WHY? Why would you engage your students in the challenges of applied project work? 1. It is a highly motivating and effective method of applying the science processes. <ul><li>It is a highly motivating and effective method of </li></ul><ul><li>applying the skills of science. </li></ul>3. It is a highly motivating and effective method of increasing student knowledge through research and application of knowledge. Positive experiences with applied projects has been a motivating factor for students to both stay involved with science in subsequent years of study as well as in selecting science-related careers.
WHY? Why would you engage your students in the challenges of applied project work? There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence that positive experiences with applied project work has the result of higher academic achievement. There is a huge body of anecdotal evidence that positive experiences have had a significant effect on students’ attitude and levels of commitment to academic study. When you and your students are ready, there are very significant scholarship and prize awards at Regional Science Fairs. The scientific and personal development that accompanies Science Fair success is not lost on industry or on universities, many now strongly support science fairs.
What are we talking about – What do the students do? In its basic form, students complete a project (experiment, innovation, study); there is a written and visually displayed description and explanation; there is a log book of procedures and data; students present the project orally. How do we assess and evaluate all this? There are Criterion Referenced Rubrics and Judging Forms available to assist you. In the end, you will still assess the students’ achievement on this project based on established criteria as set out in the IRPs.
What to consider before you begin independent project work: <ul><li>Your students – are they ready? Have you sufficiently prepared them for the experience? </li></ul><ul><li>Safety – always be the one who approves a project, do not settle for “it’s about….” Insist on the details. </li></ul><ul><li>Approval – each school has their own particular style of management and organization (school culture) even for in-class activities. However, if this is going to become a public exhibit as in a science showcase or science fair, seek approval first. </li></ul>Time – allow class time for the project to be initiated and developed. These important first steps ensure it is a student vs. a parent or a community project. Processes – ensure your students are familiar with the processes of science and what each looks like operationally.
How To Prepare Your Students For Applied Project Work You may pause following a prescribed activity or “experiment” and challenge students to “redesign” an experiment using their own approach. For your first experience, you may ask everyone to focus on a designated “theme” or specific topic. You may take a current unit and pause to have students develop a unique question or problem as a unit ending activity. Have each student (or student pair, if you wish) devise a question/problem of their choosing and develop an experimental approach to solving it. Without these “diversion” experiences, neither you nor your students may be prepared for a full independent applied project experience. Often working in teams of three or four is a good way to develop this independent thinking.
Developing Passion As the school year unfolds, continue to challenge students to think independently. Allow them some time to devise short term experiments that are related to the science topics you are teaching. If this is as far as you go on your journey toward independent project work or toward a science fair, you will have given your students an intriguing and hopefully exciting taste real science. You may ignite a passion that will drive them forward in their pursuit of answers to their own questions.
What else is there? Learning all you can about a topic, planning and completing a project, creating an attractive project display and preparing an oral presentation to both explain and “sell” the project to others is an exciting process that can be significant for many students. Presenting the project to peers and perhaps judges and the public can be an experience unattainable in other academic pursuits and only comparable to athletic or artistic performances. It is not uncommon that such a project results in a student’s highest science term mark. Science Fairs can positively change the lives of students. Those of us involved at the Regional level have seen this often.
<ul><li>The Usual Categories Are: experiment, engineering/invention, study or mathematical proof. </li></ul><ul><li>This is most often an experiment that must follow the steps of the </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific Method </li></ul><ul><li>- perhaps chemistry or organic chemistry </li></ul><ul><li>- perhaps biology </li></ul><ul><li>- perhaps physics. </li></ul><ul><li>It could also be an engineering project where the physics and mathematics are applied to testing attributes of the project device such as an invention. </li></ul><ul><li>It could be a “study” of an existing thing using observations and various testing to determine an answer to a self-proposed question </li></ul><ul><li>[note: this is not a “report”]. </li></ul><ul><li>It could be a computer coded program designed to accomplish a task or assist in a procedure. Recently computer models of real and theoretical structures have been created. </li></ul><ul><li>It could be a mathematical proof with a theoretical application. </li></ul><ul><li>The full list of “official” project categories currently in use can be found at </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.ysf-fsj.ca/files/PDF/governance/policy/en/22.214.171.124_project_classification.pdf </li></ul>
Youth Science Foundation Canada EXPERIMENT INNOVATION STUDY Undertake an investigation to test a scientific hypothesis by the experimental method. At least one independent variable is manipulated; other variables are controlled. Develop and evaluate new devices, models, theorems, physical theories, techniques, or methods in technology, engineering, computing, natural science, or social science. Analysis of, and possibly collections of, data using accepted methodologies from the natural, social, biological, or health sciences. Includes studies involving human subjects, biology field studies, data mining, observation and pattern recognition in physical and/or socio-behavioural data.
