Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:54 am
Occupation: Student: College

Need Help With the First Step?

Postby au36 » Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:27 pm

I am conducting a experiment/research project for my class and I do not know how to start it. Let me explain, I want to test different soils or fertilizers that will effect the grow rate for a pea plant and I know that I need to have variables but I don't know if it is the soil or fertilizer. First of all I don't what kind for fertilizer or soil I need to go but because I want to go about this correctly and I don't want to go and waste money on materiel that I will not need. Please help.

Posts: 1954
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:00 am
Occupation: Retired molecular biologist, university researcher and teacher

Re: Need Help With the First Step?

Postby SciB » Mon Mar 02, 2015 12:39 pm


The first step in a science project is to ask a question. What do want to know that has not been studied before. Plant soil and fertilizer requirements are pretty well completely known. A good project centers on something that is not known but may be important.

For example, there's a lot of research now on microbiomes (, the ecosystems of bacteria and fungi that live on us, in the soil, the water and even the air. Scientists are learning that plants are much more dependent on the soil microbes for nutrients than was thought in the past. If you wanted to test how important a healthy soil is for plant growth you could gather several different types of soil--for example, from natural places in the woods, from an organic garden, from a compost pile, and from a lawn that is maintained with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. As a control you could use a sterile potting soil that you can get from any home supply store. Plant pea or bean seeds (make sure you get seeds that have NOT been treated with legume inoculant-- in the different soils and compare the plant growth with all other conditions--light, water, temperature--being equal.

This was just a potential idea. Feel free to pick whatever subject that interests YOU, just try to make it a new and different question to study. Be creative! It's more fun.

Post back to this same thread to let us know what you decided and if you have questions.

Good luck!


Posts: 76
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2008 3:45 pm
Occupation: homeschooling parent

Re: Need Help With the First Step?

Postby janet41 » Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:13 pm

I would like to add: You should probably rethink your assumptions if think you can do a science fair project with perfect efficiency, with no "wasted" time or materials. Part of a good science project is starting with initial ideas and testing and refining them before you have a final procedure.

The example I always use with my kids is the show Mythbusters. When they are testing a big myth, you will always see them doing some "bench tests," to see if what they think is supposed to happen actually does. So, before they drop the 200 pound dummy, they might try a small scale test with a doll. It's a good idea to do some practice runs that give you ideas and insights into your problem before you finalize the experiment that you actually turn in.

Return to “Grades 9-12: Life, Earth, and Social Sciences”