A school event in which students (usually the entire class, or something to that extent) set up tables in a large, central location such as a cafeteria or auditorium and show off what's supposed to be a wide variety of science-related projects. Someone nearly always builds a volcano, a model of the solar system, or both. No one really knows why it's always those two specifically, but both seem to show up ridiculously often, to the point where it looks like that's all anyone ever does.

In terms of relevance and importance to a show, they can be anywhere from the entire focus of an episode to a minor side plot to simply being mentioned in passing.

Because YouSuck, plots related to science fairs will often (though certainly not always) be based around the BookDumb hero getting the project done at the last minute. Another option is the hero getting one of his/her parents to "help" on the project and then having the project get commandeered by the parent. The TeenGenius is likely to strive to create a wonder that will turn science on its head (but will still lose to the [[CrackDefeat kid with the volcano]]).

Mainly a US and Canadian trope as it's schools in those countries that have this characteristic event, although there's always EaglelandOsmosis to consider.
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!!Examples:

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[[folder:Comic Books]]

* AtomicRobo is called upon to judge one in the 2011 Free Comic Book Day issue. Both the solar system and a volcano are in evidence. [[spoiler:Dr. Dinosaur wants to steal something else entirely.]]

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[[folder:Film]]

* A lot of the action in ''MeetTheRobinsons'' revolves around the results of a science fair, which has the obligatory volcano. And a few more interesting projects, such as fire ants, musical frogs and a brain scanner.
* The ''Series/StrangersWithCandy'' movie is centered on a science fair. SeriousBusiness for everyone involved.
-->''She's a Fig Neutron! Got her sexy science T-shirt on!''
* In ''Film/{{Juno}}'', a vague reference to this trope is the best Mark can do at articulating why he wants to be an adoptive dad.
* There's a science fair near the beginning of ''Film/RealGenius''; [[TeenGenius Mitch]] has a homemade ultraviolet laser amongst everyone else's more standard projects.
* In ''Film/TheManhattanProject'', Paul says he's going to submit a project about raising a generation of hamsters in the dark to see if it improves their hearing. It's just a cover story for the real project—his atomic bomb. It's at the "45th National Science Fair" where Dr. Mathewson and TheGovernment catch up to him.
* In ''OsmosisJones'', Frank once made himself ill by eating shellfish that a kid's science fair project had allegedly, but not really, rendered safe for human consumption.
* The vinegar-baking soda volcano shows up in ''WesternAnimation/ThePiratesInAnAdventureWithScientists'' as part of a professional science competition. It sounds like RuleOfFunny, but [[FridgeBrilliance that would have been quite something]] back in the age of WoodenShipsAndIronMen.
* ''Film/OctoberSky'' is about boys in a West Virginia coal town building rockets to enter into the county (and later national) science fair.

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[[folder:Literature]]

* The second ''CaptainUnderpants'' Book.
* In the BabysittersClub book ''Jessi's Babysitter'', the babysitters get involved in assisting with the elementary school science fair. Represented among the entries are the classic solar system model and volcano. Other clients do such projects as "Barbie on the moon" and the effect of music on plant growth.
* The events of ''{{Literature/Dinoverse}}'' are set off by one of these, when Bertram builds what he doesn't know is a time machine for a demonstration.

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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' mentions one in passing when Cordelia complains about it being mandatory that year, although the science fair itself is never actually shown.
* In one of the ''weirder'' episode of ''DrakeAndJosh'', Josh and his girlfriend compete by building functional death rays. For a high school science fair. It was a ''really'' weird episode, specially since nobody seemed to find this weird or unlikely or frightening, so RuleOfFunny doesn't even apply …
* ''Series/{{CSI}}'' has an episode were a science fair volcano is a clue in a case. Nick, Greg and Catherine all reminisce about making a similar project in their youth, and how it should have won. Grissom however, did win his school science fair for a maze with beetles.
* Tesla High in ''{{Eureka}}'' has quite possibly the coolest (and [[SeriousBusiness most competitive]]) science fair in television. It helps that the kids' parents are all hotshot scientists at an uber-secret government facility; past experience with it has taught Deputy Jo Lupo to attend in full SWAT gear.
* In one episode of ''Series/{{Leverage}},'' Sophie hijacks one of these in order to turn it into a ''musical'' as part of a con.
-->'''Whidmark Fowler:''' It might seem kind of crazy\\
Or even just plain gross\\
To sing in praise of bread mold\\
And wonder how it grows...
* ''TheCosbyShow'' had one of the Huxtable girls have a model of the solar system for her display and was totally upstaged by her friend's sound controlled machines. The Huxtable girl jealously accuses of her friend of cheating since her father is a engineer, but Cliff coaxes her into admitting that her own exhibit was really lame and her friend deserved to win.
* Flashback in ''Series/{{Scrubs}}'' when Turk gets a 3rd prize award for science fair as a kid and delivers this humorous dialogue:
-->'''Turk:''' But I didn't even enter the contest!
--> '''Award Giver:''' Shhh, And smile for the camera.
* One episode of ''TheRedGreenShow'' has Red insisting on "helping" with Harold's entry in the local fair. The show being what it is, (what's left of) Red and Harold stagger back into the Possum Lodge and report it all ended with multiple explosions and the first-prize trophy embedded in [[TheGhost Stinky Peterson's]] body. The girl who actually won had a fire extinguisher exhibit.
* ''Series/TheNewAdventuresOfBeansBaxter'': In "Beans' Under the Weather", Scooter invents weather-making machine for a science fair, and UGLI attempts to use it for their own ends.
* ''TheSecretWorldOfAlexMack'' had a science fair that wasn't sponsored by a school, but by the Paradise Valley Chemical Plant. Alex's older sister Annie entered a very impressive project resembling a laser, however Alex witnessed another competitor attempting to sabotage it by dropping it on the ground. Alex used her telekinetic powers to save it, but got in trouble when the plant's GC-161 alarms went off, potentially incriminating her.
* ''Series/PhilOfTheFuture'' used a variant where the kids had to create their own invention. Phil and Keely enter a voice-activated pudding dispenser. The conflict arises when Phil sees all the kids using things like batteries or gas to power their inventions and uses a [[ItRunsOnNonsensoleum milk engine]] on his for flavor. Phil's father Lloyd panics, explaining that milk engines weren't invented until 2075 after oil ran out, so while they'll common back home in 2121 they're an impossibility in 2004, and this puts them at risk at being found out as [[TimeTravel time-travelers]] because Phil didn't invent the Milk Engine and has no proof he designed it. Phil ends up sabotaging his own project, so his rival wins with a simple portable changing room.

