Science Alliance


Mentor/Buddy Binder

My name is ___________________



The contents of this binder were created and written by Shreya Patel,President of the Dougherty Valley  High School Science Alliance Club of 2017-2018, and the officers of the 2017-2018 year, with substantial modifications done on the previous version created by Adam Shaw, the Monte Vista High School Science Alliance Club Officers of 2008-2009, written and edited by their advisor and Science Alliance co-founder Patti Carothers, SRVUSD retired.

"Copyright [2016-2017] by Robin Groch [Author Carothers/Owner 2008-9 Science Alliance Club]" All rights for alteration or publishing are reserved by the Author/Owner without prior granted written permission  Printing rights are waived by the Author/Owner. 

District Club Contact Information

Monte Vista High School

3131 Stone Valley Rd. Danville, CA 94526  

Advisor Mrs. Linda Bandrowski

Club Email


San Ramon Valley High School

501 Danville Blvd Danville, CA 94526

Advisor Ms. Tretten

Club Email



Dougherty Valley High School

10550 Albion Road San Ramon, CA 94582

Advisor Ms. Dennis

Club Email


California High School

9870 Broadmoor Drive San Ramon, CA 94583

Advisor Mrs. Gipson 

Club Email 


Table of Contents

Description                                                                                Page

Table of Contents                                                                        3                Exploring this Binder                                                                        4

Welcome to Science Alliance                                                                4

Contact Information for Buddy                                                                5
Contact Information for Mentor                                                        5

Email Protocol                                                                                6

Expectations of Conduct                                                                7

Timeline                                                                                8

Safety Guidelines                                                                        9

Safety Regulations                                                                        10

Experimentation Process                                                                11

Meeting One                                                                                12

        Safety Contract                                                                15

        Safety Quiz                                                                        18

        Statement of Responsibility                                                        20

        Mentor Contract                                                                21

        Project Ideas                                                                        22

Experimental Notebook                                                        23

Meeting Two                                                                                24

Meeting Three                                                                                26

Meeting Four                                                                                28

Meeting Five                                                                                30

        Possible Judging Questions                                                        32

Exploring this Binder


        We hope that you find this binder to be extremely helpful in your journey to the Science Fair in April, and to help you even more we have redesigned the binder to give even more great advice than ever before. In keeping with our long held commitment to the protection of the environment, the binder has been slimmed down from its previous width, but worry not! All that content that was cut from the binder is available online, and to help you find it more easily shortened links have been included throughout the binder.

These links (in the form of will direct you to online resources, that should assist you in your project. It is very important that you CAPITALIZE correctly when inputting links to an electronic device.

Welcome to Science Alliance!

Did you know that light would only take 0.13 seconds to travel around the Earth? Do you have any questions or curiosities about life, the earth or any other topic in science that you’d like to see answered?

        Welcome to Science Alliance! In the course of the next few months, you’ll have a chance to experiment and learn about things that you may have never known before. As a buddy, you’ll have the opportunity to work with a high school mentor, who will guide you through the process of scientific experimentation via email and (once a month) face to face meetings and help you create a presentation for the SRVUSD District Wide 5th Grade Science Fair. Be prepared for a fun time as you become a real scientist! Our monthly mentor and buddy meetings are complete with time to work with your mentor, activities, and snacks. Look forward to the Science Fair in April where you’ll compete with your district peers from all of the elementary schools to see how much you’ve learned over the coming months!

        Challenge yourself - take it upon yourself to answer your curiosities and to do it with style! Get ready, get set, GO!

Contact Information for Buddy

Buddy’s Name

Buddy’s School


Buddy’s Email

Parent’s Email

Home Phone Number

Parent’s Cell Phone Number

NOTE: Do not use school emails ( for communication, as they reject email from non-SRVUSD emails.

Contact Information for Mentor

Mentor’s Name

Mentor’s Grade

Mentor’s School

Mentor’s Email

Mentor’s Phone Number




Email Protocol

This section is VERY IMPORTANT, because if you do not follow the correct emailing procedure messages can be lost and it becomes very hard to assist you in your project. When writing an email please address the subject line like this:

[Mentor Last Name]; [Buddy Last Name]; [Subject of email]

An example would look like this, where the mentor’s name is John Smith and the Buddy’s Name is Eric Williams and they have completed their hypothesis:

Smith; Williams; Hypothesis

Also, it is  VERY IMPORTANT that you cc:  buddy’s parent’s email and High School Science Alliance Officer email. For instance, Eric Williams’ mother’s email is, and Eric’s Science Alliance school was San Ramon. His mentor’s email is, so the complete address of Eric’s email should be:


Subject Line:         Smith; Williams; Subject

cc:      ;


Finally, it is VERY IMPORTANT that both the Mentor and the Buddy always hit Reply All. However, please remember to either Restart your email chain when you reach a new [Part of Project], or simply change the subject line.

Keep the Conversation Going!

        Make sure to email each other at least two times a month!

