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Independent Study Project (ISP) 2013

Mr. Beals Honors Earth Science


Science is the process of discovery.  Through the Independent Study Project you will have the opportunity to discover new, exciting aspects of applied science.  You will develop a question about something that interests you, formulate a hypothesis about your question, and ultimately, through experimentation, search for a scientific explanation to your question.

The Platform for Communication²

We will be using a social networking format to communicate and collaborate with each other as you work through your projects.  I have set up a network specifically for our Honors Earth Science class at:

We will also use Edmodo, an education social network platform, to do progress grading (see Grading below).  Before the specified due dates for parts of the project, you will post the assignment in your Think Tank Blog to ensure credit for each progress grade. **Any inappropriate use of “Edmodo” will result in immediate disciplinary action**

The Project

The handout Intel ISEF Student Handbook has detailed information about how to develop your project.  Choose a topic that aligns with your interests, you will enjoy the project much more if you chose something you like.

Very little class time will be available for working on your ISP.  Most work will be done outside of class.


See Science Research and the Process of Science in the student handbook for an explanation of the following requirements.


Assignment Name

Due Date*



Edmodo Collaboration²


30 pts


Testable Question

Wednesday 1/23

20 pts


Background Research

Wednesday 1/30

20 pts


Hypothesis & Adult Mentor³

Thursday 1/31

30 pts


Experimental Design (procedure)

Wednesday 2/6

30 pts


2 Experimentation Checkups

Wednesday 2/20 & 3/6

10 pts/ea



Monday 3/18

50 pts


Presentations /Exhibits4


100 pts**


2012 Science Expo: MSUB

Fri/Sat: 3/22-3/23

Extra Credit


Total Points


300 pts

*The dates are subject to change.  See Edmodo for updates

**See: Intel ISEF Judging Criteria in Student Handbook

Edmodo Collaboration (ongoing) = 30pts

This social network is an area for you to collaborate with fellow students, provide feedback on their projects, and post updates for grading.  You should have a minimum of 1 post in Edmodo per week. This will include comments on other people’s work, questions that you post to the group, words of encouragement to classmates, etc. (3 points per week x 10 weeks = 10 posts minimum)

Testable Question

From Intel ISEF Student Handbook:

Questioning is probably the most important part of a scientific investigation and is often followed by an “if…then” statement. Students are encouraged to design ‘controlled’ experiments, ones that allow them to set up a standard and then change only one variable at a time to see how that variable might affect the original condition tested as the standard. Thus, questioning usually leads to experiments or observations.


Good scientists, both young and old, frequently use a process to study what they see in the world. This process has been referred as the ‘Scientific Method’ or more recently as the ‘Inquiry Cycle’. The following stages listed below will help you produce a good scientific experiment:


Be curious, choose a limited subject, ask a question; identify or originate/define a problem. It is important that this question be a ‘testable’ question – one in which data is taken and used to find the answer. A testable question can further be identified as one in which one or more variables can be identified and tested to see the impact of that variable on the original set of conditions. The question should not merely be an ‘information’ question where the answer is obtainable through literature research.

 Click on the assignment in Edmodo and post the following:

                                    -Your testable question, in question format

                                    -An explanation of WHY you chose that question, and HOW you intend to test it

Background Research

Background research is important for a couple reasons: it allows you to learn about your ISP and it helps you determine if your ISP is creative enough to use as a project. For example, in your research if you find the answer to your testable question then you will need to develop a new testable question

Research your testable question on the internet or in the library.

Lastname, Firstname Period ? Background Research


*5 sources minimum (MLA reference)

-One source must be a published scientific paper (minimum)

-How? Google the following: Google Scholar, click the link and search!

*Description of the information you gained from each source 


Hypothesis/Adult Mentor³

Formulate a hypothesis for the outcome for Testable Question. 

Choose an adult who can assist you in the project.  This may be a teacher that you can confide in, one of your parents who is willing to assist you with the project, or an uncle who has a deep interest in science and discovery.  It is up to you.  To get credit for this portion you will post following information about your adult mentor in your Edmodo page:

Lastname, Firstname Period ? Hypothesis/Adult Mentor

-Restate your Testable Question

-Provide your hypothesis (explain)


-Name of adult
-Relationship (parent, family friend, teacher, etc)
-Reasons for choosing this person.
-Explain how you envision this person helping you through your ISP.


