Independent Study Project (ISP) 2020

In collaboration with the MSUB Science Expo

Mr. Beals Honors Science Classes

Science is the process of discovery. Through the Independent Study Project, you will have the opportunity to discover new, exciting aspects of applied science. You will develop a question about something that interests you, formulate a hypothesis about your question, and ultimately, through experimentation, search for a scientific explanation to your question. The goal? Change the world!

The Project

The handout Intel ISEF Student Handbook has detailed information about how to develop your project. Choose a topic that aligns with your interests, you will enjoy the project much more if you chose something you like.

Some class time will be available for working on your ISP. Most work will be done outside of class.


See Science Research and the Process of Science in the student handbook for an explanation of the following requirements.

*The dates are subject to change.

**See: Intel ISEF Judging Criteria in Student Handbook

***If you register for the EXPO and don't show up for the presentation, you will be docked 20 points***

Testable Question

Introduction to the Independent Study Project

Think big!

Think of something that interests you! Think of something that you will be proud of when you've completed the study.

Change the world!

This is your chance to do something you never thought you could do! This is NOT a science fair project so don't Google ideas on what to do, this is a project that should be something that matters and interests you.

More data is more better!

As you plan your project, you must be able to gather a TON of data to come to a conclusion. Start early, work hard, don't wait until the last minute. You will need to verify your results with statistics. Take pictures of everything! You never know when you will need them!

Be Inspired!

Need inspiration? Visit, our website of the three minute presentations where students showcase their Independent Study Projects.

Be Excited!

Choose something you can get excited about! Your project will be a million times better if you enjoy working on it!

Be Curious!

Choose a limited subject, ask a question; identify or originate/define a problem. It is important that this question be a ‘testable’ question – one in which data is taken and used to find the answer. A testable question can further be identified as one in which one or more variables can be identified and tested to see the impact of that variable on the original set of conditions. The question should not merely be an ‘information’ question where the answer is obtainable through literature research.

Be Original!

Your testable question should not be something that can be answered by a search on the internet - it should be novel and new. Likewise, you may not use any project that has already been outlined on the internet ( and similar sites). This is an Independent Study Project that should be specific to your interests and should challenge you to work through the scientific process.

Are you thinking of an engineering project or invention? Read this: **Scientific Method vs Engineering Design Process**

Example Reports from past students:

Task to be completed:

    1. Create a new Google Doc titled: "ISP Firstname Lastname Period? DRAFT"
    2. Share the document with
    3. Create a heading "Testable Question"
      • Read the "Hints, Tips and Tricks" before you start.
    4. Brainstorm and write out a minimum of 5 "I Wonder...." questions.
    5. Turn at least 3 of the 5 questions into one of the following
      • Testable Question or
      • Comparative Question or
      • Engineering Solution or
      • Invention
    6. **Highlight your final testable question**

Background Research

Background research is important for a couple reasons: it allows you to learn about your ISP and it helps you determine if your ISP is creative enough to use as a project. For example, in your research, if you find the answer to your testable question then you will need to develop a new testable question

Research your testable question on the internet or in the library.

Create a new heading titles "Background Research"

*5 sources minimum (MLA reference)

-One source must be a published scientific paper (minimum)

-How? Google the following: Google Scholar, click the link and search!

*Description of the information you gained from each source

Hypothesis/Adult Mentor³

Formulate a hypothesis for the outcome of your Testable Question.

Choose an adult who can assist you in the project. This may be a teacher that you can confide in, one of your parents who is willing to assist you with the project, or an uncle who has a deep interest in science and discovery. It is up to you. To get credit for this portion you must bring in a signed note from your mentor stating that they are willing to assist you with this project as well as updating your D2 document:

Create a new heading titled "Hypothesis"

-Restate your Testable Question

-Provide your hypothesis (explain)

Create a new heading titled "Adult Mentor":

-Adult mentor name

-Relation/Connection to adult mentor

-Explain how / when your adult mentor will assist you

TURN IN TO TEACHER - On a piece of paper, include the following (NO CREDIT IF NOT TURNED IN ON DUE DATE!):

    • Heading
    • Your Testable Question
    • Your Adult Mentor's Name
    • Relation/Connection to adult mentor
    • Signature from adult mentor

Experiment Design

This section describes and outlines the procedure you used to collect data and find an answer to your testable question. This should be a very detailed list of materials and methods. Just pretend that I want to redo this experiment exactly the same way you have performed it and write out every detail so that I could easily replicate it.


From ISEF Student Handbook: Plan Your Experiment: Give careful thought to experimental design. Once you have a feasible project idea, write a research plan. This plan should explain how you will do your experiments and exactly what will be involved. Remember you must design your experiment so that it is a ‘controlled’ experiment. This is one in which only one variable is changed at a time. The results are then compared to the ‘standard’ data you take originally before you change that one variable. Thus, you have designed an investigation with adequate control and limited variables to investigate a question. Also, in your experimental design, make sure you include sufficient numbers in both controls (if applicable) and experimental groups to be statistically valid. The experimental design should also include a list of materials. Once finished with the experimental design (called ‘procedure’) all students are required to fill out the appropriate forms.

