Scientific Investigations - Primary Students
This category of the STANSW Young Scientist Awards provides a framework for students to develop their skills in a scientific investigation.
Primary students are encouraged to submit projects which demonstrate that they have conducted an original scientific investigation with the specific aim that tests a well-informed hypothesis using a method that incorporates fair testing. A good project will also include an analysis of the results and a discussion that demonstrates an understanding of the scientific concepts that underlie the topic being investigated.
All Scientific Investigation entries need to include a formal report and a logbook. Students may include other documents as well that are instrumental to their projects such as data folders, videos and survey sheets.
The formal report is the final write-up of the investigation encompassing all the different stages of the scientific method. There is no formal requirement for the structure of the report but it should cover all of the following aspects of the investigation:
- Questioning - An introduction to the topic of the investigation and state a clear and precise Aim.
- Predicting Background Research and Hypothesis (Prediction)
- Planning Investigations Equipment and Planning a Fair Test
- Conducting Investigations Method
- Recording Data Results
- Patterns and Trends Data Analysis
- Communication Discussion and Conclusion
The logbook is an important and integral part of carrying out a scientific investigation. Just like working scientists must keep accurate lab books, the logbook is a diary of what has been done during the investigation and should document all stages of the project with regular dated entries. Judges use the logbook to understand what students were thinking, what they were trying to achieve and how they went about it.
A log book can be hand-written in an exercise book or lab book or digital (e.g., using a google doc) but must be converted to PDF for submission. The file should be edited to remove any identifying features including the name of students, schools, and teachers. Very young entrants can ask an adult to scribe or annotate their logbook (don’t forget to note this in the acknowledgments section!).
Students should make a dated entry every time they work on their project, and include brief progress notes and all raw data.
Other things that could be included in the log book include:
- Plans, ideas, and description of why a topic was chosen
- Notes on background research
- Drawings, illustrations, and photographs of work in progress
- Raw data and details of the analysis
Remember the best projects have the best logbooks – it is not an after-thought.
For more information on how projects are judged, see the judging rubrics