Written and contributed by Paul Zachos, Ph.D.

    This program affords students the opportunity to participate in the community of scientific research and scholarship as part of their high school experience. It furthers excellence in performance and achievement, while drawing from and developing scientific capabilities in a broad spectrum of the student body. Students taking the course accomplish the following skills:

    • Students choose and explore a topic of interest.       The topic may come from mathematics, physical science, life science, social science or psychology.
    • They develop skills in using the Internet’s electronic mail capabilities and conduct on-line bibliographic searches of international databases.

    Students find and study several journal articles, eventually choosing one which they will present to the class. Their presentation to the class emphasizes how research described in the article was conducted. Thus, it makes the scientific method, which is the essence of the course, explicit for the student and the class. The elements of this method always include:

    • A review of literature
    • A statement of the hypothesis or the problem
    • Methodology
    • A presentation and analysis of results
    • Conclusions
    • Bibliographic work and footnotes

    Students prepare a statement of what they intend to study based on their bibliographic research.

    Students contact the author of the journal article they studied. They ask for suggestions for future research that they might undertake. They ask the scientist to serve as a mentor or to help them find an appropriate scientist mentor to assist them in carrying out a research project in their area of interest.

    Students then engage in an original piece of research under the guidance of their scientist          mentor and their classroom research teacher. The classroom teacher meets with individuals and the research class on a regular basis. The students communicate with scientist mentors, wherever they are, using electronic mail capabilities.

    Students conduct statistical analyses using appropriate statistical computer software. Students make presentations of their findings to their class, their school district, and at regional and statewide symposia. Their presentations are based on the scientific protocol listed above and incorporate visual presentation techniques (e.g. Microsoft PowerPoint).

    All steps in the student’s progress are carefully and systematically monitored to assure that students engage in each phase of scientific research and have attained desired capabilities.



    The student’s actual beginning in the Science Research course is in the freshman/sophomore summer. It is then that the topic is chosen and ten articles found, read and summarized.

    During the sophomore year the research student concentrates on learning a number of research and associated skills. First and foremost the student must learn to see that research always follows the same basic pattern of progress. They do this by extensive reading and by presenting papers written by researchers in their chosen field. These presentations must always contain the same basic elements of a review (to elucidate what has gone on before and prevent repetition), a hypothesis or statement of a problem to be addressed, a methodology, a presentation of data, with graphics, a discussion of the data, and a conclusion.

    Students are assessed by their peers in their presentations.

    Also during the sophomore year, the student must learn search techniques for finding literature, time management, and the importance of detailed record keeping. It is during this year that the student must identify possible mentors and their locations and contact at least one of them to ask for help with the work. Also, this year, the student has to plan a project, under the guidance of a mentor, and secure a place to do his/her research.

    In the sophomore/junior summer, the student is expected to work on the research project. While this is always influenced by family expectations and time constraints, at least some part of the work should be done in this summer.

    The junior year is the year of intense research activity. This is when most of the data collection will happen. The hypothesis is continually refined and public presentations are made of the work being done. Reading continues to keep abreast of new findings in the chosen field. Some competitions, such as the JSHS and the ISEF may be entered.

    In the junior/senior summer all data collection should be finished. This is the time to finish analyzing data collected and start writing the research paper.

    Senior year research students should finish their work. Student/director meetings continue through this year. The research paper is written based on the format used in the journal articles the student has been reading. During this year the student must present the final research paper to the class, and the school in general. The student must also enter any competitions open to her/him. Each senior student must also attempt to publish the research paper.