One of the goals of our middle school science program is to engage students in inquiry-based science with the intent of publishing their high-quality work in a prestigious journal tailored to the skills and abilities of middle and high school students–the Journal of Emerging Investigators. We don’t always meet this goal, and that’s acceptable, but it is one to which we aspire nevertheless.
To this end, a number of our assignments are designed to create opportunities for students to develop their own research and scientific questions, submit work for review(s), and receive critical feedback from peers, teachers, and even trained scientists. In summary, it is the explicit intent of Dr. Merritt’s courses to promote authentic, inquiry-based science education in which science students develop questions and generate, as well as test, hypotheses. One of the ways in which we aim to meet this goal is to engage our students in RESEARCH ARTICLES (RAs). Research articles are a very important part of professional scientific work. When written well, these articles appear in prestigious scientific journals such as Nature and Science.
RAs are somewhat lengthy written (or typed) papers and they are derived directly from the Science Fair Project (SFPs). In other words, students convert their final SFP posters directly into Research Articles. Completed RAs will undergo both teacher and peer evaluation. The final grade for this paper is a weighted combination of these two types of evaluations. The expectations and criteria for the RAs will be tailored to (among other factors) a student’s age or grade-level, linguistic background, learning difficulties, and/or experience/ability.
Much like scientists do, in our class we break our Research Articles into a number of different sections. To find out more details about each these sections–as well as the sub-sections within some of them–choose the links below.
2. INTRODUCTION (or BACKGROUND) – What is the problem or issue?
3 & 4. METHODS (or MATERIALS & METHODS) – How did you study the problem? How did you answer the research question?
5. RESULTS – What solutions did you find to the problem? What answer(s) did you find to the research question?
6. DISCUSSION – What do these solutions to the problem mean? What do these answers to the research question mean?
7. LITERATURE – What did you read when you were working on this problem? Whose texts helped you answer your research question?
8. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS – Who helped you solve this problem? Whose support was necessary in order to answer your research question?
9. OTHER –
A. Title Page
B. Appendices – What supplemental materials (e.g., data tables, graphs, charts, etc.) did you hesitate to put in the main body of the paper, but that you would still like your readers to have the ability to peruse?
Each student in Dr. Merritt’s science classes will undertake and complete one authentic, inquiry-driven Research Article each year. This means that each three-year middle school student will complete a total of three RAs while a student at TASIS.
In middle school, the RAs will be completed according to the following schedule:
|Grade||1st SEMESTER||2nd SEMESTER|
- Should a middle school student desire to do more than one Research Article per school year, students must arrange times to work with the teacher independently outside of the class day–for example, after school or during weekends.
OH, WHAT’S THAT YOU SAY?
You think you’re too young and too inexperienced to write a scientific research article? Well, Dr. Merritt disagrees! Respectfully, of course…
Did you know that in 2010 a class of 10-years-old elementary school students in England wrote a scientific paper about honey bee behavior that was accepted and published by a professional scientific journal? It’s true, you can see a wonderful TED video about their scientific journey HERE and you can download and read a free PDF copy of the scientific paper they wrote HERE. There is also an interview with some of the students and adults involved in the Blackawton Bees research project. You can see that interesting video podcast HERE.
I know what you’re thinking…
What’s the point?
There aren’t any scientific journals for middle and high school students anyhow!
Well, don’t be so sure. In 2011, a Harvard Medical School graduate student started the Journal of Emerging Investigators (JEI for short), which is an open-access journal that publishes original research in the biological and physical sciences written by middle and high school students. An ‘open-access’ journal means that it’s free access for anyone with an Internet connection!
JEI provides students one of the few opportunities for middle and high schools students to submit and gain feedback on original research and to publish their findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. HERE is one of my favorite scientific articles published in JEI. The authors are Suvir Mirchandani (a 14-year old student) and Peter Pinko (his science teacher).
- You can see and read more about their interesting scientific article in this CNN.com article.