Step 3: Topic Selection
If you’ve made it this far, you may already have an idea of what you want to learn about in your project this year. Once you do some research, this may change. Overall, you should think of a question that you can attempt to answer with your experiment. At the bottom of this page there is a list of projects to avoid that comes directly from the PRSEF website.
Important things to consider for your topic are:
- Is it testable?
- Is there a perceived cause-and-effect relationship (or a correlation)?
- Is there research available to use as a starting point?
- Can you measure the results?
- Can you obtain the materials? If they are dangerous, hard to find, expensive, or illegal, you’ll want to choose a more appropriate project.
- Will testing this cause unacceptable risk or harm to the subjects?
You’ll know you are finished coming up with a project once you can ask a single research question.
- Your research question should be specific.
- Your research question should NOT be obvious (Do taller candles burn longer?)
- It should satisfy the list of considerations at the start of this page.
e.g. What is the effect that different brands of potting soil will have on growth of cilantro plants?
ADD YOUR RESEARCH QUESTION TO BLANK #1 ON YOUR EXPERIMENT WORKBOOK. (Guidebook available here)
You should have a good rationale for conducting your experiment. Why do you want to do this project? Why is this research important and applicable? What are the potential impacts of your results?
e.g. I want to conduct this experiment because my family grows cilantro plants every year, but we can never get them to grow like our other herbs and vegetables. This experiment can help my family and other cilantro growers to produce a better plant. With the results of my experiment, I hope to be able to help correct our cilantro growing problem and share the knowledge gained with my community.
ADD YOUR RATIONALE TO BLANK #2 ON YOUR EXPERIMENT WORKBOOK.