From Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS)…
SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT (Score 1-5)
- Selection and statement of the problem, experimental validity and value, scope of design.
The ultimate aim of science research is to promote new knowledge and understanding of the world in which we live. From reading and observation one comes up with a basic concept. This idea permits formulation of a meaningful question or hypothesis to which an answer may be found through a suitably designed experiment. Thus judging the “scientific thought” criterion involves consideration of such questions as:
a) Does the student exhibit sufficient background understanding of the principles and concepts involved in the topic?
b) Is there a significant basic thought in the project? Is it clearly stated?
c) Does it admit formulation of an age-appropriate meaningful question?
d) Is the scope of the problem sufficiently limited to permit a meaningful experiment?
e) Is there a single, formal hypothesis? EXPERIMENTAL METHODS (Score 1-5)
- Choosing/developing techniques for valid analysis. Use of original materials or using old materials in an original way. Proper controls and sample size.
This criterion refers to the details of a well-designed experimental procedure intended to answer the question posed. The project may require designing, building and using material hardware. The presenter must design and carry out his/her own experiment.
a) Is the project well designed for the problem at hand?
b) Is the experiment basically sound, with sufficient sample size and control of variables? Did the experiment have both a control group and experimental group(s)?
c) Does the procedure follow a logical sequence?
d) Have any original or ingenious materials or methods been used?
e) Were results measurable/quantifiable and done in metric? ANALYTICAL APPROACH (Score 1-5)
- Ability to draw valid conclusions. Full use of data and findings. Interpretations of weakness of design. Suggestions for further research.
Book reports and research theories unsupported by practical data cannot achieve success in PJAS competitions because of this criterion. The student must have personally accumulated some actual data to analyze, even if the trend is negative or neutral to his hypothesis. The critical thing for a student to exhibit to judges is that he knows what the data MEANS.
a) Is the body of data sufficient to draw valid conclusions?
b) Do the conclusions refer back to the original question or hypothesis?
c) Is the student grouping the data properly to enable comparisons between groups?
Is the data fully used to draw conclusions?
d) Is he evaluating the significance of his own data properly?
e) Has the student thought about