It’s probably been a while since you had diapers in your house if you’re helping your 8th grader with homework.  You can use scissors to open the diaper.  You’ll collect polymer powder from the diaper’s stuffing into a cup.  Pour water over and watch as the polymer gels.  You can increase the research level of this project by comparing diaper brands and measuring the water quantities each diaper can hold.

11. What Door Handle in the School Holds the Most Bacteria?

Materials:

  • Bacteria growing kit (Petri dishes with agar)
  • Sterile cotton swabs
  • Magnifying glass

A blue gloved hand holds up a petri dish that is rife with bacteria and growth.

Photo by Adrian Lange on Unsplash

How it’s done:

Try to talk your kid out of wearing gloves to school for the rest of the year after completing this project.  Using sterile swabs, sample 5 dirty doorknobs at the middle school. Rub the swab in the petri dish, cover, label, and date. Get ready to be grossed out.  Observe the Petri dishes over the next few days and keep detailed records of the growth.  Which door handle hid the most bacteria?

12. Why Do We Need Tendons? Engineering a Bionic Hand

Materials:

  • ¾ inch dowel rod
  • 1-inch X 4-inch pine plank
  • 5 bags of small screw eyes (eyelets)
  • 2 rolls of nylon string
  • Wide rubber bands
  • 1 open eyelet
  • White spray paint
  • ¾ inch sheetrock screws (x2)
  • Basic power tools used under close adult supervision (grinder, jig saw drill press)

A white robotic hand reaches out to touch the tip of the index finger of a genuine human hand over a yellow background.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

How it’s done:

This experiment will make your child feel like Tony Stark, and teach them a bit about human anatomy.  You’ll cut and grind dowel rods to make mock “bone segments”.  Eyelets are inserted into bone segments where “tendons” and “ligaments” (string) will attach.  Spray paint all the bone segments white, for an authentic skeleton look.  The pine plank makes up the palm/wrist area. Assembling this bionic hand will earn you a high five from your teacher.

13. Which Mouthwash is Most Effective at Killing Bacteria?

Materials:

  • Multiple brands of mouthwash
  • Petri dishes with agar for growing bacteria
  • Sterile swabs
  • Tape

A young lady with her mouth open wide and her tongue sticking out.

Photo by Hayes Potter on Unsplash

How it’s done:

We predict your child will better about dental hygiene after this science project.   Swab the inside of your student’s mouth a couple of hours after eating, and apply the sample to the petri dish. Use the mouthwash according to the label, rinse with water, then take a second sample with a new swab.  Be sure to label each dish carefully. Repeat for each mouthwash type and compare bacterial growth. Try not to be grossed out, and determine which brand of mouthwash works the best!

14. Can Caffeine Make Us Faster Typists?

Materials:

  • Caffeinated beverage
  • A decaffeinated beverage (soda or coffee)
  • Word Processing Program
  • Stopwatch
  • Test Subjects

This is an image of a computer keyboard, a watch, a planner, and a cup of coffee, along with a pair of hands. The left hand on the keyboard, the right hand gripping the coffee.

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

How it’s done:

Volunteers will type: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” as many times as possible in one minute after ingesting a non-caffeinated beverage. Repeat the timed typing exercise after a decaffeinated beverage. Keep your volunteers in the dark about which beverage is caffeinated!

Editor’s note:  Let us know how this project works out – We might need to install a new coffee machine in the office for faster blog posting!

15. Can we see sound?

Materials:

  • Uncooked rice
  • Plastic wrap
  • Large bowl
  • Sound source (Speaker, Pots and Pans, etc)

Grains of white rice lay in a pile on a white surface.

Photo by Melanie Martinelli from FreeImages

How it’s done:

When your teenager blasts their music, it can feel like they’re banging on your brain!  Show them how those sound waves look.  This project lets us visually see the movement of grains of rice created by sound waves from loud noise nearby.  You can use pots and pans or a stereo speaker as a sound source.

16. Investigating the effects of external stimuli on carnivorous plant digestion

Materials:

  • 3 Dionaea muscipula of similar size
  • Small crickets (available at any pet store)
  • Tweezers
  • 3 temperature controlled locations
  • Thermometers

A Venus Fly Trap plant with multiple "mouths".

Photo by shannon robalino from FreeImages

How it’s done:

Plants straight out of a science fiction movie are enough to make any student interested in this project!  You’ll look at external stimuli effects on the digestion time of the Venus flytrap.  Plants are placed in locations where temperatures can be monitored and controlled.  “Feed” the plant a cricket.  After the plant snaps shut, monitor how many days each plant spends digesting the insects.  Do warmer temperatures speed up digestion?  Make sure your student doesn’t try to feed their little brother to the plant.

