What is CABS?

This site will help high school students and teachers find original, independent science research topics and questions that can be done without a professional lab...these can be done in a school lab or even in one's basement! The project ideas and research questions being developed and presented here have been vetted and could lead to true discoveries, and not just finding already known results. See our Welcome message. These are the types of projects that could be done and submitted to high school contests such as the Regeneron Science Talent Search, Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, or the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and be competitive. If you have an idea to share, or a question about one of the project ideas, contact us at vondracekm@eths202.org.

Pages (on the right side of the screen) have lists of ideas for different types of science research projects, and clicking on one of those ideas will take you to posts with details and all sorts of information about that type of project. Get more information about why there is a need for CABS!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

If interested in writing up your work - examples of student papers

For those students who take on science research, a key part of the process is to write up results and share with the science community by publishing your work. For high school students, this is entirely possible and should be seriously considered. But there is an issue with technical science writing - most high school students, and many teachers for that matter, do not have extensive, if any, real experience with technical writing along the lines of what a professional would publish in a journal.

Check out good examples of student papers, almost all of which were submitted to science contest at the state or national level (and almost all had some sort of state or national recognition). It is good practice to use others' work as models and guides to understand the style and formatting for this type of writing, especially if you have an interest in submitting to a local science fair or a state or national contest.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Teachers and Students: Try to Publish your basement science work as a class lab!

I want to encourage teachers and students to, when appropriate, publish articles in professional journals as co-authors for some of your 'basement science' research projects. If you have a project that really does use simple, affordable equipment, and it is effective in getting measured or observed results, share it with the broader high school education community. For example, in physics the leading professional journal for high schools is The Physics Teacher (TPT), published from the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). For high school science, The Science Teacher (TST) is the leading general journal put out by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). I'm sure there are other teacher journals out there in other disciplines. The point is, these professional organizations have publications that go out to thousands and tens of thousands of members on a monthly basis, and they are looking to publish creative, doable activities that many other teachers and students may be interested in. These organizations also put on multiple national and regional conferences every year, and those are a chance to share your results and work so others may use it or some variation of what you've done.

Some examples of research project work I have published in TPT and TST are with hydraulic jump, Faraday waves on vibrated droplets, temperature dependence of kinetic friction, and a mechanical system that behaves in a counterintuitive way. Three of these papers were co-written with students, and all were presented in a way that could be used as a classroom lab or inquiry activity, as well as modified to make new, novel research projects. Other students who had professor mentors have published in various journals, as well. Note that it is a rarity for high school students to be published in peer reviewed journals while still in high school. The exposure to your work is much greater than just posting on social media, where thousands of colleagues have access to it rather than perhaps a few dozen who follow you (unless you happen to have thousands of other teachers following you, but that is a rarity).

Publishing with students is great fun because it allows them to actually go through the entire research project, build their professional resume, and learn about the vital role of publication in science. Also, they see firsthand the process of publication, and how one may need to have a back and forth with the editor and anonymous reviewers, over many months time periods, before it is worthy of publication. Give it a try and have fun with it!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Inspirational - Some Professional Scientists who work in areas with little or no resources

There is an article in Nature with interviews with five scientists who work in poor regions of Africa, and who have little or no resources for their research. But, they find a way to do things for the societal good, and this is what we are after on this site!

Be inspired!!

Friday, July 20, 2018

2016 Google Science Fair Grand Prize given for a 'basement science' project!

Use this as inspiration, and this story reflects the whole purpose of this web site:

Teenager Kiara Nirghin of South Africa won the 2016 Google Science Fair top prize for her work in trying to solve a local problem. South Africa was in the midst of a severe drought, and a majority of its people were beginning to feel pressure with food insecurity since crops were dying. Kiara was determined to help solve this problem by inventing a homemade chemical using orange and avocado peels that can hold 300 times its weight in water. By planting this mixture next to growing plants, the plants did significantly better and could survive much longer in the drought conditions.

This is an amazing example of the type of science and discovery one can do without funding, professional labs, and in one's basement!!

It takes identifying something of interest, breaking it down into fundamental pieces - think about what quantities and parameters might affect whatever it is you are interested in - and then create experiments to test how any of those parameters affects the system. Often one can find a local problem that requires a unique and new solution, and teens are fully capable of figuring such problems out!!

Just try it if you are curious about something!! You're likely to amaze yourself!

Citizen Science - A chance for anyone to be involved

Citizen science has become a type of research that has exploded in the past few decade. Because some areas of research are so vast, and have enormous numbers of measurements or data points that need to be looked at, or cover huge areas of physical space, there is no good way for an individual or small team of researchers to make the necessary observations or analyze the 'big data' sets that are collected. The solution - call the calvary! That is, make a bigger research team by getting volunteers, who are non-scientists and non-experts in the field, but who can help get through the data or make additional observations that otherwise would not be possible!

Keep in mind, these projects may give you some spin-off ideas for an individual project you can try, especially those that involve field work. Use these to find inspiration and trigger your own imagination!

Check out Zooniverse to see dozens of research projects that need help from someone just like you! National Geographic has numerous projects. There are many more, too, as listed on this Wikipedia page.


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Engineering/Innovation Idea - "Touch-screen" Walls

For those who have students more into the 'E' of STEM, which is Engineering, here is a project idea they may want to try. In the July, 2018, Scientific American is an article explaining how to change a wall into effectively a touchscreen surface. This can be done for about $200, and could be a good challenge for students. In addition, they can try to rig up a circuit board that can be read out by a computer and try to produce images of objects in the room that can be picked up by the wall.

If this is done successfully, one can begin to have students think of clever applications of the wall. Keep in mind these definitions (my favorites are from creativity guru Sir Ken Robinson, in his book "Out of Our Minds"):
Imagination: process of bringing to mind things that are not present to our senses;
Creativity: process of developing original ideas that have value;
Innovation: process of putting new ideas into practice.

Let students innovate with the wall, and see where it takes them. While this is not necessarily research for new discoveries, this is the type of project that will allow students to become engineers, who take existing science and figure out ways of using it to solve real-world, practical problems. For instance, what if a store had such a wall - what are some ways it could be used by the store employees? Or in a home? In a police station? What about uses of this sort of wall in outdoor settings? Could be a lot of fun trying this!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

NASA announces PubSpace site

NASA just made it easy to find and have access to any peer-reviewed, published research article from any group that had any level of NASA funding. This is called NASA PubSpace, which is housed at PubMed Central (PMC). You can browse all NASA funded papers in PMC, or you can access and search for all PMC articles. Note there are over 4.9 million articles you can access in PMC for the life and medical sciences! WOW!!