10. Writing an Abstract

Writing Your Abstract

(Students in the LEUSD are typically not required to complete an abstract unless they advance past the District Science Fair. Check with your teacher to find out whether or not an abstract is required. )

     Your abstract is a quick summary of what you have done. It should be no more than one page long, which means that each word is important (use your thesaurus if necessary). If you expect judges to be excited about your project, then be sure to make your abstract interesting! At the county fair level, the judges will receive your abstract in advance of the fair so that they can preview your work and prepare for your interview.

Most abstracts should include all of the elements listed here, but all elements may not be appropriate for all categories.


Objective or Goal (Introduction):

Why should anyone care about the work you did? You have to capture your reader's interest and attention, telling them why this project is scientifically important. State the problem you were attempting to solve, or the idea upon which the project is based.

Example: My objective was to learn if the feeding

habits of hummingbirds are affected by color.


Methods (procedure) and Materials:

Describe your experimental procedure (make sure to mention your variables), and briefly mention any important materials you used during the completion of your project.


Summarize the results of your experiment making sure to use numerical data rather than simply describing your data using words like most or some.


What was learned from your project? Indicate if your results supported your hypothesis or enabled you to attain your objective. Discuss briefly how information from this project expands our knowledge about the category subject.


    Your abstract should be approximately 250 words. Write out your summary first without any thought about limiting your words. Once you have completed this task, read and re-read your abstract paying close attention to where you might be able to combine sentences or substitute words. Eventually your final abstract will clearly and concisely summarize your work, and the judges will be motivated to meet the bright young scientist responsible for this fine project!

    Keep in mind that abstracts do not include tables or graphs, acknowledgements, or any source information used in your research (like your bibliography). Don't worry about mentioning future plans in your abstract; leave that for your final conclusion.


Project Abstract Examples :


Which AA battery maintains its voltage for the longest period of time?

Advertisers are always touting more powerful and longer lasting batteries, but which batteries really do last longer, and is battery life impacted by the speed of the current drain? This projects looks at which AA battery maintains its voltage for the longest period of time in low, medium, and high current drain devices. The batteries were tested in a CD player (low drain device), a flashlight (medium drain device), and a camera flash (high drain device) by measuring the battery voltage (dependent variable) at different time intervals (independent variable) for each of the battery types in each of the devices. My hypothesis was that Energizer would last the longest in all of the devices tested. The experimental results supported my hypothesis by showing that the Energizer performs with increasing superiority, the higher the current drain of the device. The experiment also showed that the heavy-duty non-alkaline batteries do not maintain their voltage as long as either alkaline battery at any level of current drain.


The Frequency of Antibiotic Resistant E. coli in Alimentary Tracts

Objective: The objective is to determine if the average American has ampicillin- and tetracycline-resistant strains of E. coli in their alimentary tract.

Materials and Methods: Informed consent was obtained from 100 randomly selected people, 50 men and 50 women ranging in age from 10 to 92 years. An isolate of E. coli was obtained from the stool of each subject and grown in the presence of tetracycline and ampicillin. The area of inhibition was measured and compared to that of a non-resistant strain of E. coli. The percentage of sensitive and resistant organisms was determined by age and sex.

Results: Thirty percent of the men and 24% of the women were found to have ampicillin-resistant E. coli. The majority of the sample population was found to be under the age of 50. Slightly more people age 50 and over were found to be resistant than those under 50. Only 12% of both men and women were found to have tetracycline-resistant E. coli, with the older population again having a somewhat higher incidence of resistance.

Discussion: Penicillin and its derivatives such as ampicillin were the first commercially available antibiotics. Tetracycline was introduced later. The length of exposure to the antibiotics is reflected in the greater percentage of subjects with ampicillin-resistant E. coli (24% to 30%), compared to those with tetracycline-resistant organisms (12%). In addition, subjects age 50 and over who would have a longer life-time exposure to both antibiotics were more likely to harbor antibiotic resistant E. coli. These data suggest that antibiotics should be carefully dispensed and monitored by health care professionals.


The Effect of Surface Finish on Rocket Drag

Objective: My project was to determine if surface finish has an effect on the drag of a model rocket. I believe that a model with a smooth surface will have lower drag and will reach higher altitudes.

Materials and Methods: Five model rockets with identical size and shape, but different surface preparations, were constructed. One rocket was left with an unfinished surface, three had surfaces finished to various degrees of smoothness, and the fifth rocket had its surface sealed, primed, sanded to 600 grit, painted, and covered with clear gloss. The rockets were ballasted to weigh the same and flown 10 times each with B5-4 motors.

Results: The rocket with the clear gloss finish consistently reached the highest altitudes of all 5 rockets, while the unfinished rocket consistently reached the lowest altitude.

Conclusions: My conclusion is that surface finish has an important role in model rocket drag and rockets with carefully prepared surfaces will reach higher altitudes


The objective of my project is to develop a shelter that will address both the radiant and convection heat that is generated in wildfires. My goal is that this improved fire shelter will save the lives of wildland firefighters.
For my experiment, I built small scale fire shelters to replicate the actual fire shelters. I placed an egg in each shelter because an egg is made of protein and changes structure when exposed to heat. Then, I used different combinations of reflective shields and sodium polyacrylate and placed them in a 550 degree oven. After thirty minutes, I examined the egg to see the effects. My independent variable was the different elements: aluminum foil, sodium polyacrylate, air gap, and U.S. Forestry fire shelter. My dependent variable was the amount of heat that was reflected and amount of heat that passed through. My controlled variables (constants) included: standard oven, 550 degree Fahrenheit heat, propane torch, raw eggs, the measurement tools (laser digital thermometer and Oneida digital internal thermometer), construction materials, time in the oven and time exposed to open flame.
The best fire shelters need a combination of three elements. After thirty minutes, the fire shelter that withstood the heat best was the hydrated polyacrylate fire shelter with a reflective shield and an air gap. There was only an increase of 11 degrees inside the fire shelter after thirty minutes.
In conclusion, I learned the best fire shelter had to have a combination of a reflective shield, a hydrated polyacrylate insulator, and an air gap. This performed better than the hydrated polyacrylate with no reflective shield, the dry polyacrylate with a reflective shield, or the standard issued Department of United States Forestry fire shelter. I also learned that it is essential to have an air gap in the shelter otherwise convective heat will come in contact with the firefighter thus killing him/her. I proved my hypothesis that a combination of hydrated sodium polyacrylate, reflective barrier, along with air gap, is the best way to improve the insulation.