Writing an abstract

The abstract is a short description of what your project is, why you did it, what your results look like and the analysis of those results. The latter should be the bulk of the abstract.

The abstract is written AFTER the project is completed. It is not written before or during experimentation although you can make notes that would be used in an abstract.

The ISEF abstract is limited to 250 words. That is usually a few paragraphs. This is the same for the Mercer Science and Engineering Fair although we use our own abstract form. Do not use the ISEF abstract form. We are also less strict on the word limit but remember that the abstract is going to be the way for a judge to get an idea of what your project entails so make it concise.

The abstract is printed and placed in front of the project. It can be on the project board but we recommend placing it on the table to free up space on the board for other parts of the student's presentation.


Below are some sample abstracts used by award winning projects at the fair. 

Fault-Tolerant Behavior-Based Robots

Use of robots in the real world requires robust systems that can handle diverse and changing environments. They must also contend with problems that occur within the robot itself.

A behavior-based robot design can be made more resistant to failure through the use of meta-behaviors combined with a hardware design that includes sensor and resources with overlapping capabilities. Meta-behaviors are used to handle fault conditions by changing the set of active behaviors. It is easier to create and debug each set of behaviors versus creating one set of behaviors that handle fault conditions implicitly. The latter tend to be more complex behaviors that are harder to debug.

The system developed using this approach includes robots that communicate using an infrared beacon and radio. They use video and touch sensors for obstacle avoidance. These devices provide additional overlapping capabilities. For example, the beacon and video support can be used to determine the relative position of another robot.

This design approach extends to the robot swarm. Robots cooperate using meta-behaviors to communicate error conditions and support information. In this case, a robot’s video sensor can provide a nearby robot with relative position information by detecting the nearby robot.

Creating and Optimizing Porous Metal Organic Frameworks for the Capture of Carbon Dioxide from Flue Gas Mixtures

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse identified as a major contributor to global warming. In order to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere, and slow down global warming, two issues must be addressed. First, carbon dioxide must be taken from the air in a low cost and energy efficient manner. Second, the captured carbon dioxide must be converted into useful materials or fuel. This project focuses on research addressing the first aspect, specifically, CO2 capture from flue gas mixtures by adsorption-based separation methods. Such methods have the advantages of being applicable over a broad range of temperature and pressure, and having low energy penalty. However, to make such a process practical, it is essential to develop cost effective adsorbents with high selectivity and capacity, especially at relatively low pressures (e.g. ~0.1-0.15 atm, the partial pressure of CO2 in flue gases).

Recent research shows that porous metal organic framework (MOF) materials are emerging as a promising family of such adsorbents. This project centers on the design, synthesis and optimization of MOFs for selective adsorption of CO2 over N2 in flue gas mixtures. Solvothermal and solution growth methods are employed to synthesize and grow crystals of M2(hfipbb)2(ted) [M = Co, Zn; H2hfipbb = 4,4'-(hexafluoroisopropyl idene)bis(benzoic acid); ted = triethylenediamine], and Cu3(TDPAT)·(H2O)3 [H6TDPAT = 2,4,6-tris(3,5-dicarboxylphenylamino)-1,3,5-triazine]. Structures and thermal properties are analyzed using X-ray diffraction techniques and thermogravimetric analysis. This study demonstrates that enhanced interactions between CO2 (adsorbate) and frameworks (adsorbent) may be achieved by modifying the MOF structures and composition.