California State Science Fair
Project Categories 2002

The following categories, along with their definitions, related categories, and sample project titles apply to the 2002 California State Science Fair.

Category Examples Related Categories
1. Aerodynamics/ Hydrodynamics: Studies of aerodynamics and propulsion of air, land, water, and space vehicles; aero/ hydrodynamics of structures and natural objects. Studies of the basic physics of fluid flow. Effect of Dimples on Golf Ball Flight; Airfoil Stall Characteristics; Can Chaos Theory Predict Turbulence?; Low Drag Launch Lug for Model Rockets. Ballistics studies comparing other than different shapes or surface textures belong in Materials Science or Applied Mechanics.
2. Applied Mechanics/ Structures & Mechanisms/ Manufacturing: Studies concerning the design, manufacture, and operation of mechanisms, including characteristics of materials, dynamic response, and active/passive control. Antilock vs. Lock Brakes; Shock Attenuation in Baseball Helmets; Effective Sound Barrier Materials. Senior Division Only: Strengthening Concrete with Rice Ash Hull; Tensile Strength of Composite Materials. In the Junior Division, studies involving materials are included only for applications involving dynamic (in motion) environments. Engineering studies of soil stability during earthquakes belong in Earth Sciences.
3. Behavioral Sciences: Studies of learning, memory, perception, development, or linguistics using human or animal participants, including the effects of chemical or physical stress on these processes. Studies may focus on either normal or abnormal behavior. In the Senior Division, this category includes anthropology, archaeology, and sociology. A Study of the Senses in Stress Management; Does Age Affect Implicit Learning?; The Effectiveness of Flash Cards vs. Computer Scripts; Effect of Caffeine on Memory. Junior Division projects concerning sociology, anthropology, or archaeology, or which involve questionnaire surveys, belong in Social Sciences. Animal behavior projects belong in Zoology or Mammalian Biology.
4. Biochemistry/ Molecular Biology: Studies at the molecular level of biochemical or enzymatic pathways in animals (including humans), microorganisms, and plants. Studies of macromolecules (DNA, RNA, and proteins) in living things. Lipooxygenase Influence on Lipofuscin Granule Formation in Bananas; Effects of P1 Precursors on Virus Growth; Catalyzed Reactions of Enzymes; Isolation of Pre-mRNA Mutants in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Studies of the physical properties of biochemicals such as oxidation-reduction reactions belong in Chemistry. Functions of major organ systems belong in Mammalian Biology or Zoology.
5. Chemistry: Studies in which chemical and physico-chemical properties of organic and inorganic materials (excluding biochemistry) are observed. In the Junior Division, studies are more specifically of reactions in which materials change composition or phase. This implies knowledge of the chemical structure of materials being tested. In the Senior Division, studies may include characterization of chemical products found in everyday life without implying knowledge of the chemical structure. Determination of Ascorbic Acid Concentration in Orange Juice Using a Redox Reaction; Isolation, Purification, and Specific Rotation Determination of Ricinoleic Acid; Conductivity of Electrolytes; Does Water Purity Affect Surface Tension? Effects of Food Preparation on Vitamins. Chemical studies of metabolic processes or processes mediated by biochemical intermediates (e.g. enzymes) belong in Biochemistry.
6. Earth Sciences/ Planetary Sciences/ Physical Environments: Studies in geology, seismology, engineering geology, atmospheric physics, weather, physical oceanography, marine geology, coastal processes, and comparative planetology. Studies of environmental factors not related to living things, and of the effects of human activity on naturally occurring physical phenomena. Gravity Current Velocities; Beach Sand Fluctuations and Cliff Erosion; Dependence of Liquefaction upon Soil Composition; Solar Activity and Refraction Properties of the Ionosphere. Studies of the effects on physical phenomena by human activity involving pollution (as opposed to mechanical intervention) belong in Environmental Engineering. In the Junior Division, environmental studies using biological systems/ organisms belong in Environmental Science. Earthquake engineering projects belong in either Structures (Junior Division) or Applied Mechanics (Senior Division).
