One of the goals of research work is to develop thinking skills that will be useful to the student throughout his/her lifetime. In science, research is the primary method by which a scientist acquires new knowledge. To promote the development of these skills, each student in my tenth grade Chemistry I Honors course is required to prepare one formal research project according to a time line provided. Either a search and analysis of existing literature/experimentation OR a self-designed experimental project will be conducted in order to solve a specific scientific problem. Students have the option of presenting their findings at the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science Fair, where the merits of their projects are judged by other scientists.
Download the general guidelines and helpful tips for organizing and conducting a research-based science fair project at Getting Started. These materials describe how to select a topic and to develop a specific problem for your study. The URL addresses for web resource sites are included to facilitate on-line searches to find project ideas and reference materials. A timeline is used to break the project down into small, manageable units that will help the teacher monitor student progress while providing feedback to the researcher.
Download a tutorial on methods of analysis commonly used by scientists to evaluate research results at Methods of Analysis. Guidelines and examples are provided for correctly citing your references, using the MLA method. Check out the tips for using the metric system of measurement, expressing data and calculated values with the correct number of significant figures, then checking the precision and accuracy of your work. Graphing techniques are illustrated to help you determine what type of mathematical relationship, if any, exists between two variables. Methods of statistical analysis to determine the reliability of your results is also shown. Links to other seminars focusing on the use of laservideodisks, TI-82 calculators and CBL(calculator-based lab) units provide additional help for using other technologies to collect and process information and data.
As a scientist, you will be required to submit your work to your colleagues for peer review and evaluation. This is a critical step in the scientific process, where your experimental methods, results, and conclusions can be challenged and tested. Use the guidelines described in this lesson to help evaluate each requirement of the research project, as listed on the timelime found in Lesson 1. Download tips on how to make an effective oral presentation of your project and what the judge's will be looking for at Presenting Your Project.
Download general guidelines for writing a formal research paper to summarize the results of the project. Peer reviews of the final project are conducted to evaluate how successful the student has been in establishing a need for their research, justifying the significance of their results, and the validity of the conclusions presented. Here you will also find the PJAS Student Registration and Abstract forms that must be submitted by early December to allow you to compete in the PJAS regional meeting. Available for downloading at PJAS Registration & Abstract Forms and Termpaper Guidelines.