Research It

In this part, students will research the issue they’ve defined and write a statement that defines why and how it is a problem in your community. A problem can’t be solved unless it is understood so student teams should learn as much as they can about the issue, its history, what’s been done to address it and the current situation. Their inquiry-based research should culminate in a clearly defined problem statement that defines the issue and shows evidence of how it is a problem in your community. The problem statement should be developed using both personal observations and collected data.


Before You Research


Research Topics

Life/Personal/Social Science Topics

Great Lakes Ecosystems

Develop the Problem Statement

  • Now that you have a better understanding of the problem and how it affects your local community, it’s time to write the problem statement that they will solve or address in the challenge.

  • Then have them work together to write a specific problem statement based on reliable data. Also make sure that your problem statement:

    • Related to the selected topic?

    • Based on scientific data, information, or observation? In other words, do you have evidence that it’s a problem?

    • Able to be solved using a student-developed solution?

    • Specific enough that you can find a starting point to help solve it? Statements that are too broad can be somewhat unmanageable.

  • Write Out Your Problem Statement.

Sample Problem Statements

  • Fertilizer and animal waste run-off from our local fields is resulting in an increase in the nitrate levels in the local streams and our local bay. The increased nitrate levels promote algae growth and can harm fish and shellfish by reducing oxygen levels. (Reducing Runoff in the Environment)

  • The older homes in our city were built at a time when mercury switches and thermometers were commonly used. Mercury is highly toxic, especially to children and animals, and discarded switches and thermometers are showing up in the local landfills. The mercury in them can be exposed, endangering the community. As more things are discarded, it is more likely that people and animals will be exposed to mercury. (Reducing Mercury Poisoning)

  • At our school, 65% of children are driven to school by parents, even though 50% of the students live less than a mile away from the school. Using EPA calculations, we estimate that the additional gasoline usage per week, including waiting in line, is around 60 gallons and the CO2 emissions are around 528 kilograms per week or 21 metric tons per school year.

Writing Your Research Paper

  1. Here is the contest description of task: Describe the inquiry-based research your team did to identify the focus of your project. Include below a clearly defined problem statement that defines the issue and shows evidence of how it is a problem in your community. The problem statement should be developed using both personal observations and collected data. Be sure to include citations for researched data.

    Limit your response to 800 words.

  2. Please write your essay/paper on your blog. We can use that text in the application process.