2012 Aisling Lawson comes 2nd in the Intermediate Section of Behavioural and Social Science !!

PROJECT MATHS : Is it worth it ?

The word cloud of the 2012 YS Titles from rte.ie

a little help on understanding AN O VAhttp://www.physics.csbsju.edu/stats/anova.html

Young scientist


Do you want to enter the young scientist competition?

Start your planning for next January, NOW!

The judges have identified the most common weaknesses that affect projects at the initial entry stage. These weaknesses could result in the project not qualifying for inclusion in the Exhibition in January.

  1. Some studies are little more than a description of what is already known about the topic. Researching the existing body of knowledge is only the first stage of any scientific study.
  2. Frequently, projects state a particular method for data collection, which simply cannot collect the data required. Suppose the aim of the project was to find out which washing powder was most effective, then certain chemical experiments should be undertaken. However, all too often students say that they will distribute questionnaires to gather this information, but what in fact they are collecting are attitudes and opinions about the most effective washing powder.
  3. A study which aims to find out all about the ozone layer is not a realistic scientific study as no-one could be expected to find out all about the ozone layer. Scientific research requires you to be very specific about what you wish to find out and setting measurable objectives is the only way to present scientific investigation. For example a project that looks at the effects on wildlife in a particular area as a result of disturbance created by industrial activity would have to focus on a very specific issue, as this topic is so broad. Much thought should be given to which category best suits your project.
  4. This information should be given on the Project Details Form and/or the One Page Proposal. The judges need to know exactly what experiments are being carried out, in terms of specific experimental processes, materials or the who and how of a social survey.
  5. The specific question raised in a project must be one that has not been posed and recorded by any previous scientist. However, this is not to say that twenty projects on the topic of for example radon gas or water pollution, could not be original, as they will all deal in different ways with different aspects of the topics
  6. A topic must be able to be scientifically proven or disproved by research methods available to second level students. A project on whether or not Jupiter is inhabited by living creatures is not a suitable topic.
  7. Often proposals are submitted that are not scientific projects, but literature reviews. These proposals are information collection exercises and not scientific studies.
  8. Projects which put the students themselves or others at risk of physical injury or disease will not be accepted for the Exhibition.
  9. Projects which put the students themselves or others at risk psychologically or emotionally will not be accepted for the Exhibition.
  10. Sometimes students propose a project that is weak because the period over which the project is being carried out is too short. Judges need to be convinced that the student has enough time to complete the project for the Exhibition.

A total of 500 project places will be available for the Exhibition in the R.D.S. in Dublin next January. However, each category is allocated a finite number of places based on the number of projects entered in that category. It is possible that some projects may not qualify if the quota for a category has been filled with higher ranked projects.

  • Have you clearly defined the aims of your study?
  • Have you been able to access the necessary apparatus and equipment?
  • Have you been successful with experiments and data collection?
  • Have you obtained meaningful results?
  • Are you confident that you can complete the project by the time of the Exhibition?
  • Has the project been entered in any other exhibition or competition? If so, be sure to mention this in your Project Report.
  • Has the project been published previously in part or in full? If so, give details in your Project Report.
  • Are you using potentially dangerous chemicals, organisms or equipment in your project? If so, please discuss with your teacher to ensure that your project adheres to the correct safety regulations.

Pick a Section

Biological and Ecological Sciences

For a project to be accepted into this category it must have a biological and/or ecological focus and investigate aspects of animal, human, microbial or plant biology. Typically, projects deal with the following areas of study: agriculture, anatomy, animal science, biochemistry, biotechnology, disease, ecology, environmental science, enzymology, forestry, food science, genetics, horticulture, medical science, metabolism, microbiology, molecular biology, physiology, physiotherapy, plant science or veterinary science.

Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences

For a project to be accepted into this category it must be based on chemistry, physics, mathematics, applied mathematics, engineering, computer programming and language or electronics. Projects based on earth and space sciences such as meteorology, geophysics, geology and astronomy are also eligible.