Expectations of Conduct

Rules for Mentors and Buddies:

1. Always come to meetings with writing utensils and your binder.

2. Remember due dates and DON’T(!!!) procrastinate.

3. Email often.

4. Check your email frequently.

5. If you do miss a mentor-buddy meeting email, make it up as soon as possible.

6. If you have a question, talk to an officer.

Rules for Mentors:

        1. BE RESPONSIBLE.

2. Do not simply give your buddy answers; help them work through questions.

        3. Don’t give your buddy busywork.

        4. Don’t give up, be a role model.

Rules for Buddies:

        1. Always behave safely when experimenting.

        2. Maintain a record of your project starting… NOW!

        3. Email your mentor if you ever have questions.

        4. Above all, have fun!


        There may seem to be a long time until the Science Fair, but that time goes by quickly! Make sure you always stay up to date with assignments, so that when April rolls around you can be stress free!



What you should accomplish



  1. Introductions, (2) Safety Contract,

(3) Project Idea, (4) Testable Question,

(5) Purpose, (6) Basic Project Research, (7) Hypothesis



(1) Variables (IV, DV, SV, Control) (2) Preliminary Procedure, (3) Materials list

(4) Begin writing the Background Report, (5) Begin Experimentation & data collection if project is safety approved, (6) Photo documentation of experimentation



(1) Experimentation & Data Collection, (2) Photo documentation, (3) Finish Background Report



(1) Data Analysis & Graphs, (2) Discussion of Results, (3) Conclusion, (4) Abstract (optional), (5) Produce the Binder


(Last Meeting!)


(1) Finalize the Project Board, (2) Practice for Judging




Safety Guidelines


1. Buddies will complete and turn in a safety contract and pass a safety quiz before they can do their experiment. The mentor will provide both of these at a mentor-buddy meeting and help you with both.          

2. All experimental procedures need to be reviewed by the mentor and club advisor for safety features prior to examination.  


3. Buddies must be supervised by the parent at all times during the experiment. Mentor supervision is available as per individual mentor availability.


4. Any face to face meetings between the mentor and the buddy outside of the official  monthly Mentor-Buddy meetings requires the presence of an adult.


5. Buddies must not use any hazardous chemicals or microbes that are not on the approved list included in this binder unless permission is granted by the advisor.

6. Buddies must wear proper protective gloves, apron, and goggles if using any chemicals, human or animal tissues or microbes, or hazardous equipment.  Gloves can be purchased at any drug store.  Apron can be a heavy gauge plastic bag with head and arm holes cut out.  Goggles can be purchased at any hardware store.


7. If the project requires any special equipment, have the mentor check with the club advisor to borrow/check-out the necessary supplies from the high school lab.  Also check with the elementary school science teacher.  Any materials or equipment that are not available from the school will need to be purchased by parents.

8. Only approved microbes, potentially hazardous chemicals, devices or activities, vertebrate animals, humans or human & vertebrate animal tissues are allowed.  Special release forms must be filled out (specific to the risks involved for the project) and be signed by parents and turned in to the appropriate high school advisor.  All other forms should be completed together by the buddy, mentor and parent. The mentor will turn them into the appropriate club advisor.  Once the form is approved the mentor will be notified to pick the approved forms up.

9. Please refer to the following page to determine if your intended experiment is allowed under International Science Fair regulations.

Safety Regulations

The Special Permission Forms and Rules are forms that must be filled out if you wish to complete an experiment that may be dangerous or invasive. There are four available forms, please only turn in the forms that are relevant to your project. These forms are VERY IMPORTANT. Safety is a number one priority in Science Alliance, so please turn in all necessary forms, and have all necessary supervision before completing your experiment.

Please see officers or for mandatory Special Permission Forms

Type of Project


Allowed with Restrictions*

Not Allowed

Involving Human specimens,other than the researcher as specimen.

Passive Observation (this means that the person can be observed in the naturally occurring situation.) i.e. counting the number of times a person pushes a crosswalk button while waiting for the green light  

 Any project that asks a person to "sniff" or "feel" something,  "playing video or sport games looking for typical reactions to typical situations associated with the games" Risk Assessment must be conducted and included in procedures

Ingesting (eating) anything, exercise for blood pressure or heart rate, surveys  or tests with results that may have potential to embarrass.

Involving Hazardous Chemicals, Activities and Devices

 Water propelled rockets

Common Household chemicals (i.e. bleach, hydrogen peroxide, cleaners, fertilizers, etc,  Risk Assessment must be conducted and included in procedures

Firearms, explosives, Class III & IV lasers, DEA controlled substances, prescription drugs, radiation, propellant rockets, weed, ant, rodent etc.. poisons.

Involving Vertebrate Animals as specimens of study

Investigations involving passive observation of zoo animals, wild animals or pets

Behavioral studies of family owned pets providing items in column 3 are avoided in the experiment.  Risk Assessment must be conducted and included in procedures

Drastic changes in home environment; negative reinforcement (i.e. food changes, restrictions to diet etc.)

Involving Human or Animal Tissue collection as the specimen

hair, sterilized teeth, meat or meat by-products purchased from a store, fossils, prepared fixed tissue slides, and the researcher's own nail clippings

Researchers own saliva or tears. Risk Assessment must be conducted and included in procedures

Anything else human or animal derived. No bodily fluid collection or testing (Blood, urine, saliva, skin, sweat from an individual or animal)

Involving Microbe Cultures.

