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STEM Fair. Oliver Beach Elementary Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Scientific Method. Step 1: Summary and Approval Form. Step 2: BACKGROUND INFORMATION (Research Report).

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stem fair

Oliver Beach Elementary

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

step 2 background information research report

The next step in your project is to collect as much factual information as you can about your topic. This is not about your experiments and should not include any predictions. Your research report should be at least 2 paragraphs. Each paragraph should be about 4 – 6 sentences. You need to include a bibliography.

sources of background information
Sources of Background Information

Books Magazines Newspapers

Interview Internet


All resources that you use in your project must be listed with your research report. Make sure you list each one alphabetically and in proper format. You should have at least 3 references. The more references you have, the better your project will be.

Author’s last name, First name, Title of the book, where published: publisher, year published, pages used


Hemphill, Gene, Lima Beans and You, New York, NY: Hyde Publishing Corporation,2004, pp.34-43

log book
Log Book

Inside the log book: brainstorm project topics, take notes for your research report. Record your: question, hypothesis, materials, procedure, variables, chart, drawings and diagrams, graph, written results and conclusion.

step 3 problem statement question
Step 3: PROBLEM Statement(Question)

The first step in the scientific method is to identify your problem. It should be written in the form of a question. You can use your problem as the title of your science fair project.

testable questions
Testable Questions

What is a Testable Question?

Testable questions are those that can be answered through hands-on investigation by the student. The key difference between a general interest science question and a testable question is that testable questions are always about changing one thing to see what the effect is on another thing.

A good question must lead to an investigation (experiment) not a report, a demonstration or model. The question may ask about the effect of one thing upon another.

should be one from which you can collect data (ideally measurements or direct observation) rather than opinions.

should be specific rather than really broad.

is one which the materials needed to experiment with are easy to find.

examples of testable questions
Examples of “testable” questions:
  • How does temperature affect the bounce of a basketball?
  • How does changing the height of a ramp affect how far a car will travel?
  • What affect does the color or type of light have on plant growth?
  • What affect does the type of soil have on the growth of a tomato plant?
  • What affect does the surface have on the distance a car or skate board will travel?
  • How does temperature affect the strength of a magnet?
examples of poor questions
Examples of poor questions:
  • Question: How do volcanoes erupt?
  • Reason: This project would be a model not an experiment, is too vague (broad), and will not involve data collection.
  • Question: What are optical illusions and how do people see them?
  • Reason: This question is not an experiment and asks for opinions not data.
  • Question: What effect does caffeine have on the bloodstream?
  • Reason: This project is one for which students would not have the materials necessary to test it OR would involve the ingestion of caffeine to observe reactions in a vertebrate animal (including humans) and would be disqualified.
step 4 form a hypothesis
Step 4: Form a HYPOTHESIS

Now that you understand your project a little better you have to predict what your experiment’s results will be. This is your hypothesis. A hypothesis is no ordinary guess. It is an “educated” guess, because you will use your background research to help you predict the results of your experiment before you actually perform it.

Write your hypothesis as an “If/Then/because” statement.

If I water the plants, then they will grow, becausemost plants need water in order to survive.

step 5 materials
  • Materials: List all the materials you plan to use in your experiment. Make sure you list the amounts and units. (how many? How much?) If possible use the metric system. Make sure you have enough to complete 3 trials. (especially plants)
step 6 procedure
  • Procedure: List all the steps of your experiment in the exact order you will perform them. (numbered steps) Be clear, but keep it simple. Other people should be able to replicate your experiment by following your procedure.
step 7 identify variables
Step 7: Identify VARIABLES
  • Controlled: In every experiment, there are factors that remain the same. These are the controlled variables
  • Independent: The one factor in your experiment that is intentionally changed in your investigation is the independent variable. (You can have only one independent variable.)
  • Dependent: The factor that is being observed and measured. This is the dependent variable.
step 8 perform your experiment
Step 8: Perform your EXPERIMENT

After recording steps 3 – 7 in your log book, show them to your teacher. If your teacher approves them, you are now ready to begin experimenting!

It’s a good idea to have an adult present when experimenting!

repeat the experiment
Repeat the experiment

After you have finished your experiment run it at least two more times. You must complete at least three trials. The more the test are repeated, the more accurate your results will be. Find the mean/average of these three trials.

steps 9 and 10 results and written results observe record and analyze your data
Steps 9 and 10: Results and Written Results Observe, record, and analyze your data.

Remember to keep a record (log book) of all the data you have gathered in your experiment. Use data chart or table, graph (line or bar), diagrams and photographs to help show your data. Using your data and observations, tell your findings. Give only the facts to back up your results.

step 11 state your conclusions
Step 11: State your CONCLUSIONS

You should begin your conclusion by saying if your hypothesis was supported by your data or not supported by your data. You should answer your original question. You should include inferences that can be made from the results of the experiment. Tell about any problems that happened during your experiment that may have affected the results. Include any questions the could be investigated in the future, related to your original investigation. At the end of your conclusion, tell how your project could contribute to real life situations. This is known as your application.

experimental projects
What is an experimental project?

A good experimental project involves the student in a journey of discovery, driven by curiosity. It must be based on a testable question or problem. It includes a problem or question; hypothesis; independent, dependent, and controlled variables; data display in the form of a graph or chart showing the results of the manipulation of the independent variable; a conclusion including a restatement of the problem or question, a statement of support or non-support of the hypothesis, an explanation and analysis of the results, and a description of further research.

Experimental Projects …
experimental projects cont
Experimental Projects (cont.)
  • Acceptable examples:
      • include any question that is answered by doing an experiment or investigation and includes the control of independent, dependent, and controlled variables.
  • Unacceptable examples:
    • The growth of bacteria from our environment such as washed/unwashed hands, cutting boards, kitchen sponges
    • The use of vertebrate animals (including humans) as test subjects
    • The use of controlled substances such as drugs, alcohol, or dangerous chemicals
    • Models or demonstrations such as volcanoes
observational projects
Observational Projects …
  • What is an observational project?

Projects based on a question formed from prior observations and includes a hypothesis, data collected by scientists, observation, or surveys of people , animals, or the environment displayed in the form of a chart or graph, an explanation of the data identifying patterns and trends, and a conclusion that answers the question.

observational projects cont
Observational Projects (cont.)
  • Acceptable examples:
    • Weather questions involving the use of data collected by scientists in the field
    • Astronomy questions involving data from satellites, probes, space missions, or telescopes
    • Physical science questions involving mathematical concepts
    • Environmental questions involving movement or behavior of animals
  • Unacceptable examples:
    • Any project that involves the giving of food, water, exercise, or learning to any vertebrate animal (including humans)
    • Reports based on a collection of facts not centered on a question
link to bcps website to help students and inform parents

Link to BCPS website to help students and inform parents