COMPETITION GUIDELINES for MSSS 2017
PROJECT TYPES: There are three kinds of projects:
- Research/Descriptions: are descriptive only but involve scientific discipline in the collection and presentation of phenomena. An example from previous years might be “The Life Cycle of Volcanoes”. More usually, research/description projects are common to the earlier grades.
- Experiments: involve scientific testing…hypothesis, collection of data, analysis and conclusions. An example from previous years might be “Which Golf Ball ‘Hits’ the Farthest” with five different kinds of golf balls tested for bounce. Grades 7 to 9 typically submit experiments.
- Innovation: goes a step further and leads to new discoveries and even new products. An example from previous years might be “A Prosthetic Hand That ‘Feels’ Hot and Cold”.
PROJECT LANGUAGE: Projects can be presented in either English or French. During registration you will need to select your preferred judging language.
SELECTION OF TOPICS: Students are well advised to read current information in books and journals before the final selection of their topic. Projects should include: data obtained from the students own experiments, quotation of errors and the possible causes in the results, a conclusion drawn from the experiments, a good write-up and the display of the work.
CATEGORIES OF PROJECTS: There are seven categories of projects…
Animal Science: This category includes projects on animals and animal life. For example:
- Animal behavior: Studies of animal interactions with other animals and the environment.
- Cellular biology: Studies of cell structure and cellular activity such as enzymes, cellular biochemistry and DNA, RNA and protein synthesis pathways.
Health & Biotechnology: This category includes projects that address issues of human health and the diagnosis, treatment or epidemiology of disease. For example:
- Nutrition: Studies of how biological or chemical agents effect health.
- Pathophysiology: Studies that investigate mechanisms involved in maintaining health or that, when disrupted, cause disease.
Plant Science: This category includes projects on plants and plant cultivation. For example:
- Agriculture: Studies of soil, plants and crops including pest control and fertilizers.
- Genetics: Studies of plant population genetics, the application of biotechnology to crop improvement and genetically modified organisms.
Social Science: This category includes projects on the thought process and behavior of animals. For example:
- Psychology: Studies of the processes that underlie behaviors such as thinking, learning, memory, language, perception and emotion.
- Sociology: Studies of human social behavior and group activities involving economics, politics and religion.
Chemistry: This category includes projects that explore the structure, properties and reactions of matter. For example:
- Analytical chemistry: Studies of the separation, identification and quantification of components of materials.
- Physical chemistry: Studies of chemical systems and processes such as kinetics, thermodynamics, electrochemistry and spectroscopy.
Engineering & Physics – This category includes projects involving the application of science to real world problems. For example:
- Robotics/Mechanical: design, development and testing of robots, devices, apparatus and mechanisms, including (but not limited to)
- Structures or Materials: testing, evaluation or development of materials or structures.
- Thermofluids: study of fluid flow, aircraft, or thermal processes.
- Computer Engineering: development of software, hardware or control systems.
- Physics: application or research on the fundamental scientific principles of light, matter, optics, etc…
Environmental Science: This category includes projects on the environment and Earth systems including water, land and air. For example:
- Atmosphere science: Studies of air quality and pollution, meteorology and the effects of the atmosphere on other Earth systems.
- Geoscience: Studies of land, minerals and fossils.
- Water science: Studies of water quality and pollution, water resources and the effects of water on other Earth systems.
Judges are usually assigned projects from the category that they are experienced in so it is important that students indicate the category that they are most comfortable with.
BACKBOARD: Backboard may be obtained from Staples and Office Depot. Boards are 3 feet high and two feet across with folder over wings either side of one foot by three feet.
Some students put extensions upwards on their backboards but students cannot put extension sideways on their backboards as they are only allocated four to five feet of space on the tables. Space in front of the backboard can be used as a demonstration area.
Graphics and picture displays are important to your backboard presentation; also neatness and logical flow of ideas.
LOGBOOKS: Logbooks are an important record of research and testing. As judges preview the projects on Friday evening prior to their interviewing students on Saturday, logbooks can be a useful tool to communicate with the judges prior to the interview ie to reflect organizational ability and scientific discipline.
The new science curriculum has a diagram that may be helpful in laying out the content of the logbook and the flow of the backboards.
PROJECT SUMMARY/REPORT (Adapted from the YSF Project Report Guidelines):
The Project Report is a 5-page document that presents your project to the judges in written form.
The Project Report should be a summary of your project, not a copy of your display, which focuses on your data and results. A complete Project Report includes:
- Background, Purpose and Hypothesis: why the project was done and what you hoped to achieve.
- Procedure: a very brief outline of the significant materials and methods used.
- Results/Observations and Conclusions: a summary of your results and an explanation of how and why they are important;
- Acknowledgements: recognition of those individuals, institutions and businesses that provided significant assistance in the form of guidance, materials, financial support or facilities;
- References: key references used in the development of your project. Quotations and sources cited within your Report must be listed.
- Proof of Requirements: as specified by Youth Science Canada (YSC) ethics or safety policy. Further information on the YSC ethics policies can be found here: http://ethics.youthscience.ca/
- Changes to a continued project: If an earlier version of the project was entered in a previous year, the finalist must highlight the changes or modifications made.
- Bibliography: To be included as an appendix, is mandatory:
- Significant sources consulted must be mentioned (volumes, articles, audio-visual, documents, web sites, interviews, etc.). Quotations and sources within the report must be clearly identified.
A full printed bibliography should be available to the judges at your project: All sources consulted must be mentioned (volumes, articles, audio-visual, documents, web sites, interviews, etc.).
The following specifications ensure that your Project Report is legible, that all national finalists have an equal amount of space in the Report to describe their project and that the judges have a consistent, legible format to read. Judges may penalize a project (up to 10%) for a report that does not adhere to the specifications:
- A maximum of five letter-sized (8.5” x 11″) pages in an approved digital format. Graphs, diagrams and charts may be included, but no raw data or observations. Appendices beyond the 5-page limit, other than the mandatory bibliography, are not acceptable and will not be distributed to judges.
- Text must be in 12 point Times, Arial or equivalent type, double-spaced with margins of 1 inch (2.5 cm) all around.
- Page 1 must have the Project Title and finalist name(s) at the top.
- A footer in 8 point type that appears on each page listing the date, finalist name(s) and project title as well as the page number (e.g., 15 April 2005 John Doe: The Generic Project Page 1 of 5) is required.
ORAL PRESENTATION: As you complete your conclusion and paste the last diagram on the board, there is still the most essential preparation yet to make for the competition. This is preparing your speech for the judging.
The most important thing you should know is that you have approximately seven to ten minutes to explain the entire project. Some students don’t expect this and end up forgetting to explain the major details. This can be consequential to your judging. Another significant point is to know your topic. The judges will be determining how much you know. It is beneficial to prepare answers to questions you think the judges might ask. This way, you won’t be confronted with questions you can’t answer.
Once you have prepared your speech, it is worthwhile to practice in front of a mirror, your family, or a friend. This rehearsal helps to relieve nervousness when you are actually being judged. If you have had practice, you will be more comfortable with your speech and you will make fewer, if any, mistakes.
Since you have put much time and effort into your project, it is worth your while to take some time for preparations. It will help considerably because no matter how good your project is, the judging is a critical part of the competition.
Science Projects by individual participants – $35
Science Projects by groups of students (presently limited to 2 students only) – $35 per participant