ETHICS For the safety of the students, and to ensure appropriate ethical procedures are followed, projects should ALL be approved before students proceed. Be especially vigilant on projects that involve living tissue or organisms. Generally only studies are allowed to investigate vertebrates, otherwise they are not to be used. Studies with invertebrates must be considered carefully. When a project is to be potentially entered into a District or Regional competitive Fair which follows the rules of Youth Science Foundation Canada, all projects where there is a question of ethics must be preapproved by a national judging committee. This came about through some unfortunate projects.
Where to start? First determine what are your goals. You are and remain the teacher throughout the exercise. Do you want the project to be an outgrowth of one of your science units? - If so restrict projects to this area. Do you want the project to deal with a specific science principle? - If so restrict projects to this background topic. Do you want the project to be in a skill/topic area: experimentation, mathematical proof, engineering/invention or a study? - If so, direct the students accordingly. Do you want to have your students experience the excitement, challenge and passion of pursuing their own questions in a manner they create? - If so, you are ready for a full science fair experience. In reality ALL science fair processes involve all of the above, depending on your readiness and comfort level and the readiness, experience and ability of the students. You are the teacher – you decide.
Where do the topics come from? <ul><li>This will depend on the directions you give your students. </li></ul><ul><li>Further to that: </li></ul><ul><li>The text or student resource book will have many activities and “experiments”. Your students can use that as a base and modify it to create a “unique” experiment. </li></ul><ul><li>If you want your students to select an area of interest and proceed with duplicating a project that has been done before, there are thousands of sources of science fair topics on the Internet. </li></ul><ul><li>If your students are ready for the competitive world of District or Regional Science Fairs, they will need to take an approach or investigate a topic that is unique and has positive applications for science and for society. This takes creativity, near mastery of the basics of science and will require commitment and passion. This often takes research to find a topic of interest and a unique approach to a problem. </li></ul>
<ul><li>What is the teacher’s role in preparing students for these applied projects? </li></ul><ul><li>1. Ensure students know the steps of Scientific Method. </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure students know the process of designing an experiment (and/or how to approach a mathematical proof and/or how to conduct physical tests on materials and structures) . </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure students have experienced describing scientific responses to small groups (often a student will “disappear” in a classroom and not speak). </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure students know how to conduct research both in your library and on the Internet. </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure students know what good graphic art display is. </li></ul>
What is the role of the teacher in starting applied science projects? Introduce the project as a classroom experience. Do NOT say, “This is science fair month! Scramble!” Build up to the final activity by asking students for a topic area. This could be one you assign or one they choose. Expect students to do some research. What are the science principles involved? What do they mean? Who discovered them? What are the key concepts? How were they developed? What are key vocabulary words? Define them. What else has been done on this topic? What were the variables? Procedure? What materials & equipment would be involved? Allow students to “experiment with the experiment”. All too often, students conduct an experiment with unfamiliar materials and equipment. Give them a chance to discover the properties of equipment before the experiment. Keep the focus academic, try and keep the excitement threshold low.
What is the role of the teacher during project selection? <ul><li>Communicate with all students over their proposed projects. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask for a brief written summary – nothing in depth. Identify dependent and independent variables. </li></ul><ul><li>Respond to the proposal with either suggestions on modification or change. This is where the teacher will have his or her greatest impact on the project development. </li></ul><ul><li>Expect a more detailed proposal now that it is approved. Ensure ethical issues are dealt with. Ensure materials are safe. Ensure equipment is available. Have them suggest sources of error and try and mitigate their effect. </li></ul><ul><li>Expect the theoretical background research to be completed either before or at least soon after the hands-on component begins. </li></ul><ul><li>Assist in material/equipment sourcing. </li></ul>
What is the role of the teacher during the hands-on component? <ul><li>Supervise the set up of the projects. </li></ul><ul><li>Suggest students consider different aspects. </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge students to consider different approaches. </li></ul><ul><li>Assist students in changing methods. </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge students to identify and possibly control error factors. </li></ul><ul><li>As the project process moves forward, begin to focus on the handling of the data. </li></ul><ul><li>Assist students in applying appropriate statistical analysis methods. </li></ul>
How to assist in ensuring projects are suitably challenging for the student and utilize good procedures. <ul><li>Expect it. Encourage it. Demand it. Challenge for it. </li></ul><ul><li>Resist mediocrity. </li></ul>2. Prepare your students for excellence in every activity they engage in throughout the school year, beginning with the very first. 3. Be specific in your constructive criticism and identify specific elements that can be changed. 4. “Walk the students through the processes.” That is, challenge them to move the project to a higher level of science process and application. If necessary, continue this until they have either reached their level of understanding or they have achieved excellence.
