St. John School Science & Engineering Inquiry Project
Project Guidelines for Students & Families
Dear 7th and 8th graders and families:
The Saint John School Science and Engineering Inquiry Project will be due, on an ongoing basis, in March and April of 2022. The science and engineering practices required to complete this project are vital elements of the national science standards (NGSS); therefore, all 7th and 8th graders are expected to complete this project. It may seem to be an intimidating assignment at first, but if you create a project that’s interesting to you, and stay on schedule and don’t put things off, it can be both manageable and rewarding.
Your job for this project is to provide a detailed record of a science or engineering project that you will design and carry out on your own.
- If you are a 7th grader, I ask that you focus strictly on a science project: think of a question you have about the natural world around you, develop a hypothesis that answers your question, and design and carry out an experiment that controls variables, makes measurable (quantitative) observations, and lets you know if your hypothesis is correct.
- If you are an 8th grader, you may either do a strict science project as described above, or an engineering project: Identify a need or a problem that can be addressed by creating a new product or process, identify possible solutions to the problem, pick the best solution, test your solution, make improvements to your solution, and test them again (use the engineering design process).
What You Need to Produce:
On the day of your in-class presentation, you need to have the following things available for viewing:
- A complete lab report ( a formal, detailed record of what you did and what you discovered);
- A display board, slide presentation, or other presentation tool (like the lab report, only less detailed and more visually oriented);
- Apparatus (the equipment/materials you used or created to complete your project).
Lab Report Requirements:
All lab reports, for both science and engineering projects, need to have a title page that includes:
- Your name
- The title of your project
- The date
- Your home room
- The LO and SLE
- A relevant picture
Content of Science Project Lab Reports:
If you’re doing a science project, your lab report needs to include:
- The problem/inquiry question
- A statement of your interest in the project and why it’s relevant to others’ needs or interests
- Hypothesis (prediction)
- Materials list
- Procedure- detailed, step by step description of how you carried out your experiment
- Data- need to be quantitative, and shared in both table and graph form
- Results- a written summary of your findings, based on the data you collected
- Conclusion- a discussion of what your results mean, whether or not your hypothesis was correct, why you think you got these results (inferences), and possible other outcomes or solutions
Content of Engineering Project Lab Reports:
If you’re doing an engineering project, your lab report needs to include:
- Your problem or objective
- Statement of your interest in the project and why it’s relevant to others’ needs
- A discussion of at least two (preferably more) alternative solutions to your problem, which includes discussion of the constraints (limitations) and advantages of each alternative
- Identification of the best option, and justification (evidence) for your selection of that option
- Materials list
- Description of prototype design (or solution) and testing procedure
- Data from tests of both initial prototype and final designs (quantitative, in both table and graph form)
- Description of modifications of original design (after first round of tests)
- Final evaluation of your design (or solution)
Visual Elements and Presentation:
In addition to submitting a lab report, you will need to present your findings to me (Mr. Tice) and your classmates. You can use any visual format you wish, but these visual elements must contain the same information as your lab report (in somewhat shortened form), it must be of very high quality, it must be clear and it must be between 10-15 minutes in length.
- Neatness and organization are important here.
- The title should give some clue as to what the topic of your project is.
- Make the presentation as visually appealing as you can (photos are encouraged), but don’t make it so “busy” that it distracts from the content.
- The presentation, particularly the visual elements, are not the whole project; keep its importance in perspective.
- Print text in a font large enough to be easily read from a distance of 1.5- 4m.
- If you create a tri-fold board, all printed items need to be bordered with construction paper or colored printer paper.
- There are 54 students in your class, and the schedule is tight. All presentations must be submitted on time, according to the presentation schedule. If you are late, there is a 20% per day penalty.
- Be prepared to answer questions.
In addition to the actual inquiry project, you are expected to complete a 3-5 page research paper that provides useful background information related to your topic. Requirements for this project include:
- It must be 3-5 pages, typed, double spaced, font size no larger than 12
- Include a title page and bibliography in APA style (I’ll show you how this works)
- Include at least three credible sources (use library databases, not a random Google search!)
- Include internal documentation (again, I’ll show this to you well ahead of time)
More information about the research paper will be provided after we get into the project more deeply.
- You will work individually on this project.
- You may work with animals if you wish, but I do not recommend it. If you do choose to work with animals, you are expected to treat the animals ethically (i.e., you may not cause them harm them before, during or after you complete your presentation).
- You need approval from me before you begin any project. (I’m actually kind of picky about what sorts of project ideas are appropriate).
- Do not spend more money than absolutely necessary.
- Make every effort to do original work. Original work virtually always results in a better grade. (Some students get desperate and just find something on a website, and that works in an emergency, but in most cases this doesn’t impress me nearly as much as doing something on your own.)