17.  Determining the Iodide content of different types of salt.

Materials:

  • Plastic cups
  • 100mL graduated cylinder
  • Distilled water
  • Laundry starch solution
  • Iodine antiseptic solution
  • Medicine dropper
  • 5 types of salt
  • Hydrogen peroxide solution
  • Vinegar

Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

How it’s done:

Tell your eighth grader there’s no reason for them to be ‘salty’ about a little hard work.  This project is inexpensive and has a short observation.  First, create a solution of distilled water, laundry starch, and iodine.  Stir and set aside.  Mix salt and distilled water and stir. Add 15mL of vinegar, then 15 mL of hydrogen peroxide.  Add 2.5 mL of the starch solution you set aside. Repeat these steps with each salt. What colors are you seeing?

18. What material blocks UV light most efficiently?

Materials:

  • UV reactive beads (available at most craft stores or online)
  • Ultraviolet lightbulb (or a sunny day)
  • Sunglasses, UV protecting clothing,sunglasses, sunblock, umbrella
  • Camera

This image is a large collection of white beads, which is what UV sensitive beads look like prior to exposure to sunlight.

Photo by ingela nordlund from FreeImages

How it’s done:

This project will have your teenager arguing a little less about wearing sunblock on the next family vacation.  UV reactive beads change from white to vibrant colors when exposed to UV light.  You can coat the beads with sunblock, place them under sunglasses or UV protectant clothing, and compare the color changes.  You can compare sunscreen brands or SPF levels with this project.  Check out these UV sensitive beads in action.

19. How much electromagnetic radiation is emitted during cell phone use?

Materials:

  • Working cell phone
  • Measuring tape
  • Radio frequency meter

A hand with painted fingernails prepares to tap a touchscreen <mark><mark><mark><mark><mark><mark>cell phone</mark></mark></mark></mark></mark></mark>.

Photo by Rob Hampson on Unsplash

How it’s done:

Is your teen obsessed with their cell phone? This experiment may make them hesitate to send that next text!  Use the radio frequency meter to test the electromagnetic radiation power emitted from all sides of the phone when a call is coming in, as well as when a text message is coming in.  Record the data, and analyze when complete. Does the amount of power differ when calling or texting? Does it decrease with distance?

20. What makes ice melt fastest?

Materials:

  • Ice cubes – same shape and size
  • Glass bowls
  • Sand
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Calcium chloride (available at local hardware stores)

A glass of melting ice rests upon a stack of books.

Photo by Truong Dat on Unsplash

How it’s done:

Is your science fair student old enough to shovel the walk this winter?  They could use this experiment to go the extra mile in de-icing the walk to the mailbox. Place the same number of ice cubes into separate bowls.  Apply each melting material to the ice.  Observe the melting ice.  Which bowl melts first? Record your results in your lab notebook.  Repeat the experiment several times for accurate results.

21. Engineering earthquake-safe skyscrapers – Which design is the most stable

Materials:

  • Lego bricks
  • 10X10 lego base plate
  • Rubber bands
  • Rubber balls
  • Plexiglass
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Smartphone and Google’s free science journal app (It has an accelerometer feature.)

An assortment of multicolored legos fills this image.

Photo by Markus Spiske from StockSnap

How it’s done:

Are you an architect?  See if your structure designs can withstand the seismic activity of your shake-table.  Sandwiching four rubber balls between two sheets of plexiglass with rubber bands forms the base of a shake table that acts like an earthquake. Test the structural integrity of lego skyscrapers of different sizes and shapes.  This project utilizes a cool (and free) Google feature called the “Science Journal App”.

22.    Can you extract and store your own DNA?

Materials:

  • Beaker
  • Test Tube
  • Lab scoop
  • Isopropyl Alcohol (95% concentration) chilled in the freezer
  • Dropper
  • Paper cup
  • Gloves
  • Salt
  • Distilled water
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Wooden skewer

A multicolor digital recreation of a strand of DNA

Photo by Svilen Milev from FreeImages

How it’s done:

Sparking an interest in forensic pathology could start with this crazy cool project.  First, create a saline solution with distilled water and salt.  Swish it around in your mouth for thirty seconds.  Spit it back into the paper cup and pour a bit into the test tube.  You’ll add a couple drops of liquid dish soap, some isopropyl alcohol, and voila! A milky white thread of DNA appears suspended in the test tube, ready to be wound around a wooden skewer.  You can freeze it in a vial for indefinite preservation!

23. Which soil type is most fertile for seed growth?

Materials:

  • 4-6 different soil types
  • Easy-to-grow-seeds like beans
  • Small pots or jars
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic bag
  • Ruler

A garden trowel filled with dark soil is spilling some to the ground. Flowers can be seen in the background.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from StockSnap

How it’s done:

This project is simple and inexpensive but may take a few weeks to track.  Start seeds in a ziplock bag between layers of damp paper towels.  Transfer seeds carefully to jars of soil.  Be sure to water them equally, and place them in a location where they have access to even amounts of sunlight.  Track and record plant height and appearance over several weeks and compare.

24. Create your own pH level test strips.

Materials:

  • Food processor
  • Red cabbage
  • Distilled water
  • Pot and burner
  • Strainer
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Coffee Filters

A head of purple cabbage sliced in half.

