Planning your project

Six steps to success

Research

Start off by finding out as much as you can about your topic. Visit the library (either in person or online), browse the web, discuss your ideas with your parents, your teachers, your friends, arrange to talk with an expert . . .

You can access a wide range of encyclopedias and other reference material online through the Wellington City Libraries.

Your Question

Now that you know something about your subject, you need to decide on a problem you can investigate: a question that you can test by doing experiments e.g. how does ______ affect ________, or a device or gadget that you can design, build and test to fulfill a task. Use your imagination, be different, but also be practical: make sure you have the resources and the time to complete your project.

Plan

Plan your experiments or your design. Try to be methodical, logical and organized! You have identified one variable you want to investigate, but are there others?

For example, I am investigating how much baking powder I should put in my cake mixture to make the cake rise the most. But what other variables might affect the way cakes rise? Other ingredients in the recipe? Cooking time? Cooking temperature? Brand of baking powder? . . . All these other variables must be kept the same throughout my experiments if it's the amount of baking powder I want to check.

Think carefully about how you are going to make your measurements 'How do you measure how much a cake has risen? '

Make a timetable that allows plenty of time for setbacks (almost all real research projects have them!), to analyse your results and to complete your presentation.

Keep a record

Keep a record of everything you do. Keep a record of your thoughts, actions, ideas, and activities in a seperate book. Please date each activity or entry in this log book. This is quite important, and saves a lot of time later when you use your book to see what happened when. This log book should be handed in with your project: it doesn't have to be super-tidy, but it must be a complete record of your investigation. Like a diary, you should record everything you do each day: your planning, your experiments, what worked and what didn't, thoughts and ideas about the results and what to do next . . .

Analyse your results

How are you going to present them? In tables, graphs . . .

Think, Interpret, Conclude: what do your results mean? Were they as you expected? What can you conclude from them?

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