Hi ScienceRocks03 -
As Amy said, one of the benefits of our projects is that they don't "give away the answer". However, in judging several science fairs I have definitely noticed plagiarism of Science Buddies reference material being an issue, where students will directly copy and paste text or images from the Background tab of a project for their poster board. For example, I saw a student who did the Art Bot project (which I wrote, so I recognized it right away - but the other judges in my group would have had no idea):http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Robotics_p014.shtml
He built his own robot (which he was very proud of), but his posterboard was pretty much a copy-paste of the project text and images.
Most of the time, this seemed like a lack of understanding on the part of the students, and not any malicious intent or "stealing." If I asked them if they had any help or where they got the idea for the project, most would readily answer "There's this website called Science Buddies..." - they didn't try to pass it off as their own work. It just seemed like either (a) they didn't know that copying and pasting isn't OK, or (b) even if they paraphrased, they still needed to cite their sources on their display board or in their report. So, the student in my example might not have felt that he did anything wrong, because he still built his own robot (as opposed to just stealing pictures of a robot someone else built, which is definitely "cheating").
I'm not sure if I have a direct solution (or if anyone else does), but here are a couple pointers, for what they're worth:
- We've added a "Cite This Page" section at the bottom of the Summary tab of each project, hopefully making it easier for students to cite our projects when appropriate. Example:http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Robotics_p014.shtml#summary
We have a few projects that are extremely popular and tend to pop up multiple times in some science fairs. This may depend on how heavily Science Buddies is used in your school district, but you could learn to keep an eye out for the perennial favorites and make sure they're cited properly. For example, "Electrolyte Challenge" is extremely popular:http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Chem_p053.shtml
Hope that helps a little bit!