Helping the Student Pick a Project
When & how to pick a topic
In many cases this is the toughest part of the project. What will your student research? Suggested starting points:
· Have them to make a list of 10 things they are curious about,
· Have them take that list home and discuss it with parents, relatives or friends
Also checkout the many LINKS.
Sophisticated high technology research is not expected in elementary grades, so it needs to be something within their grasp. Consumer product testing is a common project, but in order to be successful at a science fair, they need to be done with lots of data collection (many repetitions), a notebook showing logical thought processes through the project, math is used, and the hypothesis or problem statement, conclusion, abstract and project board are good quality.
NOTE: a good quality project board does not mean a beautiful computer generated board. It means, a project board that the judges can easily read (hand printed is ok), there is good representation of the procedure used, data analysis, conclusions, and an abstract is clearly written to summarize the project. (Abstracts are not required, but recommended – See Student and Parent tabs regarding Abstracts)
Types of Projects Allowed:
Individual, one person working alone. This individual's name goes on Student 1 line of Entry Form. (K-12th Grade)
Team (2-3 only), two or three persons working together. Either both, or all three students names go on the Entry Form. (K-12th Grade)
Group, four or more (no limit) students working on one project. Students names are NOT put on the Entry form, only the Teacher. Group projects are not permited above the 5th Grade, only Individual and Team projects in Grades 6-12. (K-5th Grades only)
Remember, the student must declare a category for judging purposes. This is usually done after competition at the school fair, but it must be the student/teacher’s decision.
Once a research topic is selected, what is next? First and foremost, get the SRC or IRB approval before starting the project.
Scientific Review Committee
Approval Must Be Obtained Before Starting the Project
The Scientific Review Committee (at SARSEF, the SRC/IRB are chaired by Dr. Paula Johnson) is mandated for us to keep our national affiliation with Science Service. A school may form their own SRC/IRB, but all rules and regulations must be followed and appropriate documentation must be completed. Contact SARSEF SRC if you have questions.
Failure to establish and enforce the SRC rules can cause us to lose our affiliation, so projects in violation of these rules will not be allowed at SARSEF. SRC approval must be obtained if a project involves Non-Human vertebrate animals, Human/Animal Tissue, Recombinant DNA, Potential Pathogens, Human Subjects, Controlled Substances, Hazardous Substances or Hazardous Devices. Human subjects include both the individual and anyone subjected to testing/questioning of any sort, whether family or not. Research on vertebrate animals includes all animals with a back bone, including family pets.
It is not uncommon for a researcher who may be a parent or a mentor to assume that he/she is an expert in a particular field and thus the student does not require prior approval. This is in error. Please advise the student that this approach will almost certainly result in a failure to qualify for SARSEF. No matter the level of expertise of the adviser, if the project involves any of the items listed above, it must be approved prior to initiating data collection.