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[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]

* In ''BloomCounty'', Oliver causes a panic in a science fair when he constructs a working nuclear weapon, scraping several thousand fluorescent wristwatches for the radioactive material.
-->Actually a case of art imitating life: Someone once panicked their community by trying for a nuclear weapon scout merit badge, scraping several thousand fire alarms for the radioactive material.
* In ''{{Peanuts}}'', Lucy uses Linus and his blanket for her science project, and wins a ribbon for it.

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[[folder:Music]]

* The music video for Motion City Soundtrack's ''Her Words Destroyed My Planet'' features the members of the band entering an elementary school science fair with a robot, virtual reality simulation, a cloning machine, the "theory of everything", and a giant volcano model. They all get first-place ribbons and trophies, after which some of the kids incinerate them with laser blasters.

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* ''VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}'' has the remains of an old science fair in the old abandoned Aperture Science labs. In its saner days Aperture Labs apparently sponsored science competitions for its employees' children as part of Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. The experiments on display are actually a Foreshadowing for stuff you encounter later in the game.
** All but one of the experiments is a potato battery. The remaining one is, naturally, a baking soda volcano. Wheatley, somewhat creepily, suggests that this was probably the child of working-class parents.
*** One of the projects is also signed as made by "Chell", which incidentally is the name of [[HeroicMime the main character]].

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[[folder:Webcomics]]