Social and Behavioural Sciences

For a project to be accepted into this category it must cover social and behavioural sciences, economic, geographical, psychological or sociological studies of human behaviour, attitudes and experience, social analysis of environmental factors, demography, learning and perception as well as the study of attitudes and behaviour in relation to health, nutrition, work, leisure and living habits are all included here. Projects on consumer affairs, effects on society, social anthropology and political science provided they involve the use of scientific methods are also eligible.


For a project to be accepted into the technology category the core of the project must be the use of technology in new or improved applications, enhanced efficiencies, new innovations or better ways to do things. The category could include things related to the Internet, communications, electronic systems, robotics, control technology, applications of technology, biotechnology, innovative developments to existing problems, computing and automation. Students are also expected to understand the basic science behind the technology so that they can get the most from the project.

When you have decided on a project and carried out some research and trial experiments, it is time to write your One Page Proposal. This helps you not only to organise your thoughts but also to prepare the case for your project.

It should be as concise as possible:

  • word processed
  • in the region of 500 words
  • contained to an A4 sheet

First, it would be helpful to indicate where you got the idea for this project and explain what is the purpose of doing the work, and how you propose to investigate the problem.

Next your description should say briefly what experiments you expect to do and show that the necessary equipment is available to you. Does your planning provide for sufficient time to carry out all the experimental work ? What advice have you sought to help you ?

Finally, you should give some indication of what findings you expect to obtain and how you will try to interpret the results.

Overall the One Page Proposal should be considered as the Research Narrative about your project. It has to convey to the Judges that yours is a scientifically interesting project, achievable in terms of the equipment available to you and the time needed to carry it through to completion.

Remember to mention any institutes or people you have contacted for information.

When you have completed the proposal please make 3 copies.

Two of these must be given to your teacher as soon as possible. Keep the third one safe as a reference.

Although there may seem to be an area of overlap between the information sought from the One Page Proposal and the Project Details Form, the idea is to give you an opportunity to write a descriptive piece about your study which will display your grasp of the topic. An extensive scientific vocabulary is not required. This concise description of your thoughts about the project and of the work that you intend to carry out is essential to the screening process.

A decision on whether or not a project qualifies for the Exhibition in the R.D.S. in January, will be made on the basis of your initial application, so the One Page Proposal is very important.

The judges will screen all projects entered during October. All students will be communicated with as soon as possible afterwards to let them know if they have qualified or not for the Exhibition in the R.D.S. As this process can take four or five weeks to complete, it is essential that students continue work on their projects while awaiting adjudication.

How to Pick Your Project

Deciding on an idea

This may take some time and thought as you have to come up with an idea that is workable, and if possible original. It is often one of the most difficult things about doing a science project. When you think you might have a good idea go to the library or Internet and learn everything you can on the topic. Talk to professionals in the field, write or email companies for specific information, and obtain or construct needed equipment. Sometimes the most interesting projects come from things that you like to do in your spare time or maybe some course you did over the summer holidays. Think of your hobbies, sports, clubs, chores at home, etc. Is there some aspect of these that you could measure and test?

  1. Talk to parents, teachers, and friends
  2. Check out the Internet and the school library
  3. Watch the news, check out a newspaper, a science book or magazine
  4. Think about interesting topics in science or investigate a hobby
  5. Get a large sheet of paper and brainstorm with the team
  6. Make a shortlist of ‘3 best ideas’
  7. Research and brainstorm further
  8. Discuss the ideas with teachers, parents and friends
  9. Check that all experiments are safe and that harmful chemicals are not needed
  10. Make out a list of all the things needed Is the idea workable?
  11. Can measurements be taken?
  12. Is there something that can be changed (independent variable)?
  13. Can all other variables be controlled?
  14. Is the equipment available?
  15. Could the project be completed in time?
  16. Is there enough information available?
  17. Is there a mentor, i.e., someone from a company, a hospital or a third level college who might be a source of information and/or resources?