Introduction: How to Enter the ® and Instructables Science Fair! Over $3,000 in Prizes!

Picture of How to Enter the ® and Instructables Science Fair!  Over $3,000 in Prizes!
UPDATE: contest extended to Sunday night, 2 September!
Sorry about that one- we always try to close on a Sunday night to give you the weekend to post! Use the unexpected time to make your project especially awesome.

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world's first man-made satellite, Sputnik. The United States answered with the Vanguard TV3, which rose four feet before exploding on the lauchpad. The perceived technology gap ushered in the space race, an era of unprecedented excitement and support for science and engineering. Engineering colleges were flooded with new students, while grade schools quickly scaled up their science curriculum.

Since then the world has become complacent, and the great powers are mostly at peace. Without a clear external foe, scientific motivation has withered. It's time to prepare the next generation of physicists, chemists, biologists, and engineers for the next great threat- from SPACE!

While our governments fritter away time and money on dubious space stations and malfunctioning probes, our species remains confined to a single planet. Manned spaceflight capabilities have dwindled, and funding cuts threaten scientific education and research. We're hardly ready to deal with a rogue comet or deadly space-borne spores, much less a full-blown alien invasion!

Thus, Instructables and's Industrial and Scientific store have taken a look back to the 1950s, and resurrected the best thing to come of the decade's spirit of intellectual competition: the Science Fair!

To enter the Science Fair, demonstrate and explain a physical principle in the Instructables format, and incorporate this lesson into a fun project. It can be your version of a classic project with better explanation or a neat twist, a home translation of a lab experiment, or something totally novel. Just take great pictures, explain the scientific principles clearly and thoroughly, build a great project, and get us excited about science!

Grand Prize
The grand prize winner for will receive a USD $1,500 gift certificate1, a custom laser-etched Leatherman Juice S2 multi-tool, and an Instructables Robot t-shirt.

First Prize
Four (4) first prize winners will each receive a USD $250 gift certificate, a custom laser-etched Leatherman Juice S2 multi-tool, and an Instructables Robot t-shirt.

Runner Up
Twenty (20) runners-up will each receive a USD $25 gift certificate, an Instructables patch, and stickers.

Family Collaboration
Two collaborating families will receive a matched set of Instructables Robot t-shirts and an acrylic Robot plaque laser-engraved with their names!

How to measure the speed of sound with two lumps of wood is a fine example of a simple project with a good, clear explanation. Since it's a simple experiment, variations in different media would be great.
DIY Kitty Crack: ultra-potent catnip extract does a great job explaining the physical principle of steam distillation, then applies it to an awesome home project. This is a nearly perfect example.
Mechanical Wave Driver for a Chladni Plate is a good-looking project, but would need a thorough discussion of the principles involved.
Photography in the Ultraviolet spectrum is a nice simple project that would need a thorough discussion of UV light to be a great Science Fair entry.
Levitate Objects in Mid-Air would need a good discussion of Bernoulli's principle instead of a link off-site. An explanation of the different effects from changing blower and object size would be even better. It would be fantastic when combined with a fun twist like Bernoulli's Slalom.
Diamagnetic Levitation Experiment does a good job explaining a neat project; with a bit more discussion it could be a truly great entry.
Blue Flaming Pinecones, with a good description of the chemistry involved in color change, would be most excellent if the flames were then analyzed using Naff Movie into 'DVD Spectra'.

1. Publish your Instructable and add it to the Science Fair! group from July 12th until 11:59pm PDT Sunday, September 2nd, 2007. Only projects published within these dates are eligible.

2. We want to see a great explanation, demonstration, and instruction on your chosen scientific principle. All branches of science are eligible- this is a broadly-defined contest! Be clear and thorough- readers should be able to understand the concept and replicate your experiment given access to appropriate tools. Remember, you're helping educate the next generation of rocket scientists!

3. Include a link to something used in your Instructable's research, development, or construction that could be bought on This includes parts like a magnet or some sheet metal, gear such as safety glasses, tools such as a drill, and references such as a magazine or a book.

4. Were your parents sad they couldn't help out with your school Science Fair project? Well, not only are we OK with it, we ENCOURAGE parent-kid collaborations! In fact, we're giving a special prize to the best family collaborations!

All contest entries will be judged for merit. Judges will evaluate each Instructable for the following:
  • educational value
  • entertainment value
  • completeness (photos and text for all important steps)
  • clear, concise text description including a properly summarized introduction
  • clear photographs (2+ megapixel preferred), use macro mode for close up shots
  • use of photo-notes where appropriate
  • list of parts and tools required (if appropriate)
  • safety notes (if appropriate)
  • usefulness
  • creativity
  • technical merit

Judges from, Instructables, and past contest winners will evaluate the entries by the above criteria, then vote for winners using range voting, the same system used in Olympic scoring. We'll announce the winners by Monday, 10 September 2007.

Helpful Links:
How to create a great Instructable
How to add an Instructable to a group
How to embed video into Instructables
Explore popular Instructables
Take a tour of Instructables

Additional Information
You must be 18 or older to enter. If you are under 18, you can still enter, but to win you will need to verify that you had the permission of a parent or guardian (we will have a permission slip for you). The best solution would be to have your parent join you as a collaborator on your Instructable to make you eligible for the Family Collaboration prize!

International entries are great! is a global company, and will be happy to give gift certificates to winners world-wide.

Instructables will send electronic gift certificates via e-mail to the prize winners within seven (7) business days after the winners are announced. gift certificates are awarded in US dollars only.

You may enter as many different Instructables as you like, however they will be judged on individual merit and you may only win one prize per contest. An Instructable may be entered in multiple contests if it meets the relevant criteria.

Winner is responsible for all taxes (we will remind winners at the contest's end.)

Amazon, and the logo are registered trademarks of Inc. or its affiliates. gift certificates are issued by A2Z Gift Certificates, Inc. and are redeemable only at See for terms and conditions of use of gift certificates.

Step 1: How We Judged the Science Fair

We judged the contest with range voting. Members of Instructables (past contest winners and people working at Instructables) and were invited to vote using a ballot with the following instructions:


Science Fair!

Please submit your vote by 6 AM PT Monday September 10th 2007.

Please vote for as many Instructables as you like. There is 1 page to this ballot. Please enter your Instructables username and email on each page of the ballot. If you don't have an Instructables username, list your affiliation and name under username; we will use this information to authenticate your ballot.

A vote of "9" indicates that the project should win. A vote of "1" indicates that the project should not win. A vote of "no opinion" does not affect a project's standing.

You can review the rules of the contest here. In short they are:
To enter the Science Fair, demonstrate and explain a physical principle in the Instructables format, and incorporate this lesson into a fun project. It can be your version of a classic project with better explanation or a neat twist, a home translation of a lab experiment, or something totally novel. Just take great pictures, explain the scientific principles clearly and thoroughly, build a great project, and get us excited about science!

The winners will be determined by range voting described here and here.

Please enter your Instructables username. Your vote will not be public; the fact that you voted will be public.

Please enter the email address associated with your Instructables account. We will use this to authenticate your vote.

As in the Olympics, the average score is the final determinant for each project. All projects with more than 50% of the potential maximum score are listed below, sorted by average score.

Instructable - Average - Sum - Votes - Standard Deviation - Percent of max
The Rubens\' Tube: Soundwaves in Fire! 8.45 - 93 - 11 - 0.7 - 100.0%
Build an antique style crystal radio 7.64 - 84 - 11 - 0.9 - 90.3%
Wiimote Rubens Tube: Control Fire With Sound! (And a Nintendo Wiimote!) 7.45 - 82 - 11 - 1.4 - 88.2%
The Hilsch vortex tube 7.30 - 73 - 10 - 1.3 - 78.5%
Kitchen laboratory II: The CO2 trap 7.13 - 57 - 8 - 1.8 - 61.3%
How to make air muscles! 7.09 - 78 - 11 - 1.4 - 83.9%
Preparing your own thin layer chromatography plates (and then using them) 7.00 - 63 - 9 - 1.8 - 67.7%
Electromechanical Transducer Out of a Polystyrene Conical Section! 6.91 - 76 - 11 - 1.5 - 81.7%
Kelvin\'s Thunderstorm - Create lightning from water and gravity! 6.91 - 76 - 11 - 1.1 - 81.7%
Make Potato Plastic! 6.90 - 69 - 10 - 1.8 - 74.2%
Kitchen laboratory: Proteins and Cheese making 6.78 - 61 - 9 - 1.7 - 65.6%
Building a better Guinea and Feather 6.64 - 73 - 11 - 3.0 - 78.5%
Growing Mushrooms: PF Tek 6.45 - 71 - 11 - 2.3 - 76.3%
Make Rheopectic slime in less than 15 minutes! (It is not Oobleck) 6.45 - 71 - 11 - 2.3 - 76.3%
8X10 foldable pinhole camera 6.36 - 70 - 11 - 1.6 - 75.3%
The Chaos Machine (Double Pendulum) 6.30 - 63 - 10 - 1.9 - 67.7%
Geodesic Dome Greenhouse 6.22 - 56 - 9 - 3.1 - 60.2%
The Bio-Battery - Power for the future. (So easy a 10 year old can do it.) 5.90 - 59 - 10 - 2.1 - 63.4%
Barbie Doll Electric Chair Science Fair Project! 5.83 - 70 - 12 - 2.5 - 75.3%
Motor Speaker 5.70 - 57 - 10 - 2.1 - 61.3%
A simple mechanical resonance demonstrator 5.45 - 60 - 11 - 1.9 - 64.5%
How to \"make\" plastic 5.45 - 60 - 11 - 1.9 - 64.5%
Make an Evaporative Terra Cotta Beer Chiller 5.33 - 48 - 9 - 1.5 - 51.6%
Measure the drag coefficient of your car 5.30 - 53 - 10 - 1.8 - 57.0%
Make a Voltage Controlled Resistor and Use It 5.22 - 47 - 9 - 1.6 - 50.5%
Be a scientist: make your own force meter. 5.17 - 62 - 12 - 2.1 - 66.7%
Build a solar hot dog cooker 5.09 - 56 - 11 - 2.0 - 60.2%
Measure the specific heat of water and other fluids 5.09 - 56 - 11 - 1.7 - 60.2%
Be a Scientist: Learn about Triboluminescence (or Lightning in your 4.80 - 48 - 10 - 1.9 - 51.6%
Hack The Spy Ear and Learn to Reverse Engineer a Circuit 4.80 - 48 - 10 - 2.7 - 51.6%
Be a Scientist: map your skin 4.70 - 47 - 10 - 1.9 - 50.5%
Let\'s go green! Build a Solar Powered Parabolic Cooker! 4.45 - 49 - 11 - 1.4 - 52.7%


