We are at the next stage - science project research. By now you are well on your way to creating your project. If this is the first time you’ve been to this site, you may want to start at the beginning.
By laying the ground work now, you are doing yourself a big favor – you’ll save time and effort and have more fun in the long run by doing this preparation work now – great job!
Now that you have an idea of what you want to do and you’ve picked a focused topic to work on, it’s time to do some science project research.
If you haven’t done research before, don’t sweat it! It’s not as grueling and boring as it sounds – actually it can be quite fun, and not just for us science types! Research really just comes down to finding out more about your topic. That doesn’t sound too bad right? And since you’ve picked a topic that’s based on a hobby or interest, you will actually want to find out more about it.
Up to this point we’ve gone ahead and just used our heads to remember all the details about your project, but now that we want to find lots of facts and information about your chosen topic. Now is a good time to start a project journal or notebook. It’s just a place to write down everything you want to remember about your project – science project research, any facts, ideas, or materials you might want, anything associated with your project.
This notebook doesn’t have to be paper – you could use the computer (If you do like using this computer to store your project info, you could bookmark this page by pressing CTRL-D, so you don’t have to remember the name of the site each time you want to come back.)
Depending on how you want to present your project in the future to judges or teachers, you might also want to have a timeline of discovery– meaning that you write down the date that you discover each fact you use in your project.
Another aspect of science project research is good record keeping - since you might not want to write down everything about a particular fact when you find it, it would probably be useful to you to write down where you got each fact – that way, if you want to know more details later on, you can quickly find the fact source and get anything else you want.
Ok! Now you’re all set to get facts, but where to get them? Most people do not have access to expensive encyclopedias and science journals to help them – luckily there is a great, free, on-line encyclopedia available to everyone: Wikipedia. here have been concerns in the past about the quality of information coming from Wikipedia, luckily we’ve done our research too and this is an article from Nature magazine detailing their comparison between Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica. The error rate between Britannica, a very respected (and expensive!) encyclopedia, and Wikipedia was about the same.
So feel free to use Wikipedia to do your science project research – the only word of caution we would have is to use more than one sourcewhen doing your science project research for each fact you plan to use in your project. Why? That’s being a good scientist. Even great sources of research information are not infallible 100% of the time (not even Britannica.) It’s good a practice to find more than one source of information for each of your facts – your judges and teachers will appreciate the effort and look upon that kind of diligence favorably.
So use Wikipedia (or any other source you prefer) and then find one or two more reliable sources of information to backup your findings and make sure the information you get about your facts is correct. If nothing else, feeling assured of your facts after you’ve done your science project research will give you confidence when you are presenting your project – that confidence will show and you will feel better during the whole event.
So what facts do you research? Good question! There is no single answer. Since every project is (should be!) different, the facts about your project will probably be different from an example we could come up with. A trick to this process is to use the stream of consciousness approach.
What the heck is that? Basically it boils down to this: think about your idea and your focused topic – then write down everything you can think of relating to it, anything that comes to mind. Any questions you have about it, and anything you’re curious about. If you spend about 20 minutes doing this, you should have a list with at least 10 items on it.
Take these items and look them up using your information sources. Once you have some knowledge about these facts: think about how they would fit together to form the basis of your project.
Let’s make this clear and look at our example egg science project again. Let’s say you’re doing science project research for this project. If you think about it for a few minutes, you might come up with a question: “Does the shape of the egg affect its strength?” That’s a good question! And if you were doing this project, you would write it down and then look up the answer using your information sources.
This is a long section! But we are almost done talking about science project research. The last thing we want to mention is that depending on whether you are doing a simple display board project or an experimentation project will determine how narrow your focus will end up being for your project.
Meaning that if you simply want to research and display information about a topic of interest, your science project research will be fairly broad and will probably cover quite a few details about your topic. If, however, your science project is to be based on an experiment that you will do and demonstrate, you will most likely focus narrowly on a single detail about your particular topic in order to keep your project manageable in size and time requirements.
If you are doing an experiment, then it's time to move on to the experimentation page.
If you are doing a display only project, then you can go straight on to how to do a display board.