Yogurt cultures, Baker's and Brewer's yeast purchased from a store, Bread mold.

Bread mold, E. coli  k-12 strain only. Risk Assessment must be conducted and included in procedures

Unknowns from the environment (Most BSL -1 or BSL-2 or higher microbes)

Experimentation Process

        Experimentation can often be a long process, but to make it easier you should try and split it up into many parts. This allows you to better set deadlines and also focus more. Following is a link to a document that goes through the details of every individual part of the experimentation process, whether it be creating a background report or writing a conclusion.


1. Creating a Testable Question:

This is your question that you will be experimenting on during your project. It does not have to be groundbreaking, but try to make it creative.

2. Writing a Purpose:

The Purpose is the reason you completed your experiment (your inspiration).

3. Creating a Hypothesis and Defining Variables:

The Hypothesis is your expectation of how to experiment will turn out.

4. Writing a Background Research Report:

The Background Report is a place for you to compile all the information you can find on your question prior to experimentation.

5. Writing a Procedure:

The Procedure is the list of steps you will take in your experimentation process.

6. Recording Materials:

The Materials is the list of the actual materials you will be using during your experiment.

7. Testing the Hypothesis:

Using your procedure and materials, you will test your hypothesis by gathering data and observations while performing your experiment.

8. Data Analysis (Graphs, Data Tables, etc.):

The Data Tables and Graphs are how you can visually represent your data.

9. Discussion of Results:

Here you discuss why your results turned out the way they did, or do analysis on the data.

10. Conclusion:

The Conclusion is where you compile all of the steps so far, and discuss everything from your hypothesis to your results.

11. Photographs and Acknowledgement:

This is the place to include all of your experimentation photos and thank the people that helped during the process.

12. Abstract (Optional):

        This is a very shortened summary of your entire experimentation process.

13. The Report Binder and Project Board:

The Binder is a  written record of your work, and the Board is the visual representation of it.

Meeting One

December 5, 2017


  • Get binder/t-shirt for buddy and mentor
  • Complete, sign, and turn in the Safety Contract/Safety Quiz/Statement of Responsibility/Mentor Contract
  • Create Testable Question
  • Get your question approved
  • Identify variables and create a hypothesis
  • Form a preliminary procedure and materials list

Before Next Meeting:

  • Email each other at least twice
  • Get composition book research journal
  • Research about your project!
  • Finalize Question and Variables

____ 1. Sign in at the mentor table, pick up your binder, your t-shirt, your buddy’s binder, your buddy’s t-shirt. (This is for mentors)

____ 2. Sit at a table with a seat next to you reserved for your buddy, while you wait for your buddy to arrive. Look through this binder to become familiar with the contents while waiting. Use the photo they have provided to find the buddy. Greet your buddy enthusiastically and make small talk (i.e. what kind of pets do they have, sports, school, etc.). Find out their interests and why they have decided to be a part of Science Alliance.

____ 3. Find a comfortable spot to work with your buddy for the day.  If the buddy needs to use the restroom, accompany them to the door and wait outside. NEVER leave your buddy completely alone.  If you ever need to leave a few minutes early you must hand your buddy off to an officer (any student wearing a colored SA shirt).  You cannot just leave your buddy with another mentor.

____ 4. Introduce yourself to your buddy’s parent and be professional! Exchange contact information with BOTH the buddy and the parent. Emails AND phone numbers. Write this in your binder (Page 5). Give them your contact info as well. Find out if there is a preferred time for you to call your buddy when necessary.

____ 5. Safety Contract. Go through the Safety Contract (Page 14-16) with your buddy, paraphrasing if they lose interest. Have the buddy sign off on the contract and put it aside for later.

____ 6. Safety Quiz.  Take the safety quiz (Page 17-18)  with your buddy (don't just tell them to take the quiz, work on each question with them and discuss the answers. GUIDE them).

____ 7. Be sure the Buddy and Parent complete the Statement of Responsibility (Page 19).  

____ 9. Mentor Contract (Page 20). Thoroughly read through the mentor contract, and then sign.

____ 10. Examine email protocols (Page 6). Remind buddy and parent that all emails between you must be sent to you as well to

____ 11. Look through the binder with your buddy at the project category and question ideas and find out what interests them (Page 21). It is recommended to use the links for extra help.

____ 12. Find out if your buddy’s school runs a science fair that has a different due date/deadline. If so, write down this date here:


____ 13. Remind your buddy to buy a composition book to take notes in throughout this process! If they do not have a notebook today, have them take notes somewhere in their Binder or on a separate sheet of paper (paper is provided at the Mentor check in table).

____ 14. If you haven’t already, decide on your topic and write it into a testable question. to the QUESTIONS table to  talk to an officer if you need help. Come to the APPROVAL table to have your question approved.

_____15. Go to to submit your idea digitally and check for approval. Only submit one idea at a time and wait for approval. If your idea is not approved you may resubmit this form. Testable question:

_____16. Go to to check if your idea has been approved.

____ 15. Talk about what the buddy thinks will be the Independent Variable (IV) (experimental variable) of the experiment  Write the IV in the buddy research journal.