lockpick (author)2011-01-09

Darn I missed it. Will there be a second one?

brainspater (author)2007-12-22

i got some good ideas , ill sell you a idea for $50.00 ea if I had 10 or more ideas

brainiac (author)2007-09-01

just seing if i had time my time is differend then instructables lol

canida (author)brainiac2007-09-09

We're working on Pacific time; our servers aren't.

jessyratfink (author)2007-08-29

I just saw the deadline was extended! Yippee! I've been procrastinating and things aren't going as I'd like, haha. I've been building this big table out of books at work and school just started, so this is good news. :D

drake (author)2007-08-09

In the 3rd grade, i won 1st prize making salt crystals. can i enter that?

canida (author)drake2007-08-22

Yes! Please be sure to explain the science behind it. If your parents collaborate with you, your project could be eligible for the special family prize.

Super_David (author)2007-08-21

my instructable cant add even tho it says it is added

ongissim (author)2007-07-12

This contest seems kinda long.

dan (author)ongissim2007-08-19

i was thinking the exact opposite. science projects usually take a bit more time than hobby projects, and considering the size of the prizes as well - i would think 2 months is a bare minimum, ideally more like 3. since the contests are only advertised on this site, allow the first 2-4 weeks just for infrequent site visitors to find out about the contest.

trebuchet03 (author)ongissim2007-07-12

Some science fair projects take time to complete ;)

Skyfinity (author)2007-07-23

Question: The project I'm formulating includes a few key science concepts, but they are almost overwhelmed by the projects historical value. There is science, but even more history. Does the Educational section of judging mean scientific education, or could all things go? Thanks!

canida (author)Skyfinity2007-07-23

It's hard to answer your question, since I don't know much about your project, but here's a general response. This is a science fair. Explaining the historical background, or the evolution of the concept can often be an important part of explaining the principle involved. Just make sure to explain the principle as well as its history! Also, we're usually open-minded about what fits in our contests- just do a neat project and explain it well.

Skyfinity (author)canida2007-07-23

Thanks, sorry I was so vague, but I just wanted to make sure. My project idea involves recreating John Harrison's first marine chronometer, which introduced ballance bars in the place of a pendulum. Kintetic energy, geographical concepts and a hunk of astronomy all come into play, allong with a glimpse into the past. Thanks for your response!

dan (author)Skyfinity2007-08-16

that sounds very interesting!

Bran (author)2007-07-29

I'm entering an Instructable, but am having difficulty taking pictures of quick, short "sparks" with my camera. Would it be okay if I were to use images found online? I made a forum topic, and even with people's help, I still can't get them on video or stills. Thanks, and this is a wonderful contest!

dan (author)Bran2007-08-16

turn off all the lights, then set your camera to do a very long (like 10 seconds) exposure. then it will capture any sparks that occur during the entire 10 seconds. you may need to add a very dim room light. it will require experimentation to get this right.