Consult with Your Adult Sponsor and Get Approvals: You are required to discuss your research plan with an Adult Sponsor and obtain a signature of approval. In reviewing your research plan, you should determine if additional forms and prior approval are needed.

Conduct Your Experiment: During experimentation, keep detailed notes of each and every experiment, measurement, and observation in a log book. Do not rely on memory. Besides, judges love logbooks! Use data tables or charts to record your quantitative data.


Create a new heading titled "Experiment Design"

-Restate your Testable Question

-List of materials needed to perform experiment

-Detailed list of the procedure of experiment (this should have every detail so that I could replicate your project exactly by following your procedure; don’t leave anything out!)

Experiment Checkups

**Note: There are two Experiment Checkup DUE DATES, refer to schedule above**

**Your experiment should be well underway at each Checkup. Post the following to share your progress with the class.

Create a new heading "Experiment Checkup #1" (See due date above)

-Restate your Testable Question

-Post a minimum of 1 of multimedia showing your progress

~This can be a picture, video or sound file

-Write a detailed explanation of your progress thus far.

-Write a detailed explanation outlining what you still need to complete and a timeline (including dates) showing when you will complete the unfinished portions of your experiment / engineering solution.

Create a new heading "Experiment Checkup #2" (See due date above)

-Restate your Testable Question

-Post a minimum of 1 of multimedia showing your progress

~This can be a picture, video or sound file

-Write a detailed explanation of your progress thus far.

-Write a detailed explanation outlining what you still need to complete and a timeline (including dates) showing when you will complete the unfinished portions of your experiment / engineering solution.

-Statistical Analysis of Data (or an explanation of what statistical analyses you will use)

~Need help with Stats? Start here:

ISP Report

Your report will be graded using this rubric: Rubric for grading

    1. Start a new Google doc titled "Firstname Lastname ISP Report FINAL"
    2. Share it with (can edit). You will submit a digital copy (by sharing it in Google docs) and a printed copy.
    3. Final report must be printed and turned in at the beginning of class on the due date
    4. MLA Format. In-text citations.
    5. Include a heading for each section (ex. "Introduction" with your intro written below the heading.)
    • Title Page
      • Title of your Independent Study Project
      • Name / Class Period
      • Table of Contents
    • Introduction
      • The introduction sets the scene for your report. The introduction includes the purpose, your hypothesis, problem or engineering goals. Include an explanation of what prompted your research and what you hoped to achieve by choosing the project.
    • Materials and Methods
      • Describe, in detail, the methodology you used to collect data, make observations, build your design apparatus, etc. Your materials and methods should be detailed enough that someone would be able to repeat your experiment from the information in your paper. Include detailed photographs or drawings of self-designed equipment.
    • Results
      • The results section is for data. This should include statistics, graphs, and/or pages with your raw collected data. You may need to put raw data, pictures or other extensive information in your "Appendix" (see below).
      • You must have some statistical analysis of your data to confirm whether or not it is valid or conclusive.
      • You must include the sample size in this section - without it, your results are inconclusive.
    • Discussion:
      • This is the essence of your paper and is your "Data Analysis" section. Compare your results with theoretical values, published data, commonly held beliefs, and/or expected results that you found in your research. Include a discussion of possible errors. How did the data vary between repeated observations of similar events? How were your results affected by uncontrolled events? What would you do differently if you repeated this project? What other experiments should be conducted? Discuss your sample size and how it relates to your statistical analysis.
    • Conclusions
      • Briefly summarize your results. State your findings in relationships of one variable with the other. Support those statements with empirical data (one average compared to the other average, for example). Be specific, do not generalize. Never introduce anything in the conclusion that has not already been discussed. Mention practical, everyday applications.
      • Give credit to all those who assisted you.
    • References/Bibliography
    • Appendix
      • Include any raw data, photos, etc in an appendix
      • Refer to the appendix in the report if needed. (ex...the water levels continued to decline in samples #12 and #13 [see Appendix 3]...)

Example Reports from past students


    • Presentation: Verbal presentation **2020 - You will need to record your presentation and share it with me via Drive" Read the instructions on the following link very carefully** - Teach Me In 3 ~ Three Minutes to Change the World! (click link for explanation)
    • Create a Google Slide. Title the slide "Firstname Lastname ISP Presentation". Share it with (can edit)

Descriptions of Assignments

We will use the INTEL ISEF Student Handbook as a guide for this project. ISEF is the governing body for the International Science Fair. We are using their protocol and your project will be every bit as good as those presented at Science Fairs across the world. Descriptions of the assignments listed above can be found in the student handbook. You may download a student handbook at

Acceptable Use Policy for Electronics

You must accept the terms outlined in the District Student Handbook ( pages 5, 6 & 7). Any violation to this agreement will result in a zero for the project and possible disciplinary action from Senior High School and School District #2.