____ 16. Talk about what the buddy thinks will be the Dependent Variable (DV) (the expected outcome (the data) Write the DV in the buddy research journal.

____ 17. Talk about the standardized/controlled variables (SV or CV) (the things that need to be kept constant  in the experimental and control group). Have the buddy write them down.

____ 18. Remind your buddy that the next Mentor-Buddy Meeting is on January 9. Let them know that between now and then, you will be emailing them each week back and forth. Remind the buddy that during Winter Break communications may be delayed.

____ 19. When the activity is announced, participate along with your buddy (let your kid self shine through).

____ 20. Sign out. Remind your buddy’s parent that they MUST sign out their child at the sign out tables.

Safety Contract

(Adapted from Flinn Scientific, Inc)

(Keep all contract pages in your binder for reference during experimentation)


         Science involves hands-on laboratory experimentation.  However, science activities may have potential hazards.  Often experimentation requires use of some equipment, animals, chemicals or devices that may be dangerous if not handled properly.  Safety in the science lab or wherever science experimentation is performed is an important part of the scientific process.  To ensure a safe experiment in or out of the classroom a list of rules has been developed and is called the Science Safety Contract.  These rules must be followed at all times and kept in mind as experimentation proceeds.  Additional safety instructions may be needed for each experiment or activity as the procedures vary.

No Science Alliance Students will be allowed to participate until this contract has been signed by both the student (buddy) and parent or guardian.

Safety Rules:

1. Conduct yourself in a responsible manner at all times in the science room or at the experimental site (home, field etc.). Horseplay, practical jokes, and pranks will not be tolerated.

2. Follow all written and verbal instructions carefully.  Ask your mentor, parent or a teacher questions if you do not understand the instructions for using equipment or procedures.

3. Do not touch any equipment, supplies, animals, or other materials in the science room, or at the experimental site without permission and proper instruction by your mentor, parent or a teacher.

4. Perform only authorized and approved experiments.  The Science Alliance Advisor will give authorization to perform an experiment after carefully reviewing the safety of the procedure and materials.

5. Never eat, drink, chew gum, or taste anything in the science room or at the experimental site.

6. Be prepared for your experimental work.  Read all procedures thoroughly.  Be sure all experimental materials are set up and ready for use by double checking the materials list.

7. Keep hands away from face, eyes and mouth while suing science materials or when working with either chemicals, approved microbes or animals or animal tissues.  Wash your hands with soap and water before leaving the science room or experimental site.

8. Wear safety glasses or goggles when instructed.  Never remove safety glasses or goggles during an experiment.  There will be no exceptions to this rule!

9. Keep your work area or the science room neat and clean.  Bring only your laboratory instructions, experimental notebook and writing instruments to the work area.

10. Clean all work areas and equipment at the end of the experiment.  Return all equipment clean and in working order to the proper area.

 11. Follow your mentor’s, parents or teachers instructions to dispose of any waste materials generated in the experiment. Never mix chemicals in sink drains.  Sinks are used only for water and those solutions designated by the MSDS (materials safety data sheet) instructions. Read the labels on bottles or follow the MSDS directions for disposal.

12. Report any accident (fire, spill, breakage, etc.), injury (cut, burn, etc.), or hazardous condition (broken equipment, etc.) to your parent, mentor or teacher immediately.

13. Consider all chemicals, microbes, tissues, devices, activities, animals used in the science experiment to be potentially dangerous.  Always work in a well ventilated area.   Do not touch or smell anything unless specifically instructed how and when to do so in the experimental procedure. Do not work with mercury thermometers, use only alcohol thermometers.

14. Handle all animals with care and respect.  Do not tease animals.  Wear gloves when handling animals.  Report any animal bite or scratch to your mentor, parent or teacher immediately.

15. If an experiment requires the use of a microscope, always carry it with both hands.  Hold the arm with one hand and place the other hand under the base.  Likewise if the experiment requires the use of a balance always carry it with both hands and place it on the working surface gently.

16. Use knives, scalpels, scissors and other sharp instruments only under direct supervision of the mentor, parent or teacher. Never cut material towards you – always cut away from your body.  

17. If experimenting in the classroom, never enter the prep/storage area and never open storage cabinets without permission.

18. Never remove chemicals, equipment, supplies, or animals from the work area unless given permission to do so from the mentor, parent or teacher.

19. Handle all glassware with extreme care.  Never pick up hot or broken glassware with your bare hands. Only the mentor or adult supervisor may handle hot or broken glassware.

20. Use extreme caution when using matches, a burner, or hot plate and under mentor or adult supervision. Do not put anything into a flame unless specifically instructed to do so. Do not leave a lit burner unattended.

21. Dress properly when experimenting.  Long hair must be tied back, no dangling jewelry, and no loose or baggy clothing. Shoes must completely cover the foot, no sandals are allowed when using sharp instruments in the lab.  Wear aprons when instructed.

22. Learn where the safety equipment is located at the experimental site and how to use it.  (first aid kit, eyewash, fire extinguisher or fire blanket).