How is it packaged and presented? The log book should not be “redone”. It should be presented as it was used. [If part of the lesson is to take care to use the log book well, it is an important lesson learned.] Use the Scientific Method write up methodology you have introduced in the classroom as the basic description of the project. Ensure students describe the hypothesis as both a prediction and an opportunity to suggest what may be involved if X happens. Ensure students phrase their conclusion as a response to the hypothesis. The background information should be submitted in a binder. It should follow appropriate procedures for any academic report, including appropriate reference styles. The display board should summarize the project. It need not have all the details, but should highlight the key elements of the project.
Oral Presentation – in this most stories are told! Sometimes seen as the simplest of the project tasks, this is from where both the best and the worst of project stories come. Beware. Unless your students have gone through a process of public speaking and confidence building through oral presentations, please do not have them speak to the class for their first presentation! Regardless of their grade level, have the students give their presentation to a small group of peers, six to eight. Move around the room, listen to their presentation “style”. First, before the project is presented to any students, you have approved the project design, you have approved the materials, you have supervised the project, you have challenged the students to reach excellence. You have received the written summaries and have read them. In short, you know about as much of this project as do your students. Give an opportunity for all students to move about the room and engage each other over their projects in an organized manner. If there is still a desire to have students speak to the whole class, use a process of selection after the two methods above have occurred.
How do you evaluate individual projects? <ul><li>It is generally accepted that this ratio be used to weight the elements of a project: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientific thought - 45% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Original creativity - 25% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project report & log - 14% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Oral presentation - 8% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Visual display - 8% </li></ul></ul>The Vancouver District Science Fair uses a Criterion Referenced method guided by a set of Rubrics to evaluate the students and their projects. These are included in an appendix to this presentation. In the end, as in most project work, the teacher will have to make a decision that borders on or is subjective. Given assistance with the quality through the attached Rubrics, ask this question: how does the project compare to the processes, skills, knowledge expected for a student of this grade according to the IRP. Often students will surprise you.
YSF Canada – Canada-Wide Science Fair Judging Rubric Scientific Thought (45%) EXPERIMENT INNOVATION STUDY Level 1 (Low) Mark Range 6-15 Replicate a known experiment to confirm previous findings. Build a model or device to duplicate existing technology or to demonstrate a well-known physical theory or social/behavioural intervention. Existing published material is presented, unaccompanied by any analysis. Level 2 (Fair) Mark Range 16-25 Extend a known experiment with modest improvements to the procedures, data gathering and possible applications. Improve or demonstrate new applications for existing technological systems, social or behavioural interventions, existing physical theories or equipment, and justify them. Existing published material is presented, accompanied by some modest analysis and/or a rudimentary study is undertaken that yields limited data that cannot support an analysis leading to meaningful results.
YSF Canada – Canada-Wide Science Fair Judging Rubric Scientific Thought (45%) EXPERIMENT INNOVATION STUDY Level 3 (Good) Mark Range 26-35 Devise and carry out an original experiment. Identify the significant variables and attempt to control them. Analyze the results using appropriate arithmetic, graphical or statistical methods. Design and build innovative technology; or provide adaptations to existing technology or to social or behavioural interventions; extend or create new physical theory. Human benefit, advancement of knowledge, and/or economic applications should be evident. The study is based on systematic observations and a literature search. Quantitative studies should include appropriate analysis of some significant variable(s) using arithmetic, statistical, or graphical methods. Qualitative and/or mixed methods studies should include a detailed description of the procedures and/or techniques applied to gather and/or analyze the data (e.g. interviewing, observational fieldwork, constant comparative method, content analysis).
