But there are a few misconceptions out there. Click "Read More to see the truth about three of the common flawed ideas about lapbooks. Your board is all ready to go. Your talk is prepared. But as you look at the science fair requirements you read the following: Your entry information should include your name and age along with the title of your project and an abstract limited to a maximum of words.
How in the world are you going to fit a months' worth of work into words? Here are the five key questions: What was your topic and why did you choose it? What was your hypothesis?
High school science fair and research integrity
What did you do for your experiment? What did you learn from your project? A Sample Abstract Here is an abstract from our daughter's project to give you an idea of what it can look like: I was fascinated by an experiment we recently did on using an acid to plate copper on a nail. Wrapping it up Develop your words. Write your draft. Whittle it down. Need some help getting started with your project? Fig 1 shows student attitudes regarding from whom it would be reasonable to receive help. Teachers, articles, and parents were selected with the highest frequency. Concerns have been raised about the fairness of science fair when students have access to scientist mentors and professional laboratory facilities [ 18 , 19 ].
Fig 2 shows student answers to the practical question about from whom they actually obtained help. For both HS and PHSy students, teachers, articles, and parents were to a similar extent the main sources of help they received. Fig 3 shows student attitudes regarding what kind of help it would be reasonable to expect. Coaching for the interview, fine tuning reports, and gathering background information were selected most frequently.
One student arrow thought it would be reasonable to copy the project from someone else, which would amount to plagiarism.
Step 1 - Develop the Words
HS and PHSy showed significant differences in their expectations about coaching, development of the idea, and performing the experiments. Fig 4 shows the types of help that students actually received. PHSy students were more likely to receive help gathering background information and performing the experiments.
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Fig 5 shows student answers to questions about obstacles encountered in doing science fair. For HS students, time, coming up with the main idea, and limited resources were selected most often as the obstacles encountered. PHSy students also encountered these obstacles frequently. In addition, they reported experiencing limited skills and limited knowledge more so than HS students.
Fig 6 shows student answers to questions about how they overcame the obstacles. PHSy students reported more than HS students picking a familiar topic and stopping work on the project as means to overcome obstacles. One PHSy student arrow reported making up his data as the means to overcome obstacles.
This student was required to participate in science fair and carried out an individual project. Regarding number of obstacles encountered, he was at the extreme margin and checked all 11 potential obstacles.
Writing an Introduction for a Scientific Paper – Writing Across the Curriculum – UW–Madison
However, when asked about obstacles, PHSn students imagined that many more obstacles would be encountered by science fair participants than actually was the case. Table 4 summarizes the extent of these differences and shows anticipated obstacles were much higher for PHSn compared to those actually encountered by PHSy and HS students. Fig 8 shows the ways in which PHSn students anticipated that students who participated in science fair would overcome obstacles. Compared to HS and PHSy students, an increase in several categories was observed including picking a familiar topic, being kept on track by someone else, and changing the hypothesis to fit the data.
Unexpectedly, however, behaviors corresponding to scientific misconduct also were anticipated by the PHSn students arrows , i. Of those who expected misconduct behavior, more than half anticipated both making up the data and changing the data to fit the hypothesis. The data analyzed in this study were sorted by gender. No differences between boys and girls in experiences or expectations were detected that reached statistical significance. Research misconduct has become an important matter of concern in the scientific community [ 1 ], but the extent to which such behavior occur early in science education has received little attention [ 7 ].
Unlike the situation with undergraduates, only a single peer-reviewed study about misconduct in high school science fair has been published [ 17 ]. We initiated our research on science fair because gaining a better understanding of when problems with research integrity emerge is important not only for understanding the underlying causes, but also for deciding when it is appropriate to introduce education about research integrity into the science education curriculum.
The one peer reviewed study on research integrity in high school science fair involved 24 students 7thth grade who were required to carry out a project, and who had competed in the year Bell Montreal Regional Fair [ 21 ].
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We adapted our survey questions from the Montreal study and tested a larger and more diverse student sample consisting of high school students who had just participated in the Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair and post high school students—undergraduate, graduate, and medical students—doing research at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
We included post high school as well as high school students for several reasons. First, most research on the high school science fair experience has focused on students still in high school, whereas the post high school cohort in our study had subsequently pursued STEM career interests.
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Second, most high school science fair studies have focused on single geographic groups. We were able to compare the experiences of students from a local geographic cohort DRSEF participants with the more diverse cohort of post high school students who come from all over Texas and the United States. Third, we anticipated that post high school students might be more open to sharing their high school science fair experiences compared to students who were still in high school and might have been reluctant to do so even though we told them the surveys were anonymous.
Although we cannot exclude the possibility that students did not fully report misconduct, previous work on student cheating in high school and college has been mostly based on such anonymous and voluntary surveys. Fear of failure is a common explanation for cheating in high school [ 25 ] and was suggested by Syer and Shore to be a likely explanation for the science fair misconduct they observed in the Montreal study [ 17 ]. Competitive science fair typically does not value failed experiments and disappointing data even though these are common features of everyday practice of science [ 16 ].
In our study, the one undergraduate student who reported making up his data fit into a potential failure profile in that he encountered every potential obstacle in his project and did not receive the help that he expected from teachers. However, he did receive help from parents and siblings, whereas some students reported receiving no help from any source. Also, the one student in our survey who reported committing misconduct was required to do science fair as was the case for all the students in the Montreal study.
Neither the Montreal survey nor ours asked students specifically about the fairness of a science fair requirement. This question will be important for future studies since a perception of lack of fairness has been implicated in research misconduct by scientists [ 4 ]. Fine tuning the report and gathering background information were important types of help received for both groups.
How to Write a Science Fair Project Report
In addition, receiving help coaching for the interview HS students and performing the experiments PHSy students stood out. Limited time, coming up with the main idea, and limited resources were the major obstacles for both groups. PHSy students also reported limited knowledge and skills.
Finally, for both groups, more background research and perseverance were the main ways of overcoming obstacles. Students who had not participated in science fair anticipated that doing so would be much more difficult than was actually experienced by students who had participated.
Whether the PHSn students actually knew of such behaviors by science fair participants or were just guessing also is a question for future studies. In any case, the finding that so many students anticipate research misconduct will be associated with science fair suggests that integrating some discussion of responsible conduct of science might be valuable at the high school level.
Finally, we observed no gender differences in student answers in our surveys regarding science fair experiences and expectations. This finding is consistent with other studies demonstrating the ongoing increased involvement of girls in science fair and equivalent success rates of girls and boys [ 26 , 27 ].
Of course, you need the proper citation and the main ideas for your research. Also, discuss the reasons for your limitations, if there were any to your study. For instance, many experiments have time constraints or sample size limits. Remember to offer your readers a critical overview of your findings from a comprehensive point of view in the discussion section of a research paper. Barbara earned a B. Besides working as a chemist for the pharmaceutical and water industry, she pursued her degree in secondary science teaching.
Barbara now writes and researches educational content for blogs and higher-ed sites. College Life. College Admissions. Planning for College. College Rankings.
Social Studies. Tip When writing a discussion in science, organize the section with the analysis of findings, current literature sources and limitations to your study.