23. If a chemical splashes in your eye(s) or on your skin, immediately flush with running water for at least 20 minutes and notify an adult supervisor.

24.  If you have a medical condition (e.g. allergies, etc.), check with your physician and alert the science alliance advisor when your procedure is being reviewed prior to experimentation.


Do you wear contact lenses?     Yes ____ No ____

Are you colorblind?                         Yes ____ No ____

Do you have allergies?                     Yes ____ No ____

If so, list specific allergies ___________________________________________________________

Student Agreement:

I, (Buddy Name) ___________________________________________ have read and agree to follow all of the safety rules set forth in this contract.  I realize that I must obey these rules to ensure my own safety, and that of my fellow lab partners, mentor or adult supervisor.  I will cooperate to the fullest extent with my lab partners, mentor or adult supervisor to maintain a safe experiment and experiment site.  I will also closely follow the oral and written instructions provided by the lab procedure and mentor or adult supervisor. I am aware that any violation of this safety contract that results in unsafe conduct in the experiment or misbehavior on my part may result in being removed from the Science Alliance program and experimentation.

Buddy Signature:

_________________________________________________        Date ______

For Parent(s):

We feel that you should be informed regarding the Science Alliance Club’s effort to create and maintain a safe laboratory experience.  With the cooperation of the mentors, buddies, parents, and SA staff careful review of safety guidelines, rules and experimental procedures can eliminate, prevent and correct possible hazards. Please read the general safety guidelines and rules carefully.

The mentor will share with you detailed information and guidelines on working with anything outside of general science equipment such as hazardous chemicals, activities and devices, microbes, human subjects, human or animal tissues and vertebrate animals in the pages of the buddy binder.

Your signature on this contract indicates that you have read this Safety Contract as well as the buddy binder contents related to safety (Page 9) and you are willing to act as the adult supervisor for the experiment your child will perform and be present during experimentation.

Parent/Guardian Signature(s):

_________________________________________________        Date ______

Safety Quiz

Buddy Name: __________________________ Mentor Name: ______________________________

____ 1. If a fire erupts, immediately:                                

A. notify the teacher        

B. do nothing        

C. throw water on the fire        

D. open the windows

____ 2. Approved eye protection devices (such as goggles) are worn in the laboratory:        

A. to avoid eye strain

        B. to improve your vision

        C. only if you do not have corrective glasses

D. any time chemicals, heat, or glassware are used

____ 3. If you do not understand a direction or part of a laboratory procedure, you should:

A. figure it out as you do the lab

B. try several methods until something works

C. ask the teacher before proceeding

D. skip it and go on to the next part

____ 4. After completing an experiment, all chemical wastes should be:

A. left at your lab station for the next class

B. disposed of according to your teacher’s directions

C. dumped in the sink

D. taken home

____ 5. You have been injured in the laboratory (cut, burned, etc.). First you should:

        A. visit the school nurse after class

        B. see a doctor after school

        C. tell the teacher at once

        D. do nothing

____ 6. Long hair in the laboratory must be:

        A. cut short

        B. held away from the experiment with one hand

            C. always neatly groomed

        D. tied back or kept entirely out of the way  with a hair band, etc.        

____ 7. Which of the following should NOT be worn during a laboratory activity?

        A. loose clothing

        B. dangling jewelry

        C. sandals

        D. all of the above

____ 8. Horseplay, practical jokes, or pranks in the classroom are:

        A. always against the rules

        B. okay

        C. not dangerous

        D. okay if you are working alone

____ 9. When handling animals, students should:

        A. open cages only with permission

        B. not tease or handle animals roughly

        C. report bites or scratches to the teacher immediately

        D. all of the above

____ 10. If a piece of equipment is not working properly, stop, turn it off, and tell:

        A. the principal

        B. your parent

        C. your best friend in the class

        D. the teacher

____ 11. When you finish working with chemicals, or other lab substances, always:

        A. treat your hands with skin lotion

        B. wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water

        C. wipe your hands on a towel

        D. wipe your hands on your clothes

____ 12. The following activity is permitted in the laboratory:

        A. chewing gum

        B. eating

        C. drinking

        D. none of the above

____ 13. When using a razor blade or scalpel, always cut material:

        A. away from you

        B. toward you

        C. in your hand

____ 14. Before you leave the science room, you should:

        A. clean your work area and equipment

        B. return all equipment to the proper storage area

        C. wash your hands with soap and water

        D. all of the above

Statement of Responsibility

I, ______________________________________(PRINT buddy’s name), certify that I understand my responsibilities as a buddy in Science Alliance to correspond with my mentor via email or phone a minimum of once a week and to copy my parent/guardian and science alliance club each time I do so.  Additionally I am aware that this opportunity is a privilege and that failure to fulfill my responsibilities of attending the monthly mentor-buddy meetings and completing my project and displaying it at the Science Alliance district wide science fair in April, or inappropriate conduct on my part, may result in removal from the organization.

And I, _________________________________________(PRINT parent/guardian’s name), understand the time commitments required to make my child’s project a success.  I will insure that my child fulfills his/her responsibilities, WITHOUT DOING THE PROJECT FOR HIM/HER.   I understand the role of the mentor and my communication responsibilities and will monitor the email contact between the mentor and my child.