* An episode of ''BobAndGeorge'', in which Dr. Cossack's daughter builds a self-aware robot and actually ends up losing to a papier-mâché volcano! She lived in the Soviet Union, and since they couldn't use the usual method of consulting the preserved head of JosefStalin (Dr. Wily stole it), they gave it to the other guy because they thought a boy winning would be better for the country.
* ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'': the chapter "Two Strange Girls" focuses on a school science fair and a string of sabotages against the various projects. Kat gets annoyed that people are ignoring her studies of protein crystals and are more interested in the [[GadgeteerGenius anti-gravity device she built.]] No volcanoes this time, though.
* A recent {{Omake}} of ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' is a "Literature/{{Cinderella}}" parody for [[MadScientist sparks]], so the [[strike:prince]] twin princes are throwing a science fair, and there ''is'' a [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20081126 volcano]].
* The school science fair in ''UrgentTransformationCrisis'' involved students meddling with one another's DNA but somehow managed to avoid the obligatory volcano.
* ''Webcomic/ScrambledEggs'' has a running gag in which Quint always loses the science fair to his Vietnamese stepbrother Tuan.
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[[folder:Web Original]]
* The ''Literature/HitherbyDragons'' entry [[http://imago.hitherby.com/2004/08/the-rent-in-the-fullness-of-the-world-iii/ The Rent In The Fullness Of The World]] is based on a science fair for what appear to be gods. Martin's entry after failing to remake the world to his specifications is a study into the nature of the world. Oden's? A volcano.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* An episode of ''TinyToonAdventures'', "Buster's Guide to Goofing Off", was focused entirely on Buster waiting until the last minute to build a model volcano for the school science fair. Typical in every way possible, and on purpose.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/KingOfTheHill'' in which Connie's cousin from Los Angeles, amazingly enough, managed to persuade Bobby to build a crystal meth lab for their science project. She told him it was a "candy machine". Seriously. Bobby must not watch {{MTV}} '''or''' ''LawAndOrder''.
* Multiple times on ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', although they've only based a whole episode around it once. In that one, Lisa does a project on humiliating Bart after he destroyed her original project, a giant steroid-grown tomato intended to cure world hunger. Science fairs were also mentioned at least in passing in Lisa's segment of the RashomonStyle episode, where she had a grammar-correcting robot, and the "Treehouse of Horror" episode where she created a miniature civilization.
* In ''[[WesternAnimation/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice The Adventures Of Sam And Max Freelance Police]]'', the titular characters meet The Geek at a science fair. Her project is a black hole. That's right — a black hole.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Recess}}'' does something similar, where it's established that only Gretchen ever bothers to do anything but volcano models. This time, they hook up all their volcanoes to go off at once in a ring of fire, and end up winning. Gretchen loses because another girl steals her project, resulting in automatic disqualification.
* ''WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory'' had a science fair involved in Mandark's attempt to get revenge on Dexter for getting Deedee to destroy Mandark's lab in an earlier episode.
* ''WesternAnimation/Doug'' has an episode where the titular character builds a volcano for a science fair project. A rumor then spreads that his volcano caused the science room to explode, forcing Doug to hide from the police under an alias, Jack Bandit.
* ''WesternAnimation/SuperMarioWorld'' has a science fair where Hip and Hop build a volcano while Oogtar and Yoshi cross a rutabaga with an eggplant. Hip and Hop sneak a Piranha Plant in the "eggabega" which [[MakeMyMonsterGrow grows to gigantic proportions]] when a jealous Oogtar inadvertently feeds it fertilizer. Things take a [[FromBadToWorse turn for the worse]] when Koopa accidentally causes Hop to release huge amounts of lava through the volcano, forcing everyone to rush out of the school before it gets destroyed.
* ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' features a science fair with assigned partners. Kim and InsufferableGenius Justine build an elaborate portal to another dimension that conveniently catches a monster created by Kim's ArchEnemy (and inconveiently returns it during the fair.) Ron and Monique put a volcano together at the last minute.
* ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' features a science fair, where our heroes help Baljeet build a portal to Mars. While Dr. Doofenshmirtz recollects building elaborate ray guns, but always being beaten by the baking soda volcano, even [[ChewToy when he switched to a]] [[RuleOfFunny poetry contest.]] So he enters the fair with a huge baking soda volcano, which [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption naturally doesn't work out for him]]. The winner is a girl who constructed a set of Mechanical Arms ... to build a baking soda volcano.
* An episode of ''AllGrownUp'' uses the "parent taking control of the project" scenario. Tommy got help from Stu, his dad, on building an automatic sock sorter, but was disqualified after people found out that Stu had done the bulk of the construction after turning the project into something else entirely.
* Done in ''WesternAnimation/{{Arthur}}''. Curiously enough, no one did a volcano or solar system project, although BookDumb Binky made a project called "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Rocks Near School]]".
* The twin sisters of ''JohnnyTest'' win their school's science fairs every time. If the show wants them to find a science fair challenging, they'll be competing against adults, not classmates.
* In a subversion, Velma on ''WhatsNewScoobyDoo'' was shown bringing a project with which she'd ''already'' won a big science contest to NASA, so its experiment can be carried out in orbit. No, it ''wasn't'' a volcano; it's to study how earthworms move about in zero-g.
* The volcano part was [[ExaggeratedTrope exaggerated]] in one episode of ''{{Chaotic}}'', where ''every project but [[TheSmartGuy Kaz]]'s'' was a volcano.
* The 1980s version of ''TheLittleRascals'' had an episode titled "Science Fair and Foul", in which Buckwheat built a voice-activated TVHeadRobot to compete with Waldo's ice cream machine.
* In ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'', Lobo reveals that [[NoodleIncident his High School Science Project]] [[EarthShatteringKaboom 'fragged' the rest of his planet]]. Since there was nobody left to contest it, he gave himself an 'A' for it.
* The kids on ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'' had to get ready for one of these. Ratchet "helped" them to the extent that their projects were unrecognizable and failures- the model of the planet had several moons, the volcano was made of metal and dangerous, and the homemade bike tried to transform and exploded.
* In ''JimmyNeutron'', Cindy sues Jimmy and gets him banned from the science fair because his genius makes him win every time. He shows up anyway and gets a Nobel Prize from an invention he didn't get to send in, which almost kills his dad, the principal and the Nobel Prize guy. And Sheen had a very hungry lizard.
--> '''Principal:''' Okay! First prize goes to all the inventions that helped stop Jimmy's death machine!
* On one episode of ''Series/MonstersVsAliens'', Sqweep makes the obligatory volcano for his Earth study class. However, he built it ''full scale'', which resulted in the entire base being covered in foam.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' episode "Cold Warriors", a young Fry entered a science contest to send experiments to the space station. His was to infect a hamster with the common cold and see if being in space cures it. When there's a cold epidemic in the future, the crew goes to find the station to find a specimen of the cold virus to cure it. The specimen came from [[spoiler:another expermient, with Fry realizing that his experiment wouldn't have worked anyway.]]
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