Science fair projects, history projects and classroom presentations are requirements in many upper elementary, middle and high school curriculums. As a parent or teacher, you can help students think of ways to design their trifold display boards, but ensure that the work is their own. Even though the academic content is most important, students can create trifold boards that have strong aesthetic and functional qualities.
Come up with a title that captivates and intrigues the audience, such as "The Mystery of the Sunken Ice Cube," if the topic is about the density of household liquids, or "A Devastating Experience: The Black Death," if the topic is about the bubonic plague. Add a separate cardboard title topper to the trifold board, and use oversized letter stickers or letter templates to design the title. Prefabricated cardboard title toppers have small slits that make them easy to attach to the display board, without having to use glue or other adhesives. A bold, dramatic title is the best way to catch viewers' attention.
Select contrasting colors so that words, images, photographs and charts jump off the page. Opt for a white, yellow or light blue trifold board and use either black, brown, red, hunter green or dark purple paper as background mattes behind the images and printed text. Stick with two or three main colors, so the board doesn't look cluttered or overpowered by color. Individual photos, graphs and charts can have lots of colors. Attach plastic foam balls, ribbon, content-related products or 3-D graphs with hot glue to give the board texture and dimension. For example, use plastic foam balls to represent the planets or attach empty cardboard toothpaste holders if the topic is about the most effective types of toothpaste.
Add photographs, such as before-and-after pictures of science experiments, images, symbols, graphs and charts to make the display board visually appealing. Lots of tiny text is distracting and hard to read. Use large fonts for subheadings and leave space between the content blocks. Superimpose a large image in the background or add a border around the board so that it looks like a giant picture frame. Or, make the entire board look like an object related to the topic. For example, if the topic is about leaves changing colors in the fall, design the board to look like a tree with branches and leaves. If the project is about the effectiveness of detergents, craft the display board to look like a giant bubble.
Use the table space in front of the trifold board for tangible objects that help support the topic. Use test tubes or beakers to illustrate scientific concepts or add visual cues to make the presentation come to life. For example, if the presentation is on the history of Legos, place several Lego structures on the table in front of the trifold board. If the topic is about plant growth, place one or two of the plants that the student analyzed on the table. Only place objects that are directly related to the project on the table and follow all presentation guidelines. For example, students might not be allowed to use electronic devices or artificial lighting, such as spotlights, to highlight the board.
- Illinois Institute of Technology: Science Fair Extravaganza: Balance of Text, Graphics, and Whitespace
- Illinois Institute of Technology: Science Fair Extravaganza: Your Guide to Color
- Discovery Education: How to Create a Winning Science Fair Display Board
- Science Buddies: Science Fair Project Display Boards