Science classes offer young students the opportunity to learn via discovery through experiments and observing the natural environment. Class projects may take the form of an entry in a science fair, which gives the student opportunity to both perform an experiment and develop a means of presentation for their discoveries. A research paper serves as a component of the science fair project or a standalone assignment leading to in-depth discovery of a scientific concept.
Developing a Topic and Beginning Research
The first step in writing the science research paper is to choose a topic for the paper. It is important to help the student choose a topic that interests her and has accessible research. Once the topic is determined, the student should begin to find books, encyclopedias or magazine articles pertaining to the topic. Throughout the research process, the student should take notes, record any new vocabulary and speak with the teacher as necessary to clarify information.
Forming a Hypothesis and Experimenting
Once the student has compiled research, a hypothesis to test an idea about the information is formed to demonstrate understanding of the topic. The hypothesis should be included in the research paper. After developing a hypothesis, the student determines which materials are needed to perform the experiment, develop a procedure for performing the experiment and identify variables. Notes are recorded for each stage of the experiment, and the notes should be rewritten as part of the final research paper.
Drafting the Research Paper
With research and notes from the experiment, the student begins to draft the research paper. The paper should begin with an overall summary of the topic and a statement of the hypothesis. In the next section, comprising research, emphasis should be made on the skill of paraphrasing information. Students learn to synthesize information and present information in their own words to complete the research section. Next, the student should list the materials and supplies used in the experimentation, then describe the procedure and her own observations. Finally, the student drafts a conclusion which connects the research to the experimentation. A reference page is the final component of the paper.
Additional Skills and Considerations
The research paper is a tool in a variety of disciplines, and skills necessary for writing a research paper in other subjects are transferable to writing a science research paper. Outlining the paper once all materials are collected provides the student with a framework for writing the first draft of the paper. During drafting, the student should pay attention to details in each paragraph to ensure that a thorough discussion of the topic is evident. Finally, students should be encouraged to write the first draft early enough that there is time for revisions and proofreading before submitting the assignment.
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