7. Electricity & Electronics: Experimental or theoretical studies with electrical circuits, computer design, electro-optics, electromagnetic applications, antennas and propagation, and power production. Satellite Reception Without a Dish; Transmission of Information by Laser; Effect of Solar Power. Projects that merely use electronics to study something else (e.g. hearing in birds) belong in another category (Zoology in this example).
8. Environmental Engineering: Projects which apply technologies such as recycling, reclamation, restoration, composting, and bioremediation which could benefit the environment and/or the effects of pollution on the environment. Newspapers as Mulch; Oil Control; Water Hyacinth: Primary Water Treatment?; What Soil Conditions Best Control Soil Erosion While Assisting Growth?; Designing a New Home Sewer System. Studies of the effect of pollution on the environment at the basic science level belong in the appropriate basic science category. For the Junior Division, studies involving changes to the environment on biological systems/ organisms belong in Environmental Science.
9. Environmental Science (Junior Division Only): Projects using biological systems/organisms to study the impact of natural and man-made changes on the environment. Examples of changes include: floods, fires, biohazardous spills, acid rain, and earthquakes. The Effects of Fires on Flora and Fauna; Rebirth after the Wild Fires; How Does Water Quality Affect the Abundance and Diversity of Micro-invertebrates; Bacteria Pollution in Our Beaches; Does Fire Stimulate Plant Growth? Studies performed within a normal physiological range under a sustained environment to examine the effect of substances or conditions on living things belong in the relevant basic science category (e.g. Plant Biology, Mammalian Biology, Zoology, etc.).
10. Mammalian Biology: Studies of growth and developmental biology, anatomy, and physiology in mammals. Studies of the behavior of all mammals (excluding humans) in their natural habitats (or reproductions of them). Effect of Age on Aerobic Abilities; Peripheral Vision; Correlation of Strength with Gender; Effect of Vaccination on Antibody Development in Neonatal Bovines. Projects studying physiology of birds, insects, etc. belong in Zoology. Studies of the effect of chemicals on a physiological function may belong in Pharmacology. Studies in which mammals serve as a model for human behavior belong in Behavioral Sciences.
11. Materials Science (Junior Division Only): Studies of materials characteristics and properties with respect to their static (not in motion) applications in the real world. Includes measures and comparisons of materials durability, flammability, and effectiveness for intended use. These characterizations do not imply knowledge of the chemical structure of materials being tested. Water Absorption in Eight Selected Hardwoods With and Without Sealants; Best Plywood for Homemade Skateboards; Cotton, Linen, Wool: Which One Lasts Longer?; Fire Resistance of Roofing Materials; Which Laundry Detergent Works the Best? Studies of fundamental properties of matter (e.g. specific heat, insulation) belong in Physics. Studies of materials in dynamic applications belong in Applied Mechanics. Strength of materials belongs in Structures.
12. Mathematics & Software: Studies in geometry, topology, real and complex analysis, number theory, algorithm analysis and optimization, artificial intelligence, computability, computer graphics, modeling and simulation, programming environments and languages. Maximally Dispersed Points on a Sphere; Computer Modeled Evolution; Knot Mathematics; Coupled Chaotic Systems and Stability; Mathematical Optimization of Multiple Precision Multiplication; Partitions of Positive Numbers; Neural Network Model of Vision. Projects using mathematics or computers as a tool in the study of a different subject belong in that category. Studies that merely model or simulate biological or physical systems usually belong in this category. Computer hardware projects belong in Electricity & Electronics.
13. Microbiology: Studies of epidemiology, genetics, growth, and physiology of bacteria, fungi, protists, algae, or viruses. Studies of Light Producing Bacteria; Effect of Light Before and After UV Damage to E. coli; What Sugars do Yeast Use? Projects using bacteria as a tool to study another subject belong in that subject. For example, a study using bacteria to monitor the effectiveness of disinfectants belongs in Materials Science. Studies measuring antibiotic activity belong in Pharmacology.
