Fall 2017 *STAR* Projects

Congratulations to Fall 2017 Star Project award-winning teams!

Sharing information and ideas to improve thinking for all is a very important part of science. In this section, we highlight a few exemplary research projects. We profile student teams at each age level whose overall research was strong, and who did an exceptional job at one or more aspects of science research and communication. The Star Projects listed on this page highlight some of the best projects nominated by our scientist mentors and teachers. Take a look at the hard work middle and high school students are doing around the world!

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Team Name Why is it a STAR project? How can other teams learn from what this team has done? School Category(ies) Nominated by:

gehsbeardsleyfall2017 project 2

This team consistently shared enthusiastic updates about the progress of their experiment and seemed to genuinely care about understanding the plant growth differences between their phyB mutant plants and control groups. In addition, they uploaded photos of their experiment on a nearly daily basis and implemented all recommendations given by their advisor for statistical analysis and graphical representation of their data. Other teams would benefit by taking such thorough, consistent data and photographic documentation for the entire duration of the experiment like this team has done. They would also do well by following this team's example of utilizing the insight and expertise provided by their mentor to learn as much as possible about plant physiology and experimental design. Glenbard East High School Planning Your Study, Doing Investigations, Making Sense of Findings, Making Presentations, Online Communication Elizabeth Stunz, Scientist Liaison


The students considered their results in relation to their original hypothesis and linked their experiment to background information on the role of phosphorus in harmful algal blooms. This team chose to investigate something that was related to a real-world problem: excess phosphorus-containing compounds in water bodies can cause harmful algal blooms. They choose to test the effects of laundry detergent, which contains phosphates, on the growth of grass seeds. They described their experimental design well, shared nice photos of their work, and tried to relate their results back to their original hypothesis. South Point High School Making Sense of Findings Julia Chapman, Scientist Liaison/Mentor

Team SAM

Overall just excellent guidance, communication and support on the part of the mentor for this group, Cari Ritzenthaler. In almost all cases, Cari replied to her team in record speed - often 15-30 minutes after they posted! This attention not only allowed the project team members to be able to rapidly respond and identify potential sources of error or problems in their experimental design, but also really made the team feel like they were receiving positive, constructive support and guidance from their mentor - as can be evidenced by the gratitude these team members expressed to Cari. From the team side, students responded quickly to Cari's advice, but more importantly the team provided regular updates to show their experiment set up (photos), provided helpful experimental design information, and just did an excellent job updating their project. Team SAM provided regular updates and constant communication with their mentor. They were receptive to advice from their project mentor and made adjustments to their experiment as necessary. Team members provided excellent photographs of their experimental set up that allowed their mentor to understand the project and provide their best advice. Team members noticed some of their treatments were drying up and decided to start adding more water, checking with their mentor to be sure they didn't alter the conditions too much. Despite no growth from their seeds, the team remained positive and seem to have learned a lot! It just goes to show, experiments don't always go as planned, but despite this, you can still learn a lot about your study organism! Wright State University Doing Investigations, Making Sense of Findings, Online Communication, Recording Your Ideas Morgan Gostel, Scientist Liaison

esdgallofall2017 project 2

The group did a fantastic job communicating with their mentor and providing excellent detail for their procedure and results. They were very detailed in describing their activities, so that the mentor could fully understand their project. They actively participated in the forum and produced detailed results. The Episcopal School of Dallas Planning Your Study, Doing Investigations, Online Communication, Recording Your Ideas Amanda Tracey, Scientist Liaison

phswcrogersfall2017 project 2

This team demonstrated excellence in many aspects of their project. This team had the most communication with their mentor, incorporated his ideas and help into their project, and were the only team to have actually uploaded their student presentation for feedback. This team is an awesome example of what to do over the course of your projects. This team was actively engaged in communication with their mentor from the word "hello," and each member had something unique to say nearly each week through the project's end. It was also evident that the students actually used the good advice of the mentor to direct their experimental design and understanding their data. Finally, this group made sure - the only group that did so in this class - to post their presentation for the mentor to look at and give feedback on. If you want to get the most out of this experience, follow in the footsteps of this group! Paramount High School West Planning Your Study, Making Presentations, Online Communication, Recording Your Ideas Steven Callen, Scientist Liaison

The Win(sto)ning Team

This team did an excellent job with all aspects of our introduction to research project with planting science. I was especially impressed with their attention to detail with respect to data collection and the relatively large number of samples that they used in their study. The part that I most want to share with other students and educators was best summed up by their mentor, Johnathan, who messaged them, "It makes me smile that you have stated that your prediction was wrong and that the plants with humidity may not grow as well as plants without humidity. You would be surprised how many people at every stage of a science career don't have the courage to say that their prediction was wrong."   High Technology High School Making Sense of Findings
  • Michael Roche, Teacher
  • Steven Callen, Liaison


The students had a clear research question, made predictions and made a focused research effort. Their experiment worked nicely! Ducks29 had a clear goal: make a celery curl. They researched how they could achieve the goal and they made an experiment. And succeeded! I especially liked that they provided evidence by posting a picture of the curled celery, as real scientists do! Ben Hill Middle School Planning Your Study, Doing Investigations Agustina Ventre, Scientist Mentor

radical radishes

The team is enthusiastic about improving their experimental design. Other teams can learn about the iterative nature of science from this group. They are still early in their investigation planning, but are making an effort to think through the possibilities, and make modifications, with the help of their mentor. Fair Lawn High School Planning Your Study Laura Super, Scientist Liaison

phswcrogersfall2017 project 0

This is the only team in this class that has completely filled out their information on the Info page. Early on in the semester, the team was actively engaged in discussing their ideas for experiments and science concepts with their mentor. Towards the end of the project, the team fell behind in having direct communication every week with their mentor; however, a student representative in this group made sure to continue to update each section of the Info page to let the mentor know what was happening. There are multiple ways students can keep their mentors updated with their project. This team was actively engaged early on with their