- This is not your parents’ assignment. I expect everything not involving power tools or flammable materials to be completed by you.
November 2: Proposal for your project due, written in a short 3-7 sentence paragraph (This is actually the hardest part of the whole project. Do not put this one off until the last possible moment.)
November 16: Problem or Objective due, written (typed) in the form of a question. Include your statement of interest/rationale at this time. Save this document; it will become part of your final lab report, and will help you in creating your presentation of your findings.
January 11: Research paper due
January 29: Problem, statement of interest and hypothesis due (science projects) or Objective, statement of interest, and list of alternative solutions (three or more) due (engineering projects)
February 2: Proposal for best solution (with rationale) due (engineering projects only)
February 8: Problem, statement of interest, hypothesis, materials list independent variable, dependent variable, 5 controls, and procedure due (science projects); Objective, statement of interest, list of alternative solutions, proposal for best solution, materials list, prototype design and testing procedure due (engineering projects)
March 9: Oral report of progress due If, at any time you’d like me to check over what you’ve done so far, I’m very happy to do it.
March 15: First presentation. One presentation to be made every school day from this date forward.
Science Project Evaluation
Name: __________________________________________ #___________________ Title of Project: _______________________________________________________ Scores: Each item below has a maximum score of ten points unless otherwise noted.
___ The presentation and display suggest that time and effort were spent in their creation
___ The presentation clearly discusses the project’s problem, a statement of interest, hypothesis, materials, procedure, data, results, and conclusion
___ The independent variable, dependent variable, and three controlled variables are clearly identified
___ The presentation was clear, organized, and compelling (20 points)
___ The apparatus are appropriately designed and displayed
___ The Student is able to answer questions clearly and convincingly
___ The problem or objective is clearly stated
___ The project’s topic is challenging and original, and represents work done independently by the student (40 points)
___ Reasons are given for student’s interest, and relevance to the community
___ A logical cause-effect hypothesis is clearly stated
___ Materials list is detailed and clear
___ Procedure is logical, easy to follow, and focused on testing stated hypothesis
___ The independent, dependent and controlled variables are clearly identified
___ Data are detailed and complete
___ Tables and graphs are used to present data
___ Results are clear and detailed, and reflect the data given
___ Results show whether the hypothesis was correct or not
___ Conclusions are borne out by data
___ At least one thoughtful inference was drawn (20 points)
___ Other potential outcomes/and or solutions are noted (30 points)
___ A complete title page is included in the lab report
Total Score/300: ________ Grade: _________
Engineering Design Project Evaluation
Name: _______________________________________ # _____________ Title of Project: ______________________________________________ Scores: Each item below has a maximum score of 10 points unless otherwise noted.
Presentation and Display:
__ The presentation and display suggest that time and effort were spent in their creation
__ The presentation clearly communicates the project’s problem/objective, statement of intent, constraints, list of possible alternatives, materials list, prototype design description, data, redesign, and evaluation/conclusion
__ The impacts, pros/cons and constraints of all initial design ideas (2 minimum) are clearly listed
__ The presentation is clear, organized, and compelling (20 points)
__ The apparatus are appropriately designed and displayed
__ The student is able to answer questions clearly and convincingly.
Engineering Project Report:
__ The problem or objective is clearly stated
__ The project is challenging and original, and represents work done independently by the student (40 points)
__ Reasons are given for student’s interest, and for relevance to the community
__ At least two possible alternative solutions to the problem are identified and described.
__Advantages and constraints (limitations) of each alternative solution are described
__ Selection of the chosen alternative is defended/justified (why you made your initial design choice) (20 points)
__ Materials list is detailed and clear
__ Prototype design, and testing of the prototype, are described in detail
__ Data (prototypes and final design) are detailed and complete
__ Tables and graphs are used to present data
__ Evaluation of prototype is complete (strengths, weaknesses, ideas for improvement) (20 points)
__ Redesign, and testing of redesign, are detailed and complete
__ Final evaluation of design is detailed, thoughtful (includes additional alternative solutions), and supported by data (20 points)
__ A complete title page is included in the lab report
Total Score/300: _________________ Grade: _____________
I appreciate that this is a pretty challenging assignment, and that, when faced with the entire project all at once, it seems to students (and their families) to be kind of overwhelming. However, I can assure you that you are fully capable of completing this project very successfully if you remember the following things:
- Do something that is interesting to you personally;
- Challenge yourself, but keep it reasonable;
- Never, ever fall behind in completing the assignments on the timeline (stay on schedule);
- Communicate with me as often as possible about your project. (If you never talk to me about your work, I’ll just assume things are going well.)
I look forward to seeing your projects, and am eager to help!