Teachers Parents Students

Survey Says: Survey-Based Science Projects

| 2 Comments

You may be able to win brownie points with friends and family if your science project involves baking dozens of cookies and asking people to tell you which one tastes best... the ones with regular chips or the ones with mini chips or the ones with white chocolate chips or the ones with carob chips or even the ones with M&Ms. A chocolate buzz can go a long way, but is it science?

Projects that involve surveys and testing (even taste testing) by volunteers can be legitimate science projects, but be careful! The project you choose has to have an underlying scientific principle and needs to be designed in such a way that you are asking (and investigating) a clear scientific question. The scientific backbone of the project may be a psychological, sociological, or other scientific principle, but there has to be a science component on which the project--and the survey--hinges.

Projects that simply compare products (which type of chocolate chip tastes better tastes, for example) are not appropriate for a science fair. While those kinds of tests and comparisons are valuable in product marketing and product development, they don't necessarily fill the requirements of a science project. As you consider projects, you want to be sure that your background research leads you to a test-able hypothesis. If there isn't any real research you can do, then you are not asking a scientific question.

Luckily, there are an infinite number of science-based questions that can be asked. With careful planning, survey-based projects can be fun and successful. With a bit of research and planning, you can even develop a whole project around cookie taste-testing! Stumped as to how? Check out our How Do You Make the 'Best' Cookie? project.


Planning Ahead

Unlike other experiment-based projects, with a survey, it is really important that you "get it right" the first time. You can't easily go back and "try again" or repeat your survey. Your experiment needs to be well-planned and really well thought out from the beginning.

Before you are ready to talk with your volunteers, spend time figuring out what kind of data you need to gather to prove or disprove your hypothesis. Taking time to make samples of the kinds of graphs or data tables that you hope to produce will help you understand what information you need to collect. After making these samples, make a list of the kinds of data that you need to gather (e.g., height, age, color-preference, weight, etc.). Using the list of relevant data points, you can write questions for your survey that will help you gather the right kinds of data. As you work on your survey and design your project, be sure to consult the following important Science Buddies resources:

Projects for the People

The following science projects from the Science Buddies directory of project ideas involve a survey component. If you are considering your own topic, looking at the procedures for these project ideas can help you construct your own independent survey-based science project.

2 Comments

The projects are fun,but they should give some examples of hypothisis!!!!!!!

Thank you for your comment. Coming up with a strong hypothesis is, of course, part of the steps you work through doing a science project. We don't provide the hypothesis for any of our Project Ideas since it's important for students to derive their own hypothesis around which they formulate their project. We do have a number of resources on the Science Buddies' website, however, that show examples of hypothesis statements. You can find examples and links to our resources in this blog entry: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/blog/2010/02/a-strong-hypothesis.php

Good luck!
Science Buddies

thumbnail
A few year ago, Laura did a science project on bacteria and water bottles. Today, she is a finalist in a global challenge and encouraging other girls to get excited about STEM!

thumbnail
You like your gelatin desserts solid and jiggly but not runny, right? A kitchen chemistry experiment reveals why certain gelatin and fruit combinations might appear at a potluck or picnic and not others. For this student and her family, the...

thumbnail
Egg science comes over-easy this time of year. Whether you are boiling eggs, dyeing eggs, or both, there are easy questions you can ask with your kids to turn the activity into a hands-on science experiment that everyone will enjoy....

thumbnail
This great guide and collection of family-friendly activities lets kids explore the history of robotics and put robotics engineering concepts to use with hands-on projects at home. Introduce Students to Robotics Engineering Robotics: DISCOVER THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY OF THE...

thumbnail
School and family science weekly spotlight: floating eggs.

thumbnail
There was no singular moment of Big Data Bang, but we are living in and heading towards a time of seemingly endless and exponential data explosion—and the race to create solutions and strategies to help tame, store, organize, and make...



Your Science!
What will you explore for your science project this year? What is your favorite classroom science activity? Email us a short (one to three sentences) summary of your science project or teaching tip. You might end up featured in an upcoming Science Buddies newsletter!


Help With Your Science Project

The following popular posts are designed to help students at critical stages of the science project process.


You may print and distribute up to 200 copies of this document annually, at no charge, for personal and classroom educational use. When printing this document, you may NOT modify it in any way. For any other use, please contact Science Buddies.