Some science project ideas for fifth graders are energy-efficient windows and artificial lightning. Both of these projects use simple, household items and are easy enough for fifth graders to perform with adult supervision.
To explore energy-efficient windows, the student cuts one window into the side of each of three cardboard boxes. She lines each window with plastic wrap and covers the first window with a scrap of thick curtain material, covers the second window with thin curtain material, and leaves the final window uncovered. The student should place a plastic bottle full of very hot water into each box, check the temperature of each bottle, then seal the boxes shut with duct tape. After allowing the boxes to sit for three hours, she can test each bottle with a thermometer to see which one retained the most heat.
To make artificial lightning, the fifth-grader pushes a thumbtack into the bottom of a foil pie plate. Next, she anchors a ballpoint pen to the pie plate with a drop of glue and rubs a Styrofoam block with a wool sock to generate a negative charge. She must grab the pen to lift the pie plate and place the pie plate on top of the Styrofoam block so that the point of the thumbtack is embedded into it. The student moves her hand slowly toward the pie plate while avoiding touching it. With the lights turned down, she can see the lightning spark.