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!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Why is there a need for CABS? Not many high schools have students doing original research

The most prestigious high school science competition in the United States is the Science Talent Search, presently sponsored by the Intel Corporation, and beginning next year by Regeneron. The Society for Science and the Public runs the contest. The way a senior in high school may enter this contest is by writing a paper describing science research the student has completed. There will be a top prize of $250,000 in scholarships given to a high school student - this is not for a typical science fair project, which may have been done numerous times and recycled from year to year. But rather for original research where the student made a legitimate discovery, as if the student were a graduate student working on a doctoral project.

This is where the problem lies.

Many high schools, and even middle schools and some elementary schools, run local science fairs. These are wonderful events where many students can do bigger projects than what is possible in a typical period of a science class. Students learn to take a question and investigate it through experimentation, and then analyze some data and draw conclusions based on those data. Great stuff! But the vast majority of these projects are things that have known answers and, if a student did want to submit to some of the bigger science contests, they would not likely make headway because of a lack of impact on a scientific field.

What this CABS site attempts is to provide the means of curious students and their teachers to get research project and question ideas that can lead to original results and discoveries. Such results could be written up for competitions, and/or might lead to a publication.

Some numbers:
In the 2016 Science Talent Search (STS), students from only 512 high schools from 43 states submitted papers. For those of us who have been involved and followed the STS over some number of years, most of the schools are annual repeaters. These schools have established research programs, which most often means there is a university and/or research center in the area where the students carry out their research projects. In other words, the vast majority of these papers describe research done in professional labs.

I searched how many high schools exist in the U.S., and while the exact number is not known or published, there seems to be on order of over 30,000 public and private high schools! Only 512 submitted original papers. So, only about 1.7% of high schools entered the STS, and gave their students a chance to be recognized at a national level, and possibly earn scholarship money for their work. Over 98% of students do not apparently have access to the STS, which means they do not know about the contest, or do not have the means of doing original work.

The point of all this is not to just get students trying contests. But this provides one measure of the lack of real research being done or being available to high school students. I suspect there are countless numbers of curious STEM students in the country who would, if a possibility arose, jump at the chance to do research and see if a new discovery is waiting in the wings.

This is to provide opportunities for any student to try the science process, learn a ton, push themselves through the frustrations and joys of research, and have that chance of the 'Eureka!' moment.

This CABS site is an attempt to provide the means for those students to take on a project of interest, where the answer is a true unknown at the moment!! And if seniors want to try and submit to the STS or other contests, they can and have a competitive project.