Final Research Project: Unsolved Question
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:
Here is a sample project: Should we increase the
number of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
graduates? that I created.
- 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
- Unsolved Problem or Question Present an unsolved
scientific or mathematical question or problem.
What are the various academic fields or subjects that relate to your topic?
Here are the
- Conflicting Viewpoints
Summarize conflicting viewpoints related to the problem
(in the style of the text TAKING
SIDES: Clashing Views in Science, Technology, and Society).
Each "side" is a list of referenced bullet points with supporting arguments
(maximum of one printed 8.5x11 page per side)
and this can include historical evidence and philosophical or ethical
as well as unproven theories, as long as they are referenced.
- Conclusion Some type of conclusion that includes
what the majority of the scientific/mathematical community believes and
your own thoughts on the problem.
In addition, you might also summarize or discuss
possible plans or approaches for solving the question or problem.
For instance, you might design one experiment
which could take place in the far future if you desire.
Regardless, be sure to
conclude with the current thoughts of the
scientific/mathematical community and
your own thoughts on the problem - what is most compelling to
you and why.
- Interesting Images Be sure to include some interesting images
in your project and give them proper reference.
- Printed Annotated Bibliography
For each reference you used, the
annotations are brief
Note: There is no need for annotations when you are referencing an
- The type of publication
- Brief summary of the reference
- The credentials of the authors
Use many different types of sources, including scholarly references and
- Ensures that you are not "reinventing the wheel".
- Gives credits to those who have laid the groundwork for your research.
- Demonstrates your knowledge of the research problem.
- Demonstrates your understanding of the theoretical and
research issues related to your research question.
- Shows your ability to critically evaluate relevant literature information.
- Indicates your ability to integrate and synthesize the existing literature.
- Provides theoretical insights or develops a model as the conceptual
framework for your research.
- Convinces your reader
that your proposed research will make a
contribution to the literature.
- 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.
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
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 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