Punkguyta (author)2007-08-15

Where the hell do you guys get the money? Money laundering in the family? lol.. -Punk

retrodynamic (author)2007-08-14

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doublefry (author)2007-08-04

how come we can't have any contest's based around high voltage machines. we could have a whole background of the machine and clear easy instructions. these would be like "How to light your an entire house using a van de graf generator made from things from a dumpster" or "How to set up your own anti-burglar system using some trip wire and a 30,000 volt tesla coil" or even "How to send morse code using a climbing arc." any who the limits are endless and working with 7,000 volt transformers is fun.

canida (author)doublefry2007-08-07

They fit well within this contest- just be VERY CLEAR about the safety issues, and what skills/tools/equipment you need to work with high voltage.

doublefry (author)canida2007-08-09

sweet i think ill do this.

syribia (author)2007-08-01

This is a great opportunity to make my first instructable :) I have a nice and fun idea for explaining easily some concepts about proteins, but this is more Biochemistry related than just a physical principle, so my question is: Can I participate in the Fair science with a project like that? Hope the answer is yes.

canida (author)syribia2007-08-07

Certainly, yes! Biochem qualifies. It sounds like I should make a note above to clarify.

DeusXMachina (author)2007-08-04

Would a DIY Ostwalt Process count for the contest? It's more of a chemical process than a physical process but it's still really neat. @doublefry - Ever play Command & Conquer by any chance? "Ion cannon ready..." XD

canida (author)DeusXMachina2007-08-07

Chemistry is physical! Go for it. Remember, we're always in favor of wide interpretations of the theme.

doublefry (author)DeusXMachina2007-08-05

no but sounds koo thx :)

doublefry (author)2007-08-04

also is "how to build a theoretical ion cannon" acceptable? just wanna ask before i spend like... 8 hours explaining how to make an electromagnet. (some people just don't get it!!)

Resistor10 (author)2007-07-24

can only one user per household enter or any amount

canida (author)Resistor102007-07-30

From above:
You may enter as many different Instructables as you like, however they will be judged on individual merit and you may only win one prize per contest.

So, no problems.

leevonk (author)2007-07-30


srobot (author)2007-07-28

Am I still banned because I did 'unsafe' instructables?

Brennn10 (author)2007-07-21

This is awesome! I have to think of something to do!

SacTownSue (author)2007-07-19

Dear Mr. Robot, As usual you are a ray of sunshine and a cutie. You look more intelligent than ever sporting the safety goggles. The lab coat is definitely you. I am surprised, however, that you are not wearing a pocket protector. Is this a new trend? Sincerely, Sue

lennyb (author)SacTownSue2007-07-21

he doesnt seem to have any pockets sue. maybe thats the trend.

josh92176 (author)2007-07-20

Can stuff be shipped to the UK 'cause thats where I live?

Magnelectrostatic (author)2007-07-15

If you are under 18, do you need to sign the permission slip only if you win.

canida (author)Magnelectrostatic2007-07-16

That's correct.

Jack Attack (author)2007-07-15

im doing a science fair in school this year. too bad i have no idea what to do and everyone else seems to have something great already.

jessyratfink (author)2007-07-12

Hahaha, I will try to do electric chair Barbie. If nothing else, I'll get a good score for entertainment. ;)


GOGOGOGO! I wanna see a fried barbie =)

I'm hoping to at least melt her a little. I wish Barbies were better conductors... :P Maybe I should just put metal wires in her, haha.

canida (author)jessyratfink2007-07-15

Yes please! With video. It will definitely require video. You can explain conductors vs. insulators, and melting point. Maybe Barbie needs internal temperature sensors?

T3h_Muffinator (author)canida2007-07-15

OOH OOH! I feel an explanation on thermocouples coming!

5Volt (author)2007-07-15

...dang, I haven't anything suitable in mind yet 31 Aug isn't too close anyways ...Think Alex, think !

Brandon121233 (author)2007-07-15

For the item that can be bought on Amazon, can it be sold THROUGH amazon but not necessarily stocked by amazon?

canida (author)Brandon1212332007-07-15

Yes, that's fine.

randofo (author)2007-07-14

Can I play or am I still cash exempt? I just found an instructional manual I got at Barnes and Noble when I was 16 and I'm looking to lose a hand in the name of science.

canida (author)randofo2007-07-15

Just remember to add appropriate safety warnings! Instruct away.

Honus (author)2007-07-12

This should be a great contest! It'll be really exciting to see all the cool entries for this one. $1500 will buy a lot of books..... :)

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