How to Complete
A Research Project

What are Research Projects?

Research Projects are studies conducted by people who want to learn more about their world or find a solution to a problem.  Research projects can be conducted in all areas of STEM and can be conducted by junior high and high school students! 

1. Choose an Area of Study

Find an area of STEM that interests you!  Maybe it's Computer Science, Animal Science, or Microbiology.  Make sure you have access to your area of STEM, as it would be difficult to study moon rocks in junior high or high school!  Science Buddies offers a science fair project wizard that may help you in this process!

2. Find Something Specific to Test About Your STEM Field

The goal of the ND SERSEF is to inspire students to discover something new through studying or testing a hypothesis or experimental design.  For example, maybe you want to study Plant Sciences.  Within the discipline of Plant Sciences, there are a lot of things that you could find out.  Maybe you think that flowers will grow taller if they are grown in larger pots.  Your hypothesis could then be "Flowers grown in 2 foot diameter pots will grow taller than flowers grown in 6 inch diameter pots."  You would then plan how to test your hypothesis, which is Step 3.  Make sure that your hypothesis is testable, as you probably can't find out what moon rock is made of in high school.

3. Plan How to Test Your Hypothesis

The next step is to create a research plan to test your hypothesis.  A research plan details how you plan to test your hypothesis, and needs to be approved by your local or SERSEF Scientific Review Committee before you begin your research.  (Click HERE for the Research Plan Form.)  In the previous example of the hypothesis "Flowers grown in 2 ft. diameter pots will grow taller than flowers grown in 6 in. diameter pots," you could test your hypothesis by growing 20 flowers in 2 ft. diameter pots and 20 flowers in 6 in. diameter pots and then determine which flowers grew taller after 6 months.

4. Test Your Hypothesis

After forming your hypothesis and having your research plan approved, you can now test your hypothesis.  During this stage of your research, you will complete the testing you described in your research plan!

5. Analyze the Data You Collected in Your Project

Your next step is to analyze and interpret the data you collected!  This is a very important step in your research, as it would be hard to determine which flowers grew taller - the ones grown in the bigger pot or smaller pot - by just looking at your data points in a notebook.  Instead of looking at this list of 40 datapoints, you can calculate the average height of the flowers grown in the bigger pots and the average height of the flowers grown in the smaller pots and compare the two averages.  There are a lot of other ways to analyze data and you can talk to your science teachers to learn more!

6. Prepare to Present Your Research