IJAS Student Research Project Ideas

A student research opportunity is available for middle and high school students through a grant from the Toyota USA Foundation to the Institute for Earth Science Research and Education. Click on the button to learn more. IJAS students may apply for STARR Research Grants to assist with FESIRSE research projects.

Here is one idea with many research possibilities from the FESIRSE Program.

Dr. David Brooks, from the Institute for Earth Science Research and Education, suggests students use an interesting map about heat island effects from NASA's Earth Observatory site to develop research projects. See http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php.

It is especially interesting to compare the heat island map with a map of the US interstate highway system. Using these maps suggests interesting student research projects about local temperature measurements and how those measurements may or may not have been affected by the urbanization and construction of the interstate highway system (including otherwise undeveloped land), starting in the 1950s. NOAA historical weather data and 30-year climate normals (http://www.instesre.org/ClimateDataApplications.htm) are sources of data for such studies. It's a big country, with many opportunities for place-specific student research!

Be aware that some science fairs may not accept research projects using data not measured by the student.

Contact David Brooks directly at brooksdr@InstESRE.org for this and other research ideas.

Other Student Research Project Ideas

Biological Sciences

  1. Do native Iowa trees experience green down at the same time as introduced species? 
  2. Do trees under drought experience green down at a different time as trees which are not under drought conditions?
  3. Investigate the incidence of cavities in pre-school children who drink primarily un-fluoridated bottled water vs. those who drink primarily municipal tap water.

Earth Science and Climate Projects

Dr. David Brooks at Drexel University has a website dedicated to helping students develop research projects related to climate.  To see some of his suggestions visit the website: http://instesre.org/ and click on Projects and Activities. You may contact Dr. Brooks directly at: brooksdr@instesre.org  Dr. Brooks has experience working with middle and high school students in Iowa.  He is a great resource if you want to do a climate project.

Physical Sciences

  1. Energy input vs. energy output in the production of ethanol might be an eye-opener for students - and others.

Environmental Projects

  1. Use Landsat images to study change. See this activity: Quantifying Changes in the Land Over Time 

Example Projects

Collaboration: One project that a team of chemistry students had great success with in 1999 was a collaborative project they did with geology students from a neighboring HS. The geology students had collected soil samples from various places around mainland USA and Hawaii. After the students at the other HS collected their geology data they sent us the samples and the chemistry students tested the buffering capacity of each soil sample(16 samples in all). When the chemistry students had collected their data they published their results to the district web page.

Additional Resources

A.  Physics Equipment Needs:  If your school doesn't have some of the equipment you need to complete your project, then your teacher might be able to get access to the equipment through the Physics and Astronomy Equipment Donation Program  at the University of Iowa.  Check this website for details: http://www.uiowa.edu/~homepage/resources/listings/p/Phys_Astron_Eqmt.html