Level 4 (Excellent) Mark Range 36-45 YSF Canada Judging Rubric Devise and carry out original experimental research in which most significant variables are identified and controlled. The data analysis is thorough and complete. Integrate several technologies, inventions, social/behavioural interventions or design and construct an innovative application that will have human and/or commercial benefit. The study correlates information from a variety of peer-reviewed publications and from systematic observations, and reveals significant new information, or original solutions to problems. Same criteria for analysis of significant variables and/or description of procedures/techniques as for Level 3. Original Creativity 25% YSF Canada Judging Rubric Low (6-10) Fair (11-15) Good (16-20) Excellent (21-25) The project design is simple with little evidence of student imagination. It can be found in books or magazines. The project design is simple with some evidence of student imagination. It uses common resources or equipment. The topic is a current or common one. This imaginative project makes creative use of the available resources. It is well thought out, and some aspects are above average. This highly original project demonstrates a novel approach. It shows resourcefulness and creativity in the design, use of equipment, construction and/or the analysis.
YSF Canada Judging Rubric For Canada-Wide Science Fair Judging Visual Display 8% Logical, Self-Explanatory 1 2 3 4 5 Exhibit attractive, well constructed 1 2 3 Oral Presentation 8% Clear, logical, enthusiastic 1 2 3 4 5 Response to questions 1 2 3 Project report & log 14% Information content / substance 1 2 3 4 Readability / clarity 1 2 3 Bibliography and citations 1 2 3 Project log (hard copy or electronic) 1 2 3 4 Project Evaluation Summary Scientific Thought Max 45 Mark= Original Creativity Max 25 Mark= Visual Display Max 8 Mark= Oral Presentation Max 8 Mark= Project report & log Max 14 Mark= TOTAL MARK AWARDED TO THIS PROJECT /100
Scientific Thought: Experimentation Consider each of these three a separate rubric. Score each uniquely. Created for the Vancouver District Science Fair by Len Reimer & Joanne Melville based on judging criteria of Youth Science Foundation Canada for the Canada-Wide Science Fair. Revised 2008. Level Rigor Quality of Task Inspiration 1 More care needed in experiment design. More skill needed in use of procedures. Precision is low. Duplication of known experiment. Variables not identified or controlled. Duplication of known experiment. OR poorly designed experiment. 2 Acceptable experiment design. Shows some skill in procedures. Extension of a known experiment with modification of procedures. Apparently original experiment using standard process procedures. Level of skill is marginal or at a beginners level. 3 Use of material and apparatus appropriate to age. Careful collection of data. Shows skill and precision. Original experiment with some variables identified & controlled. Analysis of data includes graphs and simple statistical analysis. Original experiment using standard procedures. Carefully conducted. Results are precise. 4 Experiment conducted carefully. Results appear to be precise. Skill demonstrated in data collection. Original experiment with most variables identified and controlled. Analysis includes statistical analysis. Original experiment using standard processes and procedures. Demonstrates some creativity in design or use of equipment. 5 Demonstrates skill in use of equipment. Experimental error is identified and analyzed. All apparent variables identified and controlled. Statistical analysis performed. Good procedural techniques. Original experiment using standard processes and procedures. Exceptional creativity in design or use of equipment. 6 Data is precise and collection is skillful. Experimental error is identified and analyzed. Few procedural suggestions. An outstanding experiment for the grade level. Original experiment. Hypothesis well developed. Variables controlled and identified. Statistical analysis of data. New information gathered. Unique approach or design that leads to results that are unique or significantly different from those a standard approach would yield.
Display: Scientific Communication & Graphic Arts Created for the Vancouver District Science Fair by Len Reimer & Joanne Melville based on judging criteria of Youth Science Foundation Canada for the Canada-Wide Science Fair. Revised 2008. Level This category includes display board and table presentation. 1 Display sufficient for the purpose of presentation but there are obvious and significant areas not addressed. Display and display board sufficient to communicate project but with obvious areas for improvement in construction, design or display. 2 Display communicates the basis of the project information with some flaws in scientific thought evident. Design and display can be considered adequate yet basic (may be attractive, but in a functional sense). 3 Display attractively organized. Display exhibits a good attempt at use of space. The project’s area of science is well documented and communicated. 4 The eyes of a casual viewer are attracted to this display. Display communicates the project’s area of science well. Lettering, illustrations and statistical displays are crisp and well presented. The layout of the material leads an observer through the project with the key points clearly communicated. 5 Display draws the observer to it, is attractive and very carefully assembled. This display has a quality of excellence to it. Any table materials neat and well positioned. Display complements the project and has information necessary for an understanding of project intent, process and conclusion. There is a flow to the display that lets the observer gather information on the project in a sequential manner. The key elements of the project are apparent without an oral explanation. 6 Display has a “riveting effect” on the observer. All basic key elements of the project have been addressed in a way that the reader knows the intent or hypothesis, method and result (without necessarily knowing the details of each). There is a flow to the visual presentation. This display has a quality of excellence and artistry in design, construction or artistic display.
