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The following is the basic process for your students who are completing a research project. For more information and explanations, as well as how to complete projects at the advanced level, please go to “Step by Step.”
Feel free to shorten the process to fit your students’ levels and needs.
- Ask your students to think: What do you care about or are you passionate about? Animals, stars, sports? They ALL involve science!
- Ask your students what books in the library, educational TV shows, or Internet sites do they stop to look at or read?
- Have students begin their log book now, and write something each and every day from now on about what they are thinking.
- Have students generate three areas of science and ideas or “problems” that they are curious about or wonder about.
- Tell them not to think about the solutions at first. Just think about what needs to be done better, faster or “right.”
- Then, help them narrow down to one favorite topic they would like explore. Make it into a question they want answered!
- Have your students start researching the history of their problem, and why it is a problem. Find out what has already been done.
- You may want to have students write a research report/plan on the problem.
- Have students write a statement of the problem which will become their research question.
- Students will need to brainstorm ways to answer their own question by testing new ideas.
- Check to see if students will need to ask for SRC permission if their project involves humans, animals or things that could be dangerous. Follow through with the appropriate SRC paperwork for the project.
- Ask your students to make list of materials they will need. Define what they mean by certain terms.
- Have your students think of all the variables they CAN control.
- Have your students think of all the variables they just cannot control that might affect their result — but that they will discuss at the end, as all good researchers do.
- Ask students to write their specific procedure for testing. Plan to do re-trials, re-testing — and use enough subjects.
- Students will work on their experiment. They will collect and record their data.
- Make sure students conduct enough trials, and include enough subjects (people or things).
- Have students take photos all along the way (but not of peoples’ faces).
- Students need to record everything in their journal — even mistakes and problems!
- Have students type up the final procedure they actually used. Number the steps.
- Students will need to organize the data. Have them write up the results they found based on their data.
- Help students analyze their data. Have them put it into charts and graphs and explain each one.
- Students will need to form conclusions based on their data. What did they find as an answer to their original question or problem?
- Ask them to discuss variables that could have influenced results. Tell us why their project is important for the real world.
- Have students type up each section and create graphs and/or charts. Ask students to plan out and represent all sections on slides using Google Slides, Microsoft PowerPoint, or Keynote.
- Encourage students to select a catchy, creative title.
- Ask students to decorate and add color, and photos. Encourage them to use creativity to make judges want to read their project!
- Have students write their final research report by taking the report/plan they wrote at the beginning as background, and then adding in all that they did and found while doing their project.
*It is always wise to allow extra time, just in case it is needed.
Need additional help and free resources? Go to www.sciencebuddies.org for more information.