It’s that time of year. Science fair time. Time to bring on the rolls of duct tape, stacks of colored paper, wires, motors, odd sticks, and pieces of foam.

But somehow, a clean, organized display board must rise from this mess of inventive thinking.


Poster boards and tri-folds with a faint layout grid are a great help. This helps the student—especially those in the elementary years—line up his or her images and text. But many poster boards and tri-folds do not have the grid – especially if they have a colored background.

So, I have started a method of “grid-i-fying” a poster board. It’s pretty straightforward, but I love to share:

1. Mark off the board. I use 6″ increments on a 36″ side, which breaks it down nicely. This way a student can eyeball where to place a piece, and have some guidance for placing it straight.

I don’t go overboard (no pun) by making 1 or 2″ squares like the pre-printed grid boards you can buy. I feel that many pencil markings may detract from the final work, or look a bit busy. But some projects might call for a smaller grid.

2. Mark opposite side with same increments.
3. Use t-square to gently pencil line across. If you do not have a t-square, you can use a book to make a right angle.

t-square option



book as right angle

4. Finally, mark vertically through each panel. I create a centered midline, so all photos and printouts can be centered.


Now, the poster board or tri-fold is ready to go!

Happy projects, everyone.