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This term you will be undertaking a scientific investigation and presenting your results at the Senior School Science Fair in Week 10. Each step of the investigation process will be explained in class and we will undertake a whole class investigation to model the process to you. You will be given some time at school to work on your project. However the bulk of this investigation will be done at home. This booklet contains information to help you plan, research, and conduct your investigation. There are many elements involved in a science fair project. Time management will be a very important factor in a successful project. Here is a suggested timetable to guide your work at home. Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 6 Ask a question Do background research Construct a hypothesis Test hypothesis by doing experiment Analyse your data and draw a conclusion Communicate you results (written reports) Week 2 Week 2 – 3 Week 3 Week 3 - 6 Week 7 Week 7 - 9
We have set some due dates for pieces of work to be completed and handed in to your teacher. Project Element Proposal Form completed and signed by parents. Due Date Friday 4th May Friday 11th May Friday 18th May
Background Research Plan worksheet completed.
A draft Background Research Report completed. Your report does not need to be published at this stage. It should be in draft form, carefully edited and ready for conferencing with your teacher
A draft Experimental Procedure completed Verbal progress report – come to school prepared to talk about your progress and the results of your experiment
Friday 25th May Friday 8th June
Completed Project Due
Friday 22nd June
FINDING AN IDEA FOR YOUR SCIENCE FAIR PROJECT One of the most important considerations in picking a topic for your science fair project is to find a subject that you find interesting. You'll be spending a lot of time on it, so you don't want your science fair project to be about something that is boring. We know that finding a topic is the hardest part of a science fair project, and sometimes you just need a little help focusing on what sorts of topics would be of interest to you. There are links on the classroom blogs to websites that may help you come up with ideas. 1. THE QUESTION Once you have found an interesting topic, the next step is to find a question you want to answer. A scientific question usually starts with: How, What, When, Who, Which, Why, or Where. For example, if you are interested in robots, your question might be "How much current does a robot's arm use to lift a weight?" These are examples of good science fair project questions: • • • • • • How does water purity affect surface tension? When is the best time to plant soybeans? Which material is the best insulator? How does arch curvature affect load-carrying strength? How do different foundations stand up to earthquakes? What sugars do yeast use?
Use the Project Proposal form to help you decide if your question is suitable. You will need to decide on a topic and question quickly in order to have enough time to conduct your investigation and write up your results before the due date. If you are having trouble coming up with a topic please ask your teacher for help! The Project Proposal Form is due on Friday 4th May 2. BACKGROUND RESEARCH Background research is necessary so that you know how to design and understand the theory behind your experiment. You do research so that you can make a prediction of what will occur in your experiment, and then whether that prediction is right or wrong, you will have the knowledge to understand what caused the behavior you observed. When we judge the projects we will be looking to see evidence that you understand why your experiment turned out the way it did. Complete the Background Research Plan Worksheet to help structure your research.
You will be given time in class to conduct research, but you will also need to do research as homework. The Background Research Plan Worksheet is due Friday 11th May You should also have started researching at home by this date
WRITING A RESEARCH REPORT Your research report is a summary of the answers to the research questions you generated in your background research plan. It's a review of the relevant publications (books, magazines, websites) discussing the topic you want to investigate. Your research report should also include a summary of the theory behind your experiment to show that you understand why your experiment turns out the way it does. Your Research Report should include Your question and an explanation of why you have chosen to investigate this topic. This lets reader will know the purpose of your paper. You need to include definitions of the important key words, concepts and theories that relate you experiment. You need to answer the relevant background research questions. An edited draft of your Research Report is due on Friday 18th May 3. HYPOTHESIS After researching your question, you should have a good idea about how things work. You should be able to make an “educated guess” about the answer to your question. This “educated guess” is called the hypothesis. Most of the time a hypothesis is written like this: "If _____[I do this] _____, then _____[this]_____ will happen." Your hypothesis should be something that you can actually test. You need to be able to measure both "what you do" and "what will happen." The hypothesis must be worded so that it can be tested in your experiment. Example Hypotheses • If I open the tap, then it will increase the flow of water. • Raising the temperature of a cup of water will increase the amount of sugar that dissolves. • If a plant receives fertiliser, then it will grow to be bigger than a plant that does not receive fertiliser. • If I put fenders on a bicycle, then they will keep the rider dry when riding through puddles.
