Beginning a science research program of any type or size is not necessarily an easy thing to do, but at the same time it is absolutely possible. Even if the teacher does not have a research background, if there is even one motivated, highly curious student who wants to investigate some topic thoroughly, possibly do original work and make a discovery, or simply try to learn if research is something he or she enjoys, any science teacher can help by simply being supportive and trying to help that student find a topic and, most importantly, a specific research question, that is doable with the available resources. If you are new to the research process, it can be helpful to consider the numerous pieces that go into a good research proposal and project.
The main MISconception is that to do original work one must have access to a professional laboratory, usually at a university. This is NOT true! There are hundreds of possible discoveries waiting to be uncovered in projects that involve common equipment and materials, or make use of online datasets and software. This is the point of this website.
Articles for Teachers - Go to this site and find the following articles from various journals:
- From The Science Teacher journal (NSTA) - Creating and Maintaining A High School Research Program (Horton and Vondracek): provides pointers and examples of how a research program for individual students runs at Evanston Township High School, and what goes into a program to sustain it from year to year.
- From The Physics Teacher journal (AAPT) - Computational Research (Vondracek): provides ideas around the concept of computational research, or having students use computer simulations for just about any topic, and an effectively endless number of research questions since an environment and system of interest can be designed. It becomes possible to do studies on the computer, by varying and controlling any number of parameters, that may be physically impossible. Or one can test mathematical models and theories about systems your school may not have the means of testing experimentally.
- From the Journal for Secondary Gifted Education - Working with Gifted Students in a Public School (Ngoi and Vondracek): provides more ideas of options and opportunities teachers have to get their students involved.
- From The Science Teacher (NSTA) - Hydraulic Jump, Finding Complexity in the Seemingly Simple (Vondracek): this outlines an activity any teacher can do to model how to develop a larger number of possible research projects from what appear to be a simple, everyday phenomena. Have students use this example and find something in their world that they are intrigued with and break it down into as many parameters that may have an effect on that system...this could produce numerous research questions and projects, and begin your research program for multiple students!
- Examples of student research papers. Almost all of the dozens of papers on this site have been recognized at a local, state, or national level. Each paper has suggested project ideas at the end of the paper that other students can do, which are almost entirely original ideas for research. These also provide good exemplars and templates for younger students to use as a guide.
- Template for a research report. Go to this site, and click on the Research Report Structure file.
Here are more links. To get other project ideas, the following sites have the projects that were nationally recognized in the two major U.S. science contests for high schools, the Intel Science Talent Search (STS) and the Siemens Science Competition. Note: These are almost all done in professional labs. The reason is most teachers and students around the country do not realize what can be done CABS style!
Intel Science Talent Search (Check out what some top projects were about, get ideas)
2017 Regeneron Finalist Project Descriptions
2017 Regeneron Semifinalist Project Titles
2014 Intel Finalist Project Descriptions
2014 Intel Semifinalist Project Titles
2013 Intel Finalist Project Descriptions
2013 Intel Semifinalist Project Titles
Check out any year of the Science Talent Search (since 1942! Project ideas galore!)
Siemens Science Competition (Check out what some top projects were about, get ideas)
2016 Regional Finalist Abstracts found here
2011 Finalists (see Julia and Patrick!)
Links to past year's winning students and project descriptions
Regeneron Science Talent Search, deadline mid-November
Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)
Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (Loyola's site), deadline late January
Google Science Fair
For summer research programs students may apply to:
Fermilab TARGET Summer Internship (for underrepresented juniors)
IMSA's Mentor Matching Engine (for students in Illinois)
Northwestern CURE Summer Research Program (for underrepresented seniors)
Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (Boston U)
REAP Application at Loyola University at Chicago
Research Science Institute (at MIT)
Rockefeller University's Summer Science Research Program
Secondary Student Training at the U. of Iowa
Stanford Institutes of Medical Summer Research Program
Summer Science Program (run by Caltech)
Zoouniverse - Site of 33 'People Powered' online projects
One other suggestion. If you do want to start a more robust research program, and have any sort of college or university near enough for students as well as for you to make connections and have other experts with whom you can get ideas or access to equipment or projects, check out the faculty lists in STEM departments. Check out the research areas professors are working in, and see if there is anything that is of interest. Most professors are very willing to help, or have others in their research groups answer questions or help high school teachers with their plans.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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!