Final Research Project: Unsolved Question

Throughout the semester we learned how to research and critique scientific and mathematical issues as we explored the process of discovery. You will apply what you have learned by researching an unsolved question or problem related to science or mathematics that interests you. This may be a topic we have covered before or a new topic and it may be a theoretical problem or a real-life question. Poster sessions are a regular part of mathematics and science research, so you will present your research in that format.

You may work alone or with one other person.

Your publication-quality typed project will be graded based on the depth of your connections, and the clarity and creativity of:
  1. A research presentation on the final exam day and visuals (the visuals can be printed paper taped to the wall, a laptop with a electronic visual like PowerPoint, a poster, etc) that contain the following:
  2. Printed Annotated Bibliography For each reference you used, the annotations are brief comments about
    • The type of publication
    • Brief summary of the reference
    • The credentials of the authors
    Note: There is no need for annotations when you are referencing an image.
    Use many different types of sources, including scholarly references and library sources.
  3. Peer Review and Self-Evaluation

    The presentation sessions are similar to research day at Appalachian, poster presentations at research conferences, or science fairs. Bring your project and a printed version of your annotated bibliography to class to post on the wall [I will bring tape]. We will divide up the class into two presentation sessions. During your presentation session, you must stand by your visual to answer questions (and your answers must demonstrate expertise of your topic). During your session, you must stand by your timeline to discuss your topic and answer questions. If you work on your project with someone else, you will each be in different presentation sessions, so you should be prepared to present the entire project. The presentation component typically involves a group of 1 or 2 students at a time listening to your presentation and looking at your project so they can take notes for peer review
Here is a sample project: Should we increase the number of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) graduates? that I created.


The project will be graded using this rubric

Connections to General Education Goals
Builds research and problem solving skills
Peer review and presentations builds connections to each other
In addition, this project connects to the following goals:
Thinking Critically & Creatively [research and creative product]
Communicating Effectively [writing, speaking and reflecting]
Making Local to Global Connections [how science and mathematics applies in many settings, multiple perspectives]
Understanding Responsibilities of Community Membership [citations, peer review, actively listening to each others perspectives and presentations...]

Researching Unsolved/Unanswered Questions

Sample Final Project Topics From Previous Semesters:
  • Does life exist on other planets?
  • Will we stay alive longer?
  • Does dark matter exist?
  • Should we use creatine?
  • Do we need to eat fruits and vegetables?
  • Should we be wearing shoes when we exercise?
  • Is the universe flat?
  • Is P=NP?
  • Is the Goldbach conjecture true?

    Creative projects are encouraged. Discuss your ideas and interests with me, as I am happy to help. You may choose a topic that we have already seen (research project 1, Taking Sides...) or a brand new topic.
  • Wikipedia keeps lists of unsolved problems
  • The library database CQ Researcher has a Pro/Con for select topics and questions.