Physical Science Independent Research Project

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This resource is an excellent opportunity to provide a differentiation option that challenges the upper level students in your physical science course.  It includes everything you need to administer semester-long or yearlong independent physical science research projects in your physical science class. It is a perfect way to differentiate your instruction by providing more advanced students with this project-based challenge. Teachers can assign students a topic from the list of 15 suggested driving questions, let students pick from the list, or let them design a project around their own question. This resource has all of the support documents you need to bring structure to using a PBL-style assessment over the course of a semester or yearlong class – plus editable versions of all student handouts!


*NOTE* Do not purchase if you have already purchased my Physical Science Curriculum Bundle, because you already have this product!!


What is included?

  • 14 pages of teacher implementation notes (PDF), including:
    • Step-by-step walk through for the entire process and the rationale behind it
    • 15 unique driving questions that require students to make connections throughout an entire year (or semester) of physical science content. Students can use this list for their projects or come up with their own question to research.
    • Pacing guides for implementing over a yearlong or semester-long period
    • Guidelines for how to check in with and support students as they work independently (all year or all semester)
    • Grading guidelines
    • Suggestions for three additions to the project to make it fully qualify as Project Based Learning (PBL)
  • 20 pages of student handouts (PDF), including:
    • Project overview and completion checklist
    • Rubrics
    • Peer evaluation, feedback, and reflection forms
    • Planning pages
    • Progress check-ins
    • Final reflection
  • Folder of editable versions of ALL student handouts (.pptx and .docx)


How can I use this?

  • This was designed as a yearlong (or semester-long) extension project for advanced students to do outside of class to really reinforce:
    • Real world application of everything covered in your physical science class
    • The connections between all of the content you cover
  • However, it can also be adapted and used entirely in class, as a partner or group project, or as a PBL-style final assessment for your course


What do you mean by “PBL-style”?

I have always LOVED so many of the characteristics of PBL (Project Based Learning). I especially love the emphasis on student voice and choice, student autonomy, and the value of the investigative process to create products that communicate an answer to the original essential/driving question.


However, this resource isn’t 100% true to PBL in that the focus is more on the long-term nature of investigating the topic independently, rather than working collaboratively with peers to learn about a unit through the completion of a project. You will see throughout the pages in the resource where I have pulled in my favorite components from PBL to create my vision for these independent research projects, but know that this resource wasn’t designed to be 100% PBL. However, I have included a list of suggestions for a few changes you can make (and additional rubrics you can use) to make it truly qualify as PBL.


Why should I use this product in my classroom?

I love so many things about projects and specifically PBL, but especially that PBL is student-led, multidisciplinary, and relevant. I love how PBL incorporates student choice, community relevance, and communicating findings of the learning process through multiple products.


Why? Because this type of learning engages students and gives them essential practice with critical skills they will use their entire lives, including: researching, synthesizing ideas, asking questions, collaborating, revising, managing time, project planning, making community and cross-curricular connections, varying communication formats, and reflecting.


**If you’ve been looking for a different way to summatively assess your students at the end of the year, or a way to challenge students to see the relevance and interconnectedness of topics covered in physical science throughout the year, this resource is for you.**


When should I use this with my students?

These projects are designed to get students to spend the entire time they are in your course making connections between what they are learning in class and what they are researching for their project at home. The projects require a significant amount of student time and research to fully complete them. Because of this, I would introduce the project at the beginning of the year, do regular check-ins with students throughout the year, and culminate the year with student presentations of their products. I include check-in sheets (in printable and paperless digital Google Form formats) to support you in doing this. Additionally, I include pacing guides for how to implement these projects over the course of a semester or a full school year in order to best meet you and your students’ needs.


Does this have to be completed outside of class?

No! While it was designed to be an independent research project, I include suggestions for how to integrate it within your class, if you have the time to do so. Note: If you decide to make this a partner or group project, I highly encourage you to build in class-time so that students don’t have the burden of having to coordinate time to get together outside of school.


What if I want more?

I have this same resource for chemistry, biology and anatomy. However, I do want you to be aware that nearly the entire resource is the same for all four subjects, with exception of the 15 driving questions included within each, as they are specific to the subject area. If interested, you can check them out here:


What if I have a question?

Email me at itsnotrocketsciencestore@gmail.com – I’d love to answer any questions you have!


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You may:

  • Use this item for your own classroom, students, or for your own personal use.
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  • Upload this product to any unsecured website or server that other teachers can access for free.
  • Give this product to others without the purchase of an additional license for them (this includes emailing, printing copies, or sharing through a website, cloud or other network.)
  • Copy or modify any part of this document to offer others for free or for sale.
  • Use the resources for commercial use, such as teaching a course on Outschool or a similar platform using these resources.

Physical Science Independent Research Project

Buy the full year curriculum and save!