Oral Presentation: Scientific Communication & Dramatic Persuasion Created for the Vancouver District Science Fair by Len Reimer & Joanne Melville based on judging criteria of Youth Science Foundation Canada for the Canada-Wide Science Fair. Revised 2008. Level This category includes practiced presentation plus interactions during questioning. 1 Some flaws in scientific thought and / or basic concepts evident. It is uncertain that presenter has understood his or her own project. Uninspired manner (perhaps no enthusiasm, sitting down unnecessarily, lack of preparation). 2 Communicates both the basic project information to the listener and evidence that the participant understands the basic concepts and processes. Lack of enthusiasm evident (tone of voice, sitting down unnecessarily) or rote presentation without ownership. 3 Able to explain project milestones, intent and conclusion with ownership. Presentation delivered with an air of interest, flows smoothly. Presentation delivered with an air of interest, flows smoothly. Focus on project, not on interaction. 4 Above + sufficient detail to clearly explain the intent, methods, procedure, challenges and results. Presentation delivered with an air of interest and flows smoothly. There is an attempt to interact with or involve the listener. 5 The presenter has identified the key elements of the project and of the area of science relevant to the project. The presenter presents smoothly with enthusiasm. The presenter interacts with or involves the listener. In follow up questioning, the presenter demonstrates knowledge of the project to a degree that his, her or their responses support the scientific thought of the project or support the scientific process by delineating possible causes of error or need for further investigation. This presentation has a purposeful or dramatic flair. 6 Presentation fully explains the project including details that highlight precision and rigor of process. The presenter(s) understand and highlight the key elements and details of the project and of the area of science relevant to the project. It is presented to a level that the evaluator’s questions can focus on advanced understanding of concepts, process and application. The presenter is confident in his, her or their knowledge and skills. This practiced presentation can be considered educational entertainment as it is delivered flawlessly with confidence, considerable enthusiasm and with continual interaction with or involvement of the listener.
The judging form of the Youth Science Foundation Canada used at the Canada-Wide Science Fair can be found at http://www.ysf-fsj.ca/files/PDF/documents/judging/CWSF_Judging_Form-08_EN.pdf Other governance policies can be found at: http://www.ysf-fsj.ca/Members/pdirectory3.aspx
Parents <ul><li>Parents usually get involved with their child’s project for two reasons: </li></ul><ul><li>It is a project they can get involved with that they have a level of understanding. There can be positive benefits from having home support for academic projects … if the support stays at home. </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes parents get involved because their child does not know what to do, how to do it and where to go for help. </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare your students well, select and begin the project in class, take ownership of the process and parents will be supporters, not the author of the project. </li></ul>
Mentorship Mentors often work in industry or university labs and are willing to provide time and sometimes lab time and support to pre-university students. If: - a student has considerable academic ability and well developed science skills; and - an idea that is viable and worth pursuing; but - the school does not have the resources and you do not have sufficient understanding of the required science to adequately supervise, Then a student can petition to have a mentor assigned. The mentor often will provide the facilities, lab time and feedback support. Mentors are applied for and aligned through the BC Science Fair Foundation http://www.sciencefairs.bc.ca
Competition Students in Grades 7 to 12 are eligible to enter a competitive Regional Science Fair in their area (students must be 12 or older). Regional Science Fairs are aligned with YSF Canada and are the only conduit to the national fair, the Canada-Wide Science Fair. This may be the largest academic event in Canada, annually accepting about 500 students to attend the Fair which is held in a different Canadian city each year. Students attend for just over a week, all expenses paid. In 2008 nearly $1,000,000 in cash, scholarships and prizes were awarded to selected participants at the Canada-Wide. Many students had their undergraduate programs paid for by scholarships from the Fair. Many awards are also allocated at the various Regional Science Fairs. If you and your students are ready, it is an exciting, challenging and potentially rewarding event.
For More Information Youth Science Foundation Canada http://ysf.ca YSF Policies are found at http://www.ysf-fsj.ca/Members/pdirectory3.aspx SMARTS An Organization of Peer Science Student Support In Canada http://ysf.ca/SMARTS B.C. Science Fair Foundation http://www.sciencefairs.bc.ca Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair http://www.gvrsf.ca CWSF 2005 Vancouver See display boards by selecting “Projects” http://www.cwsf2005.ca/CWSF2005vJLL30/English/home.htm The Internet has many other sources of science fair ideas.