Research papers are an excellent method for third-grade students to work on writing and researching skills. It gives them the opportunity to learn how to find information on topics and evaluate the credibility of sources. It also teaches them how to organize information and manage their time as most research papers are long range assignments. However, the topic of the research paper is a key to capturing a student's attention with the assignment.
Science provides a wide variety of possibilities for research papers, from the larger content areas of plants, animals, weather, astronomy, human body and ecology/conservation. Specific topics could include types of carnivorous plants, solar system, the five senses, hurricanes, endangered species, ways to save the rain forest, and how to conserve water. Other topics include how to save energy at home, bats, butterflies, human nervous system, and health topics such as how to prevent obesity, exercise programs for children, and nutrition.
Many topics can be found under the category of social studies for third-grade research papers such as studying past cultures such as the Roman Empire, the legend of Atlantis, the Mayans, or the Iroquois. Historical time periods and events such as the Renaissance, Dark Ages, Gold Rush, Great Depression or Dust Bowl all make for interesting possibilities. Wars or military events are also good potential paper topics. Understand human migrations or genocides make for compelling subjects as well.
The arts encompasses a large area of potential research paper topics for third-graders. Papers could be written on individual artists such as Matisse, Picasso, Monet, or Da Vinci. Other possible subjects include composers or musicians such as Beethoven, Mozart, or more modern musicians such as Duke Ellington, Muddy Waters, or Bob Marley. Famous dance troupes, artistic periods, or types of literature or specific books, plays or films are other topics for papers.
Current Events or Controveries
Third-graders could also try to tackle subjects such as recent wars, deforestation, laws regarding texting in cars, animal research or food safety. Homeschooling, violent video games, improving education, ending childhood obesity, whether soda or junk food should be banned from schools, kids and smoking, and dangers of drugs are also topics. While some of these may seem a bit beyond the scope of an 8- or 9-year-old child chances are they already have some knowledge and some opinions on the subjects. Allowing them to read on the topics at their grade level will likely engage them further in learning about the issues.