Additionally I, _________________________________________(PRINT parent/guardian’s name), will take on the role of adult supervisor for any mentor-buddy contact outside of the once a month mentor-buddy meetings held at the high school.  I understand that the mentor is an advisor and is not responsible for meeting the buddy outside of the once a month meetings unless the schedule of the mentor allows more voluntary one on one meeting time to work on the project or to make up a missed mentor-buddy meeting.

Buddy Signature:  ____________________________ Date___________

Parent Signature:  ____________________________ Date___________

Mentor Contract

I, _________________________________ (PRINT Mentor Name), certify that I understand my responsibilities as a mentor in Science Alliance. I understand that as a member of Science Alliance and by my mentorship to a fifth grade student, I represent not only my school but additionally the school district.

 I am aware that as a mentor to a younger student I have the potential to make strong emotional bonds and a strong educational impact upon this young child. I agree to contact the fifth grade buddy through email a minimum of two times per week and to insure that the parent/guardian and science alliance communications are copied on each email.

I understand that each time I meet with my buddy outside of the once a month mentor-­‐buddy meetings held at the high school, I will do so under the supervision of an adult at all times. I realize mentor buddy meetings held once a month are mandatory and that if I will miss a mentor buddy meeting. I will contact the communications email and my buddy 24 hours ahead. If an emergency arises with less than 24 hours prior to a meeting I will contact the buddy parent on their cell phone and also call the club president. I realize all missed mentor buddy meetings must be made up with an at home visit within one week and have the parent/guardian email the communications email when this has been done.        

I realize that mentor trainings meetings are mandatory. If I do have to miss a mentor training, I will email the club President 24 hours ahead of the meeting. I realize this opportunity to mentor a fifth grade student is a privilege and that failure to fulfill my responsibilities, or inappropriate conduct on my part, may result in removal from the club.

Mentor Signature: _____________________________________ Date: ___________

Project Ideas

Choosing your project can be difficult because there are so many GREAT ideas. You’ll enjoy your experiment a lot more if it’s about something YOU are curious about or like to do.  List three activities that you enjoy.   Do you like sports? If you like sports, which sport? Do you like growing plants?  Do you like math, music or animals? Do you like painting while hanging upside down?  What science experiments did you most like doing during the past school year or ever?





If you want more inspiration on what type of science topics might interest you, please visit (Science Buddies), which has a Science Fair topic wizard.

Once you have a basic idea of what types of project you might like, we encourage you to head over to, which has a list of great possible questions. These are intended to only be samples, and so try to find someway to tweak the question to make it your own.

For instance, say you pick the sample question: “Does cold or heat affect how high a ball bounces?” It is perfectly fine if you just want to use this as your question, but if you want to think outside the box, you could test other factors for how high a ball bounces, such as surface it is bouncing on, or something similar. Once again, it is fine to use the sample questions, and sometimes the sample questions are EXACTLY what you want to do, but always feel free to be creative!

For Mentors, remember that this is your buddy’s science project. Even if you do not feel comfortable in the area of research they chose, remember you can always ask an officer who will be glad to help you. Make sure to stay within the confines of your buddy’s interests.

Experimental Notebook

        One of the most important parts of the experimentation process is recording, and so it is recommended that you obtain a small notebook in which to record data, and any information pertaining to the experiment. This will help more than you know, because in April you will be able to look back through the notebook and be sure of any data or communications you had during a specific part of your experiment. Make sure that you bring this notebook with you to all mentor-buddy meetings.

        You can use the notebook for whatever purposes you see fit that pertain to your experiment, but it is recommended that you record:

        1. Any data, graphs, or any results from experimentation

        2. Any questions you had for your mentor or for the Science Alliance Officers.

        3. Anything important you talked about in an email with a Mentor

        4. The phase of experimentation you are currently in.

        It is also highly recommended that you record the date and a title in your notebook, and also use it as a planner to keep you on schedule. A sample notebook entry is included below for a buddy who has just had a testable question approved by Science Alliance Advisors:

Testable Question Approved

        Today my mentor and I submitted our testable question to the Science Alliance officers. They told us to tweak it a little so it would be more specific, but that we were good to go. Our modified question reads, “How does heat level affect plant growth?” I will email my mentor tomorrow to figure out what I should be doing now for my project, but until then I will begin researching a background on my question.

        As you can see, the buddy identified what he had accomplished that day, what he hoped to do soon, and talked about emailing his mentor. Try to complete your notebook entries similarly to this.

Meeting Two

January 9, 2018


  • Have materials and procedure list approved
  • Plan when to complete your experiment
  • Go over/outline the Background Report

Before Next Meeting:

  • Email each other at least twice
  • Begin writing the Background Report
  • Begin Experimenting and Photo Documentation

____ 1. Greet your buddy enthusiastically and find a comfortable spot to work. If the buddy needs to use the restroom, accompany them to the door and wait outside. NEVER leave your buddy completely alone. If you ever need to leave a few minutes early you must hand your buddy off to an officer (any student wearing a colored SA shirt). You cannot just leave your buddy with another mentor.