PLANNING A FAIR TEST Conducting a fair test is one of the most important ingredients of doing good, scientifically valuable experiments. To insure that your experiment is a fair test, you must change only one factor at a time while keeping all other conditions the same. Scientists call the changing factors in an experiment “variables.” Planning a Fair Test I am going to find out what happens to … when I change… To ensure I conduct a fair test, I am going to keep these things constant (the same)
WRITING YOUR EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE Now that you have come up with a hypothesis and planned a fair test to investigate whether it is true or false, you now need to write up an experimental procedure. An experimental procedure is a step-by-step recipe for your science experiment. A good procedure is so detailed and complete that it lets someone else duplicate your experiment exactly! Your Experimental Procedure must include A clear description of what it is you will be testing. What is the one and only variable you will change? What will remain the same? A step-by-step list of everything you must do to perform your experiment. Think about everything you will need to do to complete your experiment. You must record exactly what needs to be done in each step. How are you going to measure your results? How many times are you going to repeat your experiment? A draft of your Experimental Procedure is due on Friday 25th of May 4. CONDUCTING YOUR INVESTIGATION By now you have put a lot of hard work into your science fair project. You are finally ready to conduct your experiment. You will need to Gather materials Follow your written procedure exactly Make sure your measurements are exact Make careful observations (be sure to record these) Collect and record data at regular intervals Write down any problems that occur or unexpected results Take lots of photos along the way. These will be helpful for your display board
Be honest about your results. Even if things go wrong you can still produce an excellent investigation by explaining why the unexpected result occurred and what you would need to do differently next time.
DATA TABLES You should create a table to record your data in. Your table should include the “independent variable” (what has been changed) and the “dependent variable” (what has been measured). Tables help us to easily see how what has been changed has affected what has been measured. They give a picture of the information collected and helps use to identify patterns and trends in the results. Here is an example of a data table: What was changed What was measured Temperature (°C) Number of seeds germinated 10 degrees 2 12 degrees 5 14 degrees 7 16 degrees 11 18 degrees 16 20 degrees 23 The information in your data table will be used to create at least one graph for your display. The type of graph you use will depend on what you have changed and what you have measured. The table on the next page give examples of which type of graph should be drawn for different types of variables. If you are not sure what type of graph is appropriate to display your results, please talk to your teacher.
5. ANALYSING RESULTS AND WRITING A CONCLUSION You’ve finished your experiment and you have your results. The next step is to analyse them and write a conclusion. Your conclusion should answer the following questions What does your data tell you? Can you analyse your data to find any relationships, patterns or trends? What did you conclude? Was your hypothesis correct? Why/why not? Is this what you expected? Why/why not? Was your experiment a fair test? If not, why? Are there any possible improvements you could make to your experiment? Do you think these changes would impact on the results?
6. PRESENTATION / DISPLAYING RESULTS And finally you need to prepare a display board to communicate your investigation to others. You will be provided with a standard, three-panel display board that unfolds.
Organise your information like a newspaper so that your audience can quickly follow the thread of your experiment by reading from top to bottom, then left to right. Include each step of your science fair project: Question, hypothesis, background research, and so on. Your information should be typed. Use a font size of at least 16 points for the text on your display board, so that it is easy to read from a few feet away. It's okay to use slightly smaller fonts for captions on picture and tables. The title should be big and easily read from across the room. Choose one that accurately describes your work, but also grabs peoples' attention. Use photos and diagrams to present non-numerical data, to propose models that explain your results, or just to show your experimental setup. But, don't put text on top of photographs or images. It can be very difficult to read. Use graphs to present numerical data. Here is a checklist of items that should be included o Your name on the display board o Pictures of yourself o Your question and hypothesis o Your background research paper o Your experimental procedure and a list of materials and equipment o Your data chart o Graphs and diagrams that illustrate your results o Your analysis and conclusion o Captions that include the source for every picture or image o Acknowledgements of people who helped you o Equipment such as your laboratory apparatus or your invention
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