The Scientific Research Paper: A Vehicle for Demonstrating Relevancy at the Elementary Level

This unit was developed by Dr. Lawrence D. Woolf

A scientific paper can help bring relevancy to a number of concepts that are taught at the elementary school level. First, showing an elementary school student a scientific research paper shows them that their science lab reports are very similar in nature to a real science report. The basic structures are the same. Second, the scientific research paper shows that many disciplines are involved in performing science research, not just science. Finally, the student may be interested to actually see what a real scientific paper looks like - it may provide motivation.

The Similarity Of A Published Scientific Research Paper To An Elementary School Lab Report

The attached scientific papers (not shown here), or any others that can be obtained at a university science library can be used to demonstrate that a scientific paper is very similar to the lab reports written by elementary school students. The scientific paper begins with a title and list of authors. Next follows a short summary or abstract of the work. The paper is organized into different sections. Generally they begin with an introduction which provides some background about the topic and justification or rationale for the research being reported. It also includes the question or topic that is to be addressed or answered by the research. Next, the experimental techniques are described for an experimental paper or the equations are developed for a theoretical paper. Next the results of the work are described in words, graphs or tables. The results section is followed by a discussion section which interprets and analyzes the results so that the question posed at the beginning of the paper is answered. The paper concludes with a summary or conclusions section, which describes the most important results of the paper. Generally a paper then has a short acknowledgments section which thanks the organization which supported the research and other people with whom the scientist discussed the work. Finally the references section lists the other scientific papers that were referenced in the paper that are used to describe the previous history of research in the area or to lend credence to a theory or argument proposed in the paper.

Many Disciplines Are Involved In Doing Science

The attached scientific papers show that a practicing scientist must know more than just science. They must know language skills such as how to write about what they did, write a summary and organize their work. They must understand math and be able to perform mathematics and make graphs and tables. Proficiency in the use of computers is important, since they often collect data, develop theoretical models and communicate their results using computers. As indicated by the references list, a scientist must be able to read other people's work with comprehension. Researching skills, as are done in social studies, are also used, such as when a scientist is trying to find published articles relevant to his research area. The acknowledgments section indicates that it is important to thank those that help you. It also indicates that interpersonal skills, such as discussing topics with your peers, is very important. Many times, scientists will present their results by giving a presentation at a conference, which is similar to a student giving an oral report.

Many Disciplines Are Involved In Other Professions

Other professions also involve many disciplines. For example, suppose that a student is interested in art and asks why they must learn about English, science or math. Let us assume that the student likes to work with clay and wants to make clay figurines for their profession. A knowledge of the math will be needed to figure out pricing of the art work (and to balance their checkbook and understand discounts). If the ceramics are fired in a kiln, they will require an understanding of measuring and controlling temperature, heating, and processing of materials - which is science. They must understand how to write in order to write sales and marketing brochures. Finally, they must have good interpersonal skills in order to successfully interact with their customers.