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CHRISTOPHER - FINDING MY WAY: RESEARCH

Summer is starting to come to an end, but I could not have asked for a better summer. I am really enjoying my summer mentorship and am grateful to have a mentor as helpful and supportive as Dr. Moran, my mentor.

When I am working on a project there are many challenges.  Some of these challenges are associated with the research I am performing.  The first challenge is to find information that either seems immediately useful or spark ideas.  Sometimes it is difficult to find any information on uncommon topics or topics that are very new.  The other side of research is finding too much information and figuring out a way to sift through the information.  Another problem is determining whether any information I find is accurate.  I look at the information source, judge the accuracy of information I am familiar with, and sometimes make educated guesses.   This is very important because it could have a big impact on my choices or design but of all the challenges, I think the most difficult is trying to understand the information.  When I run into a topic I am unfamiliar with, I try to learn as fast as I can but in some cases, I don’t have enough science or math background to be able to understand the information in a reasonable amount of time.  I typically look for other articles or find people that might be able to help.  I am just entering high school and will be taking science classes and participating in the schools science programs.  I can definitely see the value of the education and know it will help me greatly in the future.

If the problem is not very complicated or in some cases if the scientist is very knowledgeable, it could be solved without research.  I believe any complicated problem requires research to solve. Research allows you to gather information, learn new concepts, help generate ideas and become aware what has already been done.  Research is the fuel that keeps the project going and helps you get to your destination.

One of the first and most important activities for a science project is the research.  I could be performing research to help decide whether to do a project or I may have a project idea that I want to attempt and in both cases, research is critical from the beginning.  The research helps to create a sort of roadmap for tasks that need to be done in order to solve the problem.  In the beginning of the project, I try to identify the important parts of the project that need to be solved and my initial research is focused on seeing if it has been attempted before, the approaches that others have attempted and the problems that they encountered.  I then try to determine if the project is possible.  Once I get to this point, I start working on the tasks that I identified during the initial research phase.

I think that the more complex the project, the more important it is to be organized.  It is necessary to keep track of all the information you find.  If you don’t have it organized, you could waste a lot of time finding the information or you could make mistakes because the information is not available.  Organization also helps to keep track of the project which includes what has been accomplished, a list of problems that are outstanding and the tasks that need to be performed to solve the problems.  To accomplish the tasks, you may be dependent on other people or may be ordering supplies and it helps to keep a schedule of what has to be done, what has been done and when things will be available.  It also helps to give yourself the best chance to finish the project in time.  Finally, organization is important so that a scientist can present and communicate their ideas with other people.

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