Experimental Design

This section describes and outlines the procedure you used to collect data and find an answer to your testable question. This should be a very detailed list of materials and methods.  Just pretend that I want to redo this experiment exactly the same way you have performed it and write out every detail so that I could easily replicate it.


From ISEF Student Handbook:  Plan Your Experiment: Give careful thought to experimental design. Once you have a feasible project idea, write a research plan. This plan should explain how you will do your experiments and exactly what will be involved. Remember you must design your experiment so that it is a ‘controlled’ experiment. This is one in which only one variable is changed at a time. The results are then compared to the ‘standard’ data you take originally before you change that one variable. Thus, you have designed an investigation with adequate control and limited variables to investigate a question. Also, in your experimental design, make sure you include sufficient numbers in both control (if applicable) and experimental groups to be statistically valid. The experimental design should also include a list of materials. Once finished with the experimental design (called ‘procedure’) all students are required to fill out the appropriate forms.

Consult with Your Adult Sponsor and Get Approvals: You are required to discuss your research plan with an Adult Sponsor and obtain a signature of approval. In reviewing your research plan, you should determine if additional forms and prior approval are needed.

Conduct Your Experiment: During experimentation, keep detailed notes of each and every experiment, measurement and observation in a log book. Do not rely on memory. Besides, judges love logbooks! Use data tables or charts to record your quantitative data.


Lastname, Firstname Period ? Experimental Design


-Restate your Testable Question

-List of materials needed to perform experiment

-Detailed list of the procedure of experiment (this should have every detail so that I could replicate your project exactly by following your procedure; don’t leave anything out!)



Experiment Checkup

**Note: There are two Experiment Checkup DUE DATES, refer to schedule above**Your experiment should be well underway at this point (or possibly completed). Post the following to share your progress with the class.

Lastname, Firstname Period ? Experiment Checkup


-Restate your Testable Question

-Post a minimum of 1 of multimedia showing your progress

    ~This can be a picture, video or sound file

-Write an explanation of your progress thus far.

-Write an explanation outlining what you still need to complete and how you will complete all item in the time remaining.


ISP Report

The report must be printed and submitted to Mr. Beals at the beginning of class on the due date.

  • Title Page
    • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
    • The introduction sets the scene for your report. The introduction includes the purpose, your hypothesis, problem or engineering goals, and explanation of what prompted your research, and what you hoped to achieve.
  • Materials and Methods
    • Describe in detail the methodology you used to collect data, make observations, design apparatus, etc.  Your research paper should be detailed enough so that someone would be able to repeat the experiment from the information in your paper. Include detailed photographs or drawings of self-designed equipment.
  • Results
    • The results include data and analysis. This should include statistics, graphs, pages with your raw collected data, etc.
  • Discussion:
    • This is the essence of your paper. Compare your results with theoretical values, published data, commonly held beliefs, and/or expected results. Include a discussion of possible errors. How did the data vary between repeated observations of similar events? How were your results affected by uncontrolled events? What would you do differently if you repeated this project? What other experiments should be conducted?
  • Conclusions
    • Briefly summarize your results. State your findings in relationships of one variable with the other. Support those statements with empirical data (one average compared to the other average, for example). Be specific, do not generalize. Never introduce anything in the conclusion that has not already been discussed. Mention practical, everyday applications.
    • Give credit to all those who assisted you.
  • References/Bibliography


The final presentation/evaluation format has not been solidified.  Two possible formats are listed below.  More information will be provided as the year progresses.

  • Presentation: verbal and visual presentation of ISP to an audience.
  • Exhibit: Experimental material, showcase board and yourself on display at exhibit.  Judges visit each person individually for an interview of ISP.
  • 2013Science Expo – MSUB:  You will have the opportunity to enter your project into the 2013 Science Expo at MSUB for a chance at thousands of dollars in scholarships and extra credit in Honors Earth Science (more info to come).


Descriptions of Assignments
We will use the INTEL ISEF Student Handbook as a guide for this project.  ISEF is the governing body for the International Science Fair.  We are using their protocol and your project will be every bit as good as those presented at Science Fairs across the world.  Descriptions of the assignments listed above can be found in the student handbook.  You may download a student handbook at


Acceptable Use Policy for Electronics

You must accept the terms outlined in the District Student Handbook ( pages 5, 6 & 7) before you may use Think Tank. Any violation to this agreement will result in a zero for the project and possible disciplinary action from Senior High School and School District #2.




Craig Beals,
Jan 18, 2012, 1:42 PM
Craig Beals,
Jan 17, 2012, 12:49 PM