Science Fair - The Research

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SWBAT to use graphic organizers to help them organize their research in preparation for writing their research report for science fair

Big Idea

I have all of these notes, now what do I do?

The Need for the Lesson

Students dutifully take copious notes about their science fair topic but struggle to write a meaningful research paper. This lesson models a couple of strategies for students to help them contain their research and organize information in a way that will make the writing of the paper easy!

Investigation Preparation & Summary

5 minutes

How can I develop students’ use of appropriate and precise science vocabulary? In this lesson students are expected to become experts in understanding the science vocabulary surrounding their science fair experiment.

How can I support students to locate appropriate scientific / engineering text and other resources to obtain specific information? Students are expected to be able to define a short list of questions that will help them develop a better understanding about the science behind their experiment. This is a developing skill for students. As a class, we will help students develop a comprehensive list of questions.

How can I support students to navigate scientific/technical text to identify main questions, technical details, data, key results, and conclusions? Students still need a lot of help with writing in science. This lesson will model strategies students can use to organize their research to avoid making writing a chore later.

How can I support students to navigate scientific/technical text to identify main questions, technical details, data, key results, and conclusions? Students will be using their research to write their hypothesis. We encourage students to write their hypothesis in the format; if... then... because... where the because is researched based.

How can I support students to interpret, defend, and produce scientific and technical text?  Students will be selecting research topics that will better help them understand their science experiment. They will use the research to help write the hypothesis and explain the final results. (SP8 - Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information.)

The only materials needed for this lesson are sticky notes.

Students in Action

135 minutes

We will be spending a minimum of three class periods working on research in class. Why? Because I want to make sure that my students are off to a good start. With so many students and differing topics, I simply want to ensure success by making sure students are using credible resources and narrowing their searches in such a way as to find the information they need. We are fortunate that our school subscribes to an encyclopedia service. This is extremely helpful. I recommend students start with the encyclopedia then extend their search to the web.

I provide a stack of sticky notes for students to write their research information as they find it. Students keep the sticky notes in their science journals. 

When they are finished with the research, students organize their sticky notes into three or more big ideas. Three is the minimum, some students have much more information. Students will be using their notes to write a 5-paragraph research paper. Again 5-paragraphs is the minimum. Why a 5-paragraph essay? Students are learning science and the art of becoming a researcher. The 5-paragraph essay provides a format that makes writing easy for students and lets them focus on content. All of our students have science fair projects they present on the same day. Using a standard format helps teachers facilitate student success by not worrying about evaluating several styles of writing. 

I use this power point Science Fair - Organizing Research found in the resources section to mentor the students from note-taking to creating a graphic organizer .

This short video explains how students transition from sticky notes to a graphic organizer. The graphic organizer is actually a foldable we will use in the next lesson, Science Fair - Writing the Research Report.