14. Pharmacology/ Toxicology: Studies of the effects of drugs, chemicals, and other factors (e.g. biological, physical, electromagnetic) at the cellular or higher levels on living organisms (e.g. animals, humans, bacteria, fungi, or plants). Effect of Caffeine on Daphnia; Effect of Insecticides on Mosquitoes; Vitamin Deficiencies; Copper Toxicity of Marine Embryos; The Effects of Petroleum Contaminated Water on Aquatic Plants; The Effects of Intermittent and Constant EMFs on Drosophila. Projects which study the effect of fertilizers on plant growth belong in Plant Biology. Studies of growth of microorganisms belong in Microbiology. In the Junior Division, studies of the toxic effects of environmental changes on biological systems belong in Environmental Science.
15. Physics & Astronomy: Studies of the physical properties of matter, light, acoustics, thermal properties and insulation, solar physics, astrophysics, orbital mechanics, observational astronomy, and astronomical surveys. Computer simulations of physical systems are appropriate in this category. Emissivity as a Function of Geometry; Do High Temperature Superconductors have a First Order Phase Transition? Which Material is the Best Insulator?; Chaotic Pendulum; Jupiter's Decametric Emission; Solar Activity and Geosynchronous Satellites. Studies of other planets themselves (as opposed to their orbits) belong in Earth Sciences. Antennas (i.e. rf electromagnetic propagation studies) belong in Electricity & Electronics.
16. Plant Biology: Studies of the genetics, growth, morphology, pathology, or physiology of plants. The Effects of Organic and Inorganic Fertilizers on Plant Growth; Effect of Rhizobium on Legume Plants (Pisum); Transpiration of Plants Under Different Light Sources. Studies which use plants to restore the environment may belong in Environmental Engineering. Studies of the effect of chemicals other than fertilizers on plants belong in Pharmacology. In the Junior Division, studies using plants which involve environmental changes may belong in Environmental Science.
17. Social Sciences (Junior Division Only): Experimental or observational (e.g. survey/questionnaire) studies of attitudes, behaviors, or values of a society or groups within a society, and of the influences of society or a group on behavior, attitudes, and/or opinions. Includes anthropology, archaeology, and sociology. Racial Awareness in Infants; Subliminal Persuasion by Television; AIDS Awareness in Teens; The Effect of Authority Figures on Group Decision Making. Projects in Psychology and Psychiatry belong in Behavioral Sciences. Senior Division projects appropriate for this subject category belong in Behavioral Sciences.
18. Structural Capability and Strength of Materials (Junior Division Only): Testing for strength and stiffness of materials used to provide structural capability; studies and testing of structural configurations designed to provide improved weight and force loading or stiffness capabilities. Bridge Design; Can Foam Make Steel Stronger?; To Build the Better Sand Castle; How Does Arch Curvature Affect Strength? How Do Different Foundations Stand Up to Earthquakes? Senior Division projects appropriate for this subject category belong in Applied Mechanics.
19. Zoology: Studies of growth and developmental biology, anatomy, and physiology in animals other than mammals. Studies of the behavior of all animals (excluding mammals) in their natural habitats (or reproductions of them). Hot Fish, Cold Fish: Respiration in Goldfish; Hearing and the Dominance Hierarchy of Crickets; Effect of Gravity on Living Organisms; Invertebrates in Kelp Holdfasts; Auditory Stimuli in Interganglial Neurons of Acheta domesticus; Bird Responses to Boar Rootings. Studies of mammals belong in Mammalian Biology. Studies in which animals serve as a model for human behavior belong in Behavioral Sciences.

Last updated: Mon Jan 28 20:37:12 PST 2002
California State Science Fair / Project Categories /