There may be a number of high school students out there who believe "science research" is what you do in typical science class lab activities. Perhaps you time how long it takes for a marble to roll across a table to determine its speed, or you put together certain mixtures of chemicals to produce specific types of chemical reactions and observe phase and color changes, or do dissections of earthworms to see with you own eyes how the organism is put together. All of these types of labs are important for learning about experimental procedures and methods, how to collect and record data, working on basic analysis methods of data, and so on. And at the time these activities may be new to you, the student, so that you are 'discovering' some phenomenon in the activity, and that is great!
But what this site is all about is a different type of discovery - a discovery in the stricter sense of the word. In science class, you will do things where the answers have been discovered years ago and are well known and are part of the course curriculum. Here, we want you to be able to find topics and ideas and questions that are truly unknown to the world.
We want you to be able to create your own research project where you may literally make a new discovery for whatever system in which you are interested!
This is the science research we are concerned about with this site.
Now, the big misconception is that one needs million dollar equipment and a professional laboratory to literally discover something new. It turns out you do not - there are countless systems and phenomena that are out there we can investigate with simple tools and equipment, that your school likely has or can obtain, and you can design and setup your own experimental apparatus in your school lab or even in your home, perhaps in your bedroom or basement! Or, there are theoretical simulations or calculations that can be done on your computer that investigate some system never before studied! Or perhaps you access online data sets and databases more and more professional experiments collect, and do new analytical studies of those data, making never-seen-before discoveries!
All of the ideas you find on this website are of those types - new, original results and findings await us all, you just have to go for it and use the process of science to make those discoveries from the data you collect.
What are the Big 3 of Science Research?
Most people think of the scientific method taught in middle school and high school classes when it comes to the process of science. And hopefully this means most people realize that the key to science is experimentation. Scientists don't believe things just because we think some idea sounds like it should be correct - instead, we need to obtain physical evidence and observations that the idea could be the correct description of Nature. Ultimately physical experiments are needed to lead to scientific advancement.
But the two other pieces in the above diagram are part of the modern scientific process. Albert Einstein was a theorist. He did not do physical experiments, but instead thought about some experiments others had done, and tried to develop mathematical relationships that best described those experiments. And then he went on to other derivations and consequences of some basic ideas, leading to more complex theories such as general relativity and parts of quantum mechanics. What is valuable about mathematical theories is that those can lead to predictions about what should happen in Nature under a set of conditions. Then, experiments might be set up to test those predictions. Theories can guide experimentalists, and the results from experiments can guide theorists as they tweak or change theories to match new experimental results. These two aspects of research worked hand in hand for centuries.
But then computers were developed in the mid-twentieth century. This opened the door to writing programs with theoretical mathematical models in those programs so they can be run in simulations. Computer simulations can do calculations that are impossible to do with pencil and paper, and allow scientists to explore systems and situations that cannot be physically tested. They allow for theoretical predictions that may be tested physically. It takes what Einstein was able to do and put it on steroids. Computer simulations allow for new presentations of data using computer graphics. It allows, using supercomputing technology, for tests and simulations of unbelievably complex systems and phenomena, such as galaxy formation, the inner workings of an atomic nucleus, global climate evolution, quantum chemistry, and the spread of disease through a population, and electrochemical processes in the neural network of the brain. These are things that are incredibly hard to measure, and in some cases physically impossible to test with direct measurements. But with mathematical models and theories that have reliability and accuracy, simulations of those models and theories allow for computer experiments where parameter values can be changed to see what should happen under those conditions.
You will have options for all three areas of science research that are original projects. Check them out, find something that is of interest to you and that you are willing to spend a longer period of time working on, and have fun learning about and hopefully discovering what Nature does with the topic of interest.
We hope to provide you the ideas and some resources to begin working on such projects with this CABS site!