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Investigation: Conduct Background Research

Once students have a testable question, it is important to do some background research. What do scientists think they already know about the topic? What are the processes involved and how do they work? Background research can be gathered first hand from primary sources such as interviews with a teacher, scientist at a local university, or other person with specialized knowledge. Or students can use secondary sources such as books, magazines, journals, newspapers, online documents, or literature from non-profit organizations. Don’t forget to make a record of any resource used so that credit can be given in a bibliography.

Gathering Background Research

  • Helps students gain in depth knowledge about the topic and processes they will be observing during the investigation.
  • Sparks ideas about different variables to test when setting up the investigation.
  • Provides the basis for predicting what will happen in the investigation when making a hypothesis.
  • Provides the understanding needed to interpret and explain the results to others –especially a science fair judge!