Xavier High School Science
Semester Research Project
Mr. Greg Norris
Resources taken from the New York Academy of Science NYCSEF
and the Intel ISEF.
1. Obtain a 1.5 to 2 inch width black/blue binder, preferably one
with a plastic covering so that you can place a cover sheet in it.
2. Keep all project materials in order within this binder. This
binder will serve as your final project grade.
3. Read carefully, adhere to deadlines, ask questions and have
WHY DO A SCIENCE PROJECT?
Good scientists, both young and old, frequently use a process to study what they see in the world. This process
has been referred as the ‘Scientific Method’ or more recently as the ‘Inquiry Cycle’. The following stages listed
below will help you produce a good scientific experiment:
1) Be curious, choose a limited subject, ask a question; identify or originate/define a problem. It is important that
this question be a ‘testable’ question – one in which data is taken and used to find the answer. A testable
question can further be identified as one in which one or more variables can be identified and tested to see
the impact of that variable on the original set of conditions. The question should not merely be an ‘information’
question where the answer is obtainable through literature research.
2) Review published materials related to your problem or question. This is called background research.
3) Evaluate possible solutions and guess why you think it will happen (hypothesis).
4) Experimental design (procedure). In designing the experiment, it is critical that only one variable – condition
that may effect the results of the experiment – is changed at a time. This makes the experiment a ‘controlled’
5) Challenge and test your hypothesis through your procedure of experimentation (data collection) and
analysis of your data. Use graphs to help see patterns in the data.
6) Draw conclusions based on empirical evidence from the experiment. Use the data to back up your claims.
7) Prepare your report and exhibit.
8) Review and discuss the findings with peer group / professional scientists / teachers
9) New question(s) may arise from your discussions.
This sets the stage for another research project as new questions are raised from others and the process repeats
itself. The hypothesis often changes during the course of the experiment. Supporting or not supporting your
hypothesis is secondary to what is learned and discovered during the research.
Your research project should include the following:
Research Plan- Covers #1 through #4 in the Timeline of Deadlines on the next page.
Research Abstract - Length: 150 – 250 words (cannot exceed 250 words)
Research Paper - 5-12 pages, 20 page maximum, 12 Pt. Font, Times New Roman, Double-
spaced, 1” Margins on all sides
Project Display Board - 15 inches deep (38 centimeters), 48 inches length (122
centimeters), 72 inches height (183 centimeters).
Oral Presentation - 10 minutes PPT.
Timeline of Deadlines
Aspect of the project Date to be
1. Topic choice and original “testable” research question- one in which one or
more variables can be identified and tested to see the impact of that variable on the original set of conditions.
2. Background Research, Review of Literature, and Bibliography-
2 pages, 12 Pt. Font, Times New Roman, Double-spaced, 1” Margins on all sides with at least three sources.
Paper to include the following:
The Theory behind the topic, including key concepts, terms, and equations (if applicable).
Method. The best techniques for investigating the topic and how they are performed.
History. Have other investigated this topic and what did they find?
Significance. Why is the answer to the question important?
A detailed list of the sources that will be used for the experimental research. Source Requirement: 5
sources--at least 3 offline sources including one encyclopedia.
3. Original hypothesis- Evaluate possible solutions and guess why you think it will happen. ½
page, 12 Pt. Font, Times New Roman, Double-spaced, 1” Margins on all sides.
4. Experiment Design (variables, materials list, procedure)- In designing the
experiment, it is critical that only one variable – condition that may effect the results of the experiment – is Sections 1 – 4
changed at a time. This makes the experiment a ‘controlled’ experiment. 1-2 pages, 12 Pt. Font, Times New Completed and
Roman, Double-spaced, 1” Margins on all sides. submitted.
http://www.sciencebuddies.com/mentoring/project_variables.shtml DUE DATE:
http://www.sciencebuddies.com/mentoring/project_materials_list.shtml 21st October
5. Data Collection round 1- Challenge and test your hypothesis through your procedure of
experimentation (data collection) and
analysis of your data. Use graphs to help see patterns in the data. 1-2 pages, 12 Pt. Font, Times New
Roman, Double-spaced, 1” Margins on all sides.
6. Data Collection round 2- Same as above.
7. Data Analysis and Graphs- The analysis of the experimental data. A summary of the
findings of the experiment.
8. Conclusions- Draw conclusions based on empirical evidence from the experiment. 2-3 pages, 12 Sections 5 – 8
Pt. Font, Times New Roman, Double-spaced, 1” Margins on all sides. Completed and
9. Research Paper completed- Use the sections already written and tie it all together. Be sure Completed and
to consult the requirements for the paper included in this packet. 5-12 pages, 20 page maximum, 12 Pt. Font, Submitted.
