According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep affects a wide variety of processes in our bodies, from energy levels to how quickly wounds heal to memory function. A lack of sleep affects these processes negatively. Middle school science fair projects on sleep highlight these functions and how sleep may affect them.

Sleep and Memory

The science fair project on sleep asks, “Can sleep deprivation affect memory?” Design a 20- to 30-question test, along with a study guide that clearly goes over all information placed on the test. Design the test around a subject that is not too difficult but that students are unlikely to already know much about, e.g. facts about giraffes or facts about tree frogs.

To test the hypothesis, choose a sample group of at least 20 students, and assemble them on a Friday evening. Explain the test procedure to them, and then give them an hour to study the study guide. After reading the guide, randomly divide the students into two groups: a test group and a control group. The control group should get eight hours of sleep Friday night, while the test group should get five. On Saturday morning, have the entire group assemble and take the test you designed. Record the results of your research for your middle school science fair project.

Sleep and Athletic Performance

The science fair project on sleep asks, “Can sleep deprivation affect athletic performance?” Design an athletic performance test, such as running around a track or catching footballs, baseballs, etc., and choose a sample group of at least 15 students.

For this project, the same students will be both the control group and the test group. On a Friday evening, instruct them to get eight hours of sleep Friday night. Assemble them on Saturday morning, and administer your test. For example, see how many times they can catch a football thrown at them 10 times. Record their scores, and then instruct them to sleep for only five hours Saturday night. Assemble them again on Sunday, perform the same test and then record their scores and compare to the scores of the day before to test your hypothesis.

Sleep and Senses

This science fair project on sleep asks, “Can different smells affect sleep quality?” Choose a sample group of 10 to 20 people, and decide on three or four different-smelling items to use in your research, e.g. mothballs, lavender, mint and cinnamon. Gather enough of each scent object to distribute equally among all of your test subjects.

Instruct each subject to place one of the scents in her bedroom each night before going to sleep. For example, have each subject use lavender on the first night, mothballs on the second, mint on the third night and cinnamon on the fourth. Subjects should follow their own normal sleep and waking patterns, and record any differences in their sleep that they notice on each night they add a scent to their room. Record the results, and test your hypothesis for your middle school science fair project.

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