Fast and Easy to Do
Need to complete a science fair project fast? Do you love animals? This unique science fair project lets you compare the number of breaths different animals and people take while resting or after exercise. All you need is:
- a clock,
- a pen and notepad, and
- some animals and people willing to help.
Everything Starts With a Question
Like all science fair projects, this one started with a question asked by my daughter Sophie. She asked, "I know all animals and people need to breather, but do they take the same number of breaths?"
Sophie decided that she wanted to test our dog, Violet, and our cat, Sweetpea. If you have some other pets like rabbits, mice or guinea pigs, you might want to add them to the test. You might even be able to test some animals at a pet store, or maybe try asking your neighbors if they have a pet you can use. You can choose one of the following groups to test.
You probably should have at least 5 subjects:
- several dogs of different sizes, or breeds
- old and young dogs
- several different types of pets
- pets and people
Start your project by asking questions that your experiment can answer. You need at least one question. Sophie asked two questions:
- What is the difference in breathing between different animals and people?
- What is the change in breathing when we rest and when we exercise?
Along with writing your questions and your hypothesis (guesses of the answers to your questions), good science fair projects include a purpose statement. The purpose statement explains why you are doing the experiment. Sometimes, it also ties the experiment in to a larger scientific question.
My purpose is to find out how fast different kinds of animals and people breathe and to find out the difference in breaths we take when we are resting and when we are exercising.
After you have asked your questions, you need to make a guess of what the answers will be. That guess is called your "hypothesis." Write down your hypothesis before you start your experiment.
Sophie, who was in second grade when she did this experiment, spent a lot of time thinking about her hypothesis. Here is what she wrote:
- I think that the smallest animals and people will have faster breathing and the bigger animals and people will have fewer breaths per minute. I think that animals breathe faster because they are basically smaller. My sister, Steffi, and our dog, Violet are about the same size and weight, but I think that Violet will breathe faster because I think animals may have to breathe faster because they need to run away from predators. Also, Violet is an adult dog and Steffi is a child, so I think she might breathe faster.
- I think that we will breathe five more breaths per minute when we are exercising. I think Violet will breathe 20 to 25 times when resting and about 30 times a minute when exercising. I think I will probably breathe about 15 breaths when resting and then about 20 breaths while exercising.
Note: We have corrected the spelling and punctuation on Sophie's typed entries.. It is perfectly acceptable for students to dictate and parents to type on the computer for elementary students. Or to make sure everyone knows the child really did the project, they can write on notepaper in their own handwriting. Check your teacher's instructions.
Materials and Equipment
On your science fair board, you want to include a list of everything you used in your experiment. Real scientists have to be very detailed in explaining how they did their experiment. Someone should be able to look at your materials and equipment list, and look at your procedures and then be able to repeat your experiment, so be sure to give lots of details.
Sophie's Materials and Equipment List:
- People and animals to test
- balls to play with and a place to run
- Mom (48)
- Maggie (14)
- Mollie (8)
- Steffi (6)
- Violet (adult dog)
- Sweetpea (adult cat)
The procedures section of your science project is where you tell exactly what you did. Give as many details as you can, so that your reader can understand how you did your experiment step by step. Don't forget to take pictures to show your procedure.
- I will test different people and animals to see how many breaths they take in one minute.
- First, I will test them when then have been sitting and resting for a while.
- I will count how many breaths they take in one minute. I will use the stopwatch to keep track of the time and count their breaths and then record them on a chart.
- I will do this for three times for each person or animal so that I will have three resting trials per person.
- Next, I will have the person or animal run around for a few minutes. We will run on our grass in the backyard and play with a ball, or play tag. Then we will stop and test their breaths for one minute and record them.
- I will do three trials for each person or animal exercising. We will be sure to run around before each trial.
- I will make a chart of my results and see if it matches my hypothesis.
|Name and age or animal type||Resting trial 1||Resting trial 2||Resting Trial 3||Average (rounded)||Exercise Trial 1||Exercise Trial 2||Exercise Trial 3||Average of Exercise Trials|
N/A-it was hard to get a cat to exercise!
Sophie and Violet
After you have done all your trials of the experiment and recorded everything on your chart, take a look at what you have discovered. Compare it with your hypothesis. Your conclusion will answer some or all of the following questions:
- How do the results compare with your hypothesis?
- Was your hypothesis correct?
- What surprised you about your results?
- Can you explain your results?
- Did any part of your experiment not work, or have problems?
- If you were to do another experiment or do this one over again, what would you do?
Note: With elementary kids, it is a good idea for parents to lead them through these questions to help them analyze their data and write their conclusions.
- I was right that the smaller animals and people breathe faster than bigger animals and people. I think they have to breathe faster to keep themselves alive. They breathed faster when they were resting and when they were exercising.
- I was right that animals breathe faster than people. I was wrong that they would only breathe five more breaths. They breathed much faster than that. They breathed a lot more when they were running than when they were resting. All of the animals and people took more than two times as many breaths when exercising than when they were resting.
- I had one part of my experiment that didn't work. I couldn't get my cat to exercise. She just wanted to sleep! So I couldn't get her breaths while exercising.
- If I was going to do my experiment again, I think I would try to get some of my neighbor's animals. Maybe I could find several different sized dogs to test.
Comparing Data Table
|Name||Resting Average||Exercise Average||Difference (how many more breaths during exercise?)|
Making Your Science Fair Board
The video below is really good at explaining how to design your board in a simple way. I like the fact that a kid explains his own ideas and makes it easy but also shows how to make the board neat and interesting. I'd suggest using more pictures than graphics, but the matting around the words really does make the board look better. Parents, you might want to watch this with your child before starting on putting your board together. Better yet, watch it before you go to purchase what you need for your project.
Suggestions to Parents
Although I certainly know the experience of having your child tell you that their project is due tomorrow, I would strongly suggest that if possible, you do the experiment one day and put the board together on a different day. If you actually have more time, here is a good schedule:
Day 1: Get Ready. Think about your project question. Write down your question, hypothesis, the materials you need and procedures. Make the charts you need.
Day 2: Do Experiment. Gather your materials and volunteers. Perform your experiment and record your results. Look at your results and write down your conclusions. Take pictures.
Day 3. Print out Project. Type everything up on a computer (if you haven't done that already). Choose a font and colors. Print everything out and check the size. Print out your pictures or graphics.
Day 4. Make Board. Buy all the supplies for your board (board, adhesive, paper and letters if you are using them for titles). Trim all of your printouts and put mats around them (optional). Before gluing, be sure that you arrange everything on the board and see how it fits. When the board looks good, glue things down one by one. Don't forget to add your name, class and any other information required.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Kathy Carr on April 29, 2014:
Interesting project. Good job. I like the science of things and this was a good concept.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 28, 2014: