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How do I choose a project?

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Presentation on theme: "How do I choose a project?"— Presentation transcript:

1 How do I choose a project?
Dr. Patricia Hanlan Physics Detroit Country Day School

2 Is there a best way to find a project?
Not really – as long as you start with curiosity, you will find a path. Today I want to show you several paths to good projects so that you can decide which might work for you.

3 Where to start….. What interests me? What equipment do I have?
What skills do I have? What am I willing to learn? What knowledge do I have? What resources do I have? What time can I commit? What bothers me?

4 Question first – for the first-timers?
What bothers me? Find a question to answer Build on your curiosity about the world around you Decide if something that “everyone” knows might not be true Is there a way to ask your question so that only one or two parameters of the problem can be examined? Example: I hate the fact that grass grows in my sidewalk. Is there a way to make a “grass-proof” connection between cement pavers? What can you do with this?

5 Hobby first What knowledge do I have?
Let’s say you are very knowledgeable about something (golf or gardening, basketball or baking) because you have been involved in the activity for a long time. Now that you have taken science classes, things that were done “just because” might seem a bit odd. Do you have a question that you can form because of knowledge you already have about something? Example: Do light weight shoes really improve athletic performance?

6 Subject first What interests me?
Let’s say you are very knowledgeable or very interested in a specific subject (phragmite growth in SE Michigan). You already have a more-than-amateur knowledge of the field and you already know some of the most interesting problems that people are trying to solve. Do you have a different/easier/cheaper way to solve a known problem? Example: Can cattails reclaim a phragmite-infested area?

7 People first What resources do I have?
Is there a teacher who helps with science fair or who just seems to know lots about lots? Does someone I know work in a field I am interested in? Do I live close to a university and am I willing to ask for a research position? Am I able to spend the time necessary to be part of a lab? What time can I commit?

8 Technique first What equipment do I have?
My school has a cool piece of equipment that we learned to use in the chemistry lab. My grandfather has some odd machine in his garage. My school has a old thing in a storage room. When I asked what is was, I was shown how to use it. If you start by tinkering, then you can find a interesting way to use the equipment. It might let you answer a question that you couldn’t try before! Example – I have a spectrophotometer. I can study sugar content in drinks.

9 Research on my own first
What am I willing to learn? Research on my own first Can I keep my research area broad until I find something interesting? Going to a university library and looking at what scientists were doing 100 years ago is an interesting project. Some of the ideas that were speculative at the time and now easy to test. Can I go to the internet? Sure, but make sure that any idea you get becomes your own.

10 Experience first What knowledge do I have?
There are many opportunities for both research and academic experience each summer and during the year. Some of them lead directly to science projects, some only indirectly. Anytime you have contact with new material and new mentors, you can find a way to connect. Many of these programs are free. For example, The Ford High School Science and Technology Program are seminars that happen during the school year. Any nearby university department hosts seminars on a regular basis

11 No matter what comes first a question comes last.
Hobby First (2) Subject First (3) Technique First (4) Research First (5) People First (6) Experience First (7) Observe Know about a problem Learn about a subject What can this machine do? Find a project Get a suggestion Do something new Understand parameters Know about current solutions State most important question What questions can be answered? Try it out Try it out – do you get the problem Learn something new (go to 3 or 4) Restate question Question a given solution Try to isolate a parameter What can I isolate? Restate question and talk to mentor Meet someone new (go to 6) experiment

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