Earth Science Research Project

Department of Geosciences
State University of New York Stony Brook

Proposed Outline for the Long Term
(or Local) Project Component
of the
1993 New York State Modified Earth Science Curriculum

Victoria Kramer
October, 1997

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Attached is a proposed outline that can be used when preparing the Long Term project component of the 1993 Earth Science Program modifications curriculum. The long term project requirement of the modified Earth Science curriculum, as developed by the Earth Science Program Resource Innovation Team (E.S.P.R.I.T.), is intended to provide the students with an opportunity to do real scientific research. The objective of the Long Term project is to have the students collect their own scientific data, not to report on research or data gathering done by others and published in books, papers, magazines or the internet! The following outline is a tool that teachers (or students) can use in developing projects to satisfy the requirement of the program modifications curriculum.

The manner in which the project is implemented in the classroom is a matter of taste and teaching style. Some teachers find it more effective to have the students choose from a list of four or five projects, and other teachers have their students develop and design their own project. Either approach is acceptable and the outline provided below has been designed so that it can be used by either a teacher or student. If this outline is distributed to the student, it is suggested that the italics print be modified or deleted.

Project Requirements

If you as an educator have decided to allow your students to select and develop their own long term project, it will be important for you to have the students submit an outline or proposal for their selected project. The proposals should be formatted in the same manner as the outline presented below. Having the students submit such an outline prior to implementing the project will provide you with an opportunity to give the students guidance on their selected topic. It would be at this time that you as the teacher would point out to the student pit-falls and loop holes they might encounter with the topic selected.

The proposal to be prepared by the student should include the following information:

  1. Hypothesis/problem statement.
  2. Materials needed.
  3. Data to be collected.
  4. Procedure.
  5. Presentation of Findings and Data Analysis.
  6. Summary and conclusions.
  7. What have you learned, what might you do differently.
  8. Bibliography.

The contents of each section might include some or all of the following:

1. Hypothesis/problem statement

Each Long Term project should be based on a hypothesis or question that the students are trying to answer. The hypothesis should be simple and should not try to answer too many questions, however; as the students collect data and begin data analysis additional questions may arise. This is a good thing.

2. Materials Needed

Before the students begin their project they should develop a list of materials that will be needed to complete the project. This list may include data charts (i.e. tide charts, lunar phases of the moon) or materials such as a meter stick, compass or protractor. As the project develops, the original materials list might begin to expand. This is a good thing.

As a teacher, it is our responsibility to provide a solid base of background knowledge for the students to use in their project. We should make ourselves available to assist the students in finding information or materials that they may need to successfully complete their project, so that extraneous library research is avoided. This should not be misconstrued as doing the background research for them, but is intended to provide the students with the proper guidance they need in properly using the library or measurement equipment that they may be using.

3. Data Collection

Each project should include a good data collection process. The students should determine ahead of time what data will be collected and should ask how should it be tabulated, plotted, analyzed, interpreted, presented and understood?. Data may include actual physical measurements made, photographs or video taken, and/or data collected from newspaper publications, the internet or scientific journals. The students should determine ahead of time, how best to present the data (graphs, charts, picture logs) so that their questions can be answered. All data must be collected in a dedicated bound notebook that will be incorporated into the grading rubric for the regents.

4. Procedure

The students should prepare a brief outline of the procedure they propose to follow, which describes the scope of work for their project. This procedure would be more detailed and included in the final report.

5. Presentation of Findings and Data Analysis

The final project must include a presentation of the data in tabular and graphic form and in a written or oral presentation. As the data are collected, the students should be keeping track of their records in the dedicated bound notebook. Throughout the quarter, these notebooks must be submitted to the teacher for review and grading.

It is at these review periods that we as educators have an opportunity to help our students and provide reinforcement for our students. At this time, recommendations can be made to help the students make improvements on their projects, identify problem areas for the students and discuss with them how to interpret the data.

As data are being collected, the students should be continually noting observations about the data which should be included in the bound notebook. The observations should be answer questions about the data being collected and should be written in short concise statements. Examples of data analysis for the gnomon project (attached) are listed below.

6. Summary and Conclusions

The summary and conclusions section of the written or oral report prepared by the students will include brief concise statements about the data collected. The statements should answer the questions developed in the data analysis section and also address the projects hypothesis or problem statement. Conclusions about the data can be made based on outside research conducted by the students or others.

As teachers, we will need to provide the students with guidance on how to summarize and draw conclusions from the data they have collected. This can be achieved by going through a data analysis at the end of each lab. The students can than use these experiences to draw conclusions about the data collected from their own projects.

7. What have you learned? What might you do differently if given the opportunity to repeat the project?

Once the project is completed, the students are required to objectively evaluate the work they have done by asking themselves the following questions:

8. Bibliography

A bibliography must be included with the final report if outside research was conducted or data from an outside source (newspaper, internet, journal) was used.




Students Name_____________________________________ Grade_______


Design and Implementation of Project (maximum 2 points)

2 Points Clearly stated problem with well defined focus. Procedure designed to solve problem using appropriate controls. Problem is directly related to Earth Sciences.

1 Point Problem statement too broad and general. Lack of controls in experimental design

0 Points No Earth Science connection. Procedure will not help to solve problem.

Data Collection (maximum 2 points)

2 Points Student directly collected data for at least six weeks, which are clearly documented in dedicated field book. Data are valid and realistic.

1 Point Student directly collected data for at least three weeks, which are clearly documented in dedicated field book.

1 Point Data collected are not documented in field book and do not appear valid or realistic.

0 Points Student collected data for less than three weeks, significant problem with documentation of data in field book, and quality of data is questionable.

Data Analysis (maximum 2 points)

2 Points Conclusions are based on and supported by data obtained. The conclusions show good insight and depth of understanding of the problem being investigated. Conclusions are concise and clear.

1 Point Weak connection between data and conclusions. Little insight and depth of understanding of problem being investigated. Conclusions are fuzzy and unclear.

0 Points Failed to make a connection between data collected and problem being investigated.

Communication of Project Results (Written, Oral, Video or Display) (max. 2 points)

2 Points Clear, well organized, free of grammatical and spelling errors. Effective use of properly constructed data tables, graphs and charts.

1 Point Minor problems with clarity, organization, grammar, spelling, graphs or data tables.

0 Points Unclear, disorganized, many grammatical or spelling errors. No tables, graphs or charts.

Use of Technology (maximum 2 points)

2 Points Use of Internet to acquire or share data with others.

2 Points Use of Internet to obtain reference materials.

2 Points Use of spreadsheet or database to organize data and produce graphs.

2 Points Use of multimedia to communicate results.

1 Point Word processed reporting of results.

0 Points No use of technology.

The students can receive a maximum of ten points for completing the long term project, which will be awarded toward your regents score.

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