Times New Roman, Double-spaced, 1” Margins on all sides DUE DATE:
http://www.sciencebuddies.com/mentoring/project_final_report.shtml 5th FEBRUARY
10. Abstract- Length: 150 – 250 words (cannot exceed 250 words)
example abstract: http://www.sciencebuddies.com/mentoring/project_sample_abstract.shtml
11. Project Display Board completed- 15 inches deep (38 centimeters), 48 inches length Completed and
(122 centimeters), 72 inches height (183 centimeters). Submitted.
http://www.sciencebuddies.com/mentoring/project_display_board.shtml DUE DATE:
12. Oral Presentation- 10 minutes PPT.
The Best Reports and Presentations will be offered the opportunity
to present at the Science Symposium on the 5th March
Research Paper Requirements and Guidelines
Research Papers must abide by the following guidelines: VII. Literature Cited
��5-12 pages, 20 page maximum Students should take care to indicate the sources of the
��12 Pt. Font, Times New Roman information within their research paper. In addition, in-text
��Double-spaced, 1” Margins on all sides citations in the form of author’s last name and year of
publication are essential. References in the literature cited
All research papers should adhere to the following section should be listed in alphabetical order and works by the
format: same author should be arranged chronologically.
I. Introduction VIII. Appendix
The introduction should contain a description of the problem, The appendix is meant to contain supplemental information
information regarding why the student chose this project and such as questionnaires used in the experiment and figures that
why the research is important, and a discussion of the are not essential to the discussion in the paper.
anticipated results of the experiment.
Research Paper Checklist
II. Methods and Materials Abstract:
The methods and materials section should provide information
regarding how the study was conducted, including the
Summary of research and findings.
equipment used and the procedures followed. Students should Introduction:
provide enough detail regarding procedures so that the reader Description of the problem and hypothesis
could repeat the experiment. This section should be written in Scope of this study compared to similar studies
past tense narrative format, not as a list of numbered steps. Brief historical background with correctly cited
Students should only give details pertinent to the work they references
themselves performed. Definitions of specialized terms
Materials and Methods:
The results section should inform the reader of what the Precise descriptions of the sample(s), reagents,
student found. This section is the appropriate location for any and equipment used
figures or graphs. Students should take care to label, number, Summary of the procedure used
and provide a short descriptive caption for all figures and Description of data collection methods
IV. Discussion Summary of data collected from the experiment
The discussion section should contain interpretations of the Accurate statistical analyses of the data
figures and data from the results section. This section should
Effective use of graphs/tables/figures
answer whether the data supports or rejects the initial
hypothesis. In addition, the section should contain a discussion Titles and concise captions on
of the conclusions and any ambiguities of the experiment. graphs/tables/figures
Discussion and Conclusion:
V. Conclusion Summary of the major findings
The conclusion section should provide a brief summary of the Clear analysis of the evidence supporting or
principal findings of the work and can provide insight into negating the hypothesis
future experiments. Possible explanations for the findings
Comparison with the findings of other
The acknowledgments section is meant to recognize mentors,
teachers, and anyone else who directly helped with the Recommendations for future studies and/or
Effective use of results in explanation
Oral Report Guidelines
Students have ten minutes to present their research to the teacher and their peers.
Following student presentations, the teacher and students have five minutes to ask
questions about the research, paper, and presentation. The teacher aids in
maintaining the 10 minute presentation schedule by providing students with a five and
eight minute signal. At the end of the ten minute session, students must stop their
presentation, even if they are not finished.
(1) The best way to improve presentations is through practice.
(2) Don’t rush through your presentation.
(3) Explain your research in enough detail so the audience understands what was
done, how it was done, and what was learned.
(4) Avoid using excessive jargon or unnecessary terminology; if necessary, explain
specialized terms briefly.
(5) Acknowledgements may be included at the end of the presentation.
(6) Graphs, tables, or other images should be kept simple and uncluttered (don’t forget
to label both axes of graphs and state significance of position and shape of data).
Use of Audio/Visual Aids:
NO written handouts are permitted. The first visual should be equivalent to the title
page of the paper. A typical presentation will contain 5-6 visuals. Students may
prepare slides, PowerPoint presentations, or video clips.
Students are encouraged to bring a back-up of their presentation materials—just in
Slide 1: Title Slide—should include the testable question to be answered with the
Slide 2: Background—should give a brief overview of the research already done on
Slide 3: Hypothesis
Slide 4: Experiment Procedure—explain briefly how you gathered evidence through
Slide 5 and 6: Data Analysis—Charts, graphs, relevant pics related to your
Slide 7: Conclusions—what does it all mean? What do your findings seem to
suggest? Was your hypothesis on the money?
Slide 8: References