Blinding me with SCIENCE!

Science Fair Projects coverIdeas for Science Fair Projects

Submitter: We’re big fans of your site, here, and every time we’re about to get smug about how our fine Collection Development Policy means we’d never have anything to share, we trip into a big piece of humble pie out in our stacks.

For instance, the other day a mother needed books to help a kid with a science project. I knew that as well as some books on the student’s particular interest, we also might find useful books on science fair ideas in general in the early 500s. I was really alarmed to find the attached, copyright 1962 (though ours IS the 1966 printing!), sitting there — and only slightly less horified that the last check out was 2007. (Why didn’t the patron say something? Who the heck reshelved it?)

I’m sending scans to show that the book features useful stuff, like a chapter on research and the importance of going to the library, and another on what it would be like if you get to go to the National Science Fair! And I liked that there are lots of boys and girls participating. (A lot of white boys and girls, so I’m not giving an “A” for inclusiveness, here.) And I LOVED how dressed up they are! But any science book older than me – shoot any science book older than my teen advisory board kids! – has got to be shown the door. I discarded it even before I turned on the scanner.

Holly: Good find, submitter!  Amazing how old books like these just seem to appear out of nowhere when you SWEAR you had to have caught them all.  Their “display ideas” would give your science fair project a “vintage” look.

Choosing a topic

Science fair project

13th national science fair winners


  1. Unless it also has updates on all the consent forms, documents for live experimental subjects, and other now-necessary science fair stuff, weed it, please!

  2. As a hoarder of vintage science fair and children’s science experiment books I have to say that the books available today are often dumbed down and have only projects that are safe. Where’s the fun in that?

  3. Gee, in 1966 you might’ve had kids doing cool projects about how we might someday go to the moon, and what we might find there!

  4. I highly suspect the chemistry section has at least one “common every-day chemical” that’s now either a controlled substance or requires a HAZMAT endorsement on your license to be able to transport.

  5. If I were judging by the pictures of past winners, I’d say that you could still enter science fairs well into your 40s. No way are they high-schoolers.

  6. When my son was in high school, about 10 years ago, all he wanted to build was a perpetual motion machine. No helpful books on science fair projects could change his mind. My younger son did a project in grade school on math. He won first prize in the math section, mainly because nobody does math project. His was not as complicated as the third example you show.

  7. Oh, yeah, Artist, those are real teenagers from the ’60’s. I know this because i was a teenager then. (Gasp.) We did look much older than teens today do. It had to do with our clothes and hairstyles, I think. My dad came across a picture of me when I was about 17, and he said, “Who is THAT lady?” I looked older then than I did twenty years later!

    And by the way, that cover looks more like the front of a book published in the ’40’s.

  8. Of course I’m not familiar with how reshelving is done at submitter’s library, but I was a children’s department shelver for about 6 years, and questioning the relevance of an item in the collection would have been waaaaaaay outside my purview, as well as that of the circ workers doing check-in. I looked out for dirty* and damaged books, but collection maintenance was the job of the actual degreed librarians. (And I am one now, so I’m not saying this out of professional resentment or anything.)

    *I mean books smeared with gum, Kool-Aid, chocolate, etc.–not porn!

  9. Wow, we have photos of my dad with his science fair entries that look like they could come from this very book! Perhaps he checked this very title out from his library…

  10. I have such an intense visceral revulsion at the mere thought of science fairs, mine and my kids’, that I’d throw it immediately. And you seem to think their displays are antiquated: I could never do that!

Comments are closed.