Photo by Morten Strunge Meyer from FreeImages

How it’s done:

Creating their own testing supplies ups your scientist from rookie to novice! Add chopped red cabbage and boiling water to a food processor.  Give it a good whir, and then strain the mixture.  In a bowl, combine cabbage mixture and alcohol.  Dip the coffee filters into the solution and soak them.  Remove them to dry.  Cut dry filters into strips and store in a dry place for use in awesome future science projects!

25. Can simple plants protect landscapes from soil erosion?

Materials:

  • 6 empty 2-liter bottles
  • 1 piece of plywood
  • Wood glue
  • Scissors
  • String
  • Soil
  • Plant seedlings
  • Mulch
  • Water

In this photo, young hands are seen gluing two-liter bottles horizontally to a wooden plank. One of the two liters is already filled with soilThis is the fully assembled project with three two-liter bottles, each containing different soil situations. One of the bottles has vegetation in it. All three bottles have a run-off collection bin hanging from the neck of the bottle.

How it’s done:

This project shows your child how important vegetation is to keep the shape of our landscapes.  This is a great experiment if heavy rains are a part of your everyday landscape.  Create three different soil situations inside the two liters.  Pouring water through the two liters and into a waiting catch basin shows us how much soil erodes with water/rain, and how plants offer some protection from erosion.

26.    Do breath mints actually cool your mouth?

Materials:

  • Strong breath mints
  • Thermometer
  • 250 mL beaker
  • Bottled water

This image shows a desk surface with multiple items and a computer keyboard, as a hand reaches for an Altoid brand breath mint.

Photo by Jeremy Dorrough on Unsplash

How it’s done:

The cool, minty feeling of a breath mint can’t just be an illusion, right?  Test the theory!  Add breath mints to room temperature water.  Stir gently for ten seconds.  Take the temperature of the water every 30 seconds for four minutes.  Record and compare the temperatures.  Is it really cooling your mouth?  You could offer the judges at the science fair a breath mint during your cool science presentation!

27.    What is leaf chromatography?

Materials:

  • Soft, fresh, green leaves (spinach will work)
  • Scissors
  • Food processor (or mortar and pestle)
  • Glass cup
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Coffee Filters
  • Tape
  • Pencil

Photo by Artur Rutkowski from StockSnap

How it’s done:

You’ll be amazed at the different colored pigments hiding in a green leaf.  Grind your green leaves into a pulp.  Add some isopropyl alcohol to cover the pulp.  Dip the coffee filter strip in until just the end touches the liquid.  As colors climb the coffee filter, they’ll separate.  Wait until the liquid has climbed to the top, then remove.  You can analyze and even identify the types of pigments on the strip such as chlorophyll, carotenoids, and xanthophylls.

28.    Which plants can resist the poison of a Black Walnut Tree?

Materials:

  • Radish seeds
  • Young tomato plants
  • Distilled water
  • Black Walnut hulls
  • Measuring cup
  • Plastic storage containers
  • Cooking pot
  • Stopwatch
  • Potting soil

Black Walnut hulls hanging from a black walnut tree, encased in a tough green outer covering.

Image by JamesDeMers from Pixabay

How it’s done:

It’s a little known fact that Black Walnut Trees produce a substance known as “juglone” that is toxic to surrounding vegetation through a process called allelopathy.  It’s a pretty dark defense mechanism.  By boiling the black walnut hulls, you can create a juglone contaminated water source and observe its effects on other plants.  You may have a botanist on your hands by the time it’s over!

29.    Can a parabola improve wireless signal for at-home learning?

Black Wireless router with three antennae.

Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay

Materials:

  • A 20 x 15 cm piece of corrugated cardboard
  • 20 x 25 cm piece of thin cardboard
  • Aluminum foil
  • String
  • Duct tape
  • Metric ruler
  • Scissors
  • Box cutter
  • Glue
  • Protractor
  • Poster board
  • Wireless Router
  • Cell Phone
  • A program that analyzes the strength of your wireless signal

How it’s done:

This project can be helpful for students participating in virtual learning on a weak wireless signal.  Download Sciencebuddies.org’s Parabolic Reflector Template to begin this project.  Print and cut! This template will help you create a concave, aluminum foil covered parabolic reflector.  The reflector, when placed on the antennae of a wireless router, can be adjusted to increase or decrease signal strength. Perhaps this project will help your family share the internet.

30. Is the pH level of rainwater in urban areas more acidic than in rural areas?

Materials:

  • pH testing strips (full range)
  • 3 containers

A black and white photo of a bucket collecting rainwater.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

How it’s done:

Humankind’s impact on our world is not always visible, but this has the makings of a powerful pollution project.  You may be able to use Project #25 on this list as a partner project. Collect rainwater in an area near a busy urban freeway.  Collect rainwater in a suburban area.  Collect rainwater in a rural area.  Test the pH level of multiple samples and compare.  What do the pH levels say about possible pollution in those areas?

What’s The Big Deal With Science Projects Anyway?

Every amazing discovery in our life was made by a researcher who did a science project.  Computer programs, apps, vaccines, and medicine are all products of scientists’ project results.  Make sure your budding researcher knows STEM education is the future.  Learn why STEM Education is our world’s most important asset. And don’t forget the eye protection!

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