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Basic Process for Elementary and Middle School Students
The following section will provide an overview of the basic process of doing a research project at the elementary level. For more information and ways to do a more advanced project, go to “Step By Step.”
- Think: What topics do you already care about or are interested in?
- Generate three ideas about that topic that you are curious about.
- Don’t think about the solutions at first, just think about what needs to be done better, faster or correctly.
- Narrow down to one favorite idea you would like explore.
- Make it into a question you want answered.
- Start researching the history of this problem, and what research has already been done on the topic.
- Write a short report about the problem. Explain what you learned. This will become your “background research” for your display board.
- Write an introduction, telling us why you are interested in this problem and what you will do.
- Be thinking about the many different outcomes to the question you are asking.
- Brainstorm ways to test and ways to answer your own question. This will be your research plan.
- Ask for SRC permission if it involves humans, animals or things that could be dangerous.
- Make a list of materials you’ll need.
- Write your specific method for testing, step by step.
- Think of all the variables you can control.
- Think of all the variables you cannot control, but will discuss at the end that might have affected your results. All good researchers acknowledge this.
- Begin your testing. Collect data.
- Take photos during the research/testing phase, if possible.
- Write everything down in your journal — even mistakes!
- Type up the method or procedure you used.
- Number your steps or make a flow chart.
- Gather data and chart results.
- Organize and report the data.
- Analyze data, using mathematics, statistics and graphs.
- Form conclusions – which are the answers to your question -based on the data.
- Did you come up with other questions along the way?
- Discuss the challenges you encountered — and limitations, such as variables that could have influenced results.
- Discuss implications. Explain why your research is important.
- Paste all sections onto display board.
- Select a catchy, creative title.
- Decorate and add color and photos. Be creative!
- Write your final research report by taking the research plan you wrote at the beginning and then adding in all that you did and discovered doing your project.
- Add reference section to your report. Include it on your board, if possible.
- Remember: It is always wise to allow extra time — just in case it is needed!