____ 2. Check to see if your buddy brought their research journal.  Look over their ideas and make suggestions on what should go into it (Page 24).  If they don't have it, then they need it NOW.

____ 3. If you and your buddy have not yet had the topic and testable question approved at the last Mentor-Buddy Meeting, your first task for today is to decide on the topic and write it into a testable question. Come to the QUESTIONS table to talk to a supervising teacher or an officer if you need help. Come to the APPROVAL table to have your question approved.

____ 18. Form the hypothesis.  IF...THEN  (format).  If (IV) then (DV) because….


____ 19. Talk about the preliminary procedure and preliminary materials list you think you'll use to test the question.  Have the buddy write down.

____ 4. Approve your Materials and Procedure lists if they have not been approved at the last Mentor-Buddy Meeting, or by receiving an email from Science Alliance officers, write the materials and procedure. Come to the officer table to talk to a supervising teacher or an officer if you need help.

____ 5. If your project MATERIALS AND PROCEDURES have been APPROVED, make plans for experimentation including:

  • Purchasing or borrowing the supplies needed – Find out where you can get the

items needed, when they can be available etc.

  • Where & when the experiment will be conducted.
  • Set up a meeting date & time at Buddy home to setup the experiment.
  • Make prior arrangements with SA advisor if the mentor/buddy needs to borrow

equipment or use the high school lab facilities and equipment.

____ 6.  Work on outlining the three required paragraphs of the Background/Introduction report. (Page 11 and

  • What will you put into the first paragraph?
  • What do you need to know to write the second paragraph?
  • What will you need to know to write the third paragraph?
  • Have the buddy write this outline down.

____ 7. Over the next week YOU as the mentor should locate a minimum of 5 websites that will help the buddy write the background/introduction report.

____ 8. Remember email protocol (Page 6).

____ 9. Remind the buddy that the next Mentor Buddy meeting is Tuesday, February 6nd.

____ 10. When the activity is announced, participate along with your buddy (let your kid self shine through).


____ 11. Sign out. Remind the buddy’s parent to sign the buddy out.

Meeting Three

February 6, 2018


  • Sign up for Science Fair
  • Work on Background Report
  • Create a Works Cited/Bibliography
  • Begin Data Analysis
  • Start Conclusion

Before Next Meeting:

  • Email each other at least twice
  • Finish writing the Background Report
  • Finish Experimentation

____ 1. Find a comfortable spot to work with your buddy for the day.  If the buddy needs to use the restroom, accompany them to the door and wait outside. NEVER leave your buddy completely alone.  If you ever need to leave a few minutes early you must hand your buddy off to an officer (any student wearing a colored SA shirt).  You cannot just leave your buddy with another mentor.


____ 2. Before you start, please sign up for the science fair by going to

____ 3. If experimentation has not started make plans to get it done before the end of February.

        Remember to record data and take lots of pictures!

____ 4. Work on the Background Information/Introduction:

  1. If the first paragraph is completed and Mentor has edited it and shared that with the buddy then move on to step B. Otherwise help the buddy to write the first paragraph today. The first paragraph introduces the project & its importance.  It includes the following:
  1. Start with a "hook" to draw the reader into wanting to read & learn more.
  2. Give the purpose of the experiment.
  3. Give the hypothesis of the experiment.
  4. Summarize the procedure and materials in a conversational manner (Do not make lists).
  5. End with why the project is important and what it will add to our scientific knowledge.
  1. If the second paragraph has not been written, work on it today. The 2nd paragraph references to what at least two other experiments similar to yours have found to be factual.  This is when the buddy uses the web sites the mentor has sent to them.  Paraphrase and summarize the information.  Be sure to give credit to the other experiments by naming them such as "Garber's data indicates that....."

QUICK AND EASY 2nd paragraph:

In the science field of __________________________(name of your topic i.e. botany), the ___________________ (person/group that did the experiment) found out what happened when ________________________ (what the person/group tested (the hypothesis or testable question).  This was important because it showed that ______________________________________________________ (key point (s) that you learned from reading about their experiment (possibly their conclusion to the experiment).  Another experiment that proved to be important was ____________________________________ (title of the experiment or summary of the experiment) where ___________________________________ (person/group that did the experiment) wanted to see what happened when ________________(what the person/group tested (hypothesis or testable question).  The major point learned here was that ________________________(key point that you learned from the experiment (include the experiment's conclusion).

  1. When finished with the second paragraph move onto the 3rd paragraph which includes background information you needed to know to understand your own project.  (for example, did you have to learn about how plants or fungi grow, did you have to learn about solar energy, crystal growth, etc.)

____ 6. Keep track of ALL bibliographic sources and create a Works Cited and Bibliography.


____ 7. Work on data analysis today.  (if the buddy has any data)

Help the buddy to understand the data for the control group versus the experimental group(s) by:

  1. taking the average (mean) of each data set for each trial.
  2. computing the percent change: Subtract the original value (control group) from the new value (experimental group) and then divide by the original value.  Multiply the result by 100 and put a % sign on it.
  3. computing the median or mode.


____ 8. Work on determining which type(s) of graph will be best suited for your data.

____ 9. If the experiment is completed and the data analysis and graphs have been completed then work on the conclusion.  

____ 10. Remind your buddy that the next Mentor-Buddy Meeting is Tuesday, March 6st.

____ 11. When the activity is announced, participate along with your buddy (let your kid self shine through).

____ 12. Sign out. Remind the buddy’s parent to sign the buddy out.

Meeting Four

March 6, 2018


  • Analyze data and make graphs
  • Write a results paragraph
  • Start the conclusion

Before Next Meeting:

  • Email each other at least twice
  • Finish graphs, the results paragraph, and conclusion
  • Get project board and binder
  • Print materials to use in your project

____ 1. We recommend bringing an electronic device for this meeting.

____ 2. Finish any experimentation if not already done.

____ 4. Work on the graph(s):  

A. Decide what type of graph would be best.  

i. Do you want to graph the raw data and the analyzed data? (analyzed data must be graphed. The raw data is optional, but it fills up a spot on the project board).

ii. Create the graphs using Excel

____ 5. Write a results paragraph that explains what the numbers mean. It is DIFFERENT from the conclusion (Page 11 and

____ 6. Write the Conclusion that either supports the hypothesis or supports the null hypothesis (Page 11 and

A. Look at the analyzed data and graph(s) and ask the following

i. Was the hypothesis supported and how?

ii. Was the procedure effective? Could it have been improved? How?

iii. What went well? What didn’t go well?

iv. Why did things not turn out as expected?

____ 7. Remind your buddy that the next Mentor-Buddy Meeting is Tuesday, April 10th, which is the last meeting before the fair April 14th.

____ 8. When the activity is announced, participate along with your buddy (let your kid-self shine through).

____ 9. Sign out. Remind the buddy’s parent to sign the buddy out.

Meeting Five

April 10, 2018


  • Work on project board and binder
  • Practice answering judge questions

Before Science Fair:

  • Finish project board and binder
  • Practice answering judge questions for the fair
  • Have Fun! :)

____ 1. Check in at the front tables.

____ 2. Work on the Tri-fold project board.  The buddy has been requested to bring the board, the documents and titles that belong on it and possibly construction paper, glue sticks, scissors so you can practice where items should go on the board. The board should have:

  1. Title (centered)
  2. Testable Question
  3. (Optional Section: Abstract)
  4. Hypothesis/Null Hypothesis
  5. Variables
  1. Control
  2. Independent Variable
  3. Dependent Variable
  4. Controlled Variables
  1. Procedure
  2. Materials
  3. Data Analysis (Data Tables, Graphs, Results)
  4. Conclusion
  5. Photographs with typed captions (what the photo shows and who took the picture)
  6. Acknowledgements

____ 3. Work on the project binder. Order of the pages:

  1. Table of contents
  2. Testable Question (on a page by itself)
  3. Abstract (optional)
  4. Background Report
  5. Hypothesis/Null Hypothesis
  6. Variables
  1. Control
  2. Independent Variable
  3. Dependent Variable
  4. Controlled Variables
  1. Procedure & Materials
  2. Data Tables
  3. Data Analysis
  4. Graphs
  5. Results & Discussion
  6. Conclusion
  7. Photographs
  8. Acknowledgements

____ 4. Practice Judging (Page 33). Ask your buddy these questions and help him/her with the response.

____ 5. Catch-Up items can be done with your own computer or at home: Remember do not print, just email any documents you create to both yourself and your buddy.

____ 6. Remind your buddy about the Science Fair at MVHS on Saturday, April 14th.

____ 7. When the activity is announced, participate along with your buddy (let your kid self shine through).

____ 8. Sign out. Remind the buddy’s parent to sign the buddy out.

Possible Judging Questions

        At the Science Fair many judges will approach your project hoping to learn more about it. The most important thing to remember is that these judges are trying to help you! Judges are trained to help buddies along if they are having a hard time speaking, so don’t feel intimidated, and don’t think the judges are out to get you; judges are trying to give high scores.


        If you do feel nervous about what  judge might ask, below are copied the sample questions that are given to judges. If you can answer these questions, even very basically, then you have nothing to worry about at the fair. Even if you can’t answer all of them completely, just remember that this is a learning experience over a competition, and that you can always ask your mentor or the Science Alliance officers for help.

Questions include, but are not limited to:

1. Could you briefly explain what you did in your project?

2.What was the hardest thing you had to overcome in carrying out this project?

3. How did you think of the idea?

4. Have you done anything with this subject before?

5. Why are the results the way they are?

6. Who helped you the most with this project and how?

7. How long did it take you to complete the experiment?

8. What did you need to learn in order to carry out this project?

9. What did you learn after completing this experiment?

10. What were the standardized variables and how did you control them?

11. What was the control for the experiment?

12. Why is this project important?

13. If things didn’t work the way they were supposed to, why?

14. How did you carry out the experiment?

15. Was the data what you expected? If not, why not?

16. Do you plan on continuing this project next year? If so, what do you plan on changing?

17. What does your data tell you about your project?

18. Judges may or may not ask you to explain certain items you’ve placed into your Background Information, so be sure you understand your written and displayed project.

19. How does it apply to the real world?