Tag Archives: research

A Student Research Journal

I’ve just published the second volume of Three Stars, a journal of student research that I created and edit. My goal is to create a forum for students to share their investigations with the broader school community, to take pride in their scientific work, and to encourage students to try going to the next level with their science projects.

I had originally planned to publish twice annually, but since we’re a small school there really hasn’t been enough work in the autumn. I rely on a few of our students’ Group 4 (integrated sciences) projects, which take the form of single-page “letters”. Longer “papers” are derived from lab reports, the extended essay, and other internal assessments. If you don’t know what these things are, you’re probably not an IB teacher, but it doesn’t matter: they are all science-y projects.

When I first created the journal, I ran into some conflicting ideas about what the publication should be. The English teacher thought it might be partly a literary magazine and feature creative writing, for example, and I’ve yet to convince any of our humanities teachers to encourage their students to submit work. Currently, we’ve published physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, computer science, and mathematics — that feels about right.

Probably the most difficult part is getting the student work, which usually consists of awkwardly-written prose in a specific hard-to-parse format, into a shape that looks and scans well. I’ve adopted stylistics similar to those of Nature, and I think the result looks quite good. It’s certainly more approachable than APA or MLA… although since our middle school is adopting an MLA use policy, I might need to start using MLA-style citations in the next volume.

Once I’ve compiled, formatted, and copy-edited everything, I go to a local printer and have a couple dozen copies run off in booklet form. I try to get a nice picture (either student artwork, or science-related photography) for the cover. I registered the journal with the international organization that does such things, and so we have an official ISSN, although I haven’t created the appropriate barcode yet.

You can see an electronic copy of the journal on its web site or, if you’re at my school, there should be a copy at the front desk to peruse.

A Simplified FCI for ELLs

The Force Concept Inventory (FCI) is a test designed to assess a student’s ability to think “Newtonially”. Unfortunately, it’s written with a lot of physics jargon, and it is tough for English Language Learners (ELLs) to understand the questions. I wanted to see whether a simplified version of the FCI would give different results than the FCI, when administered to a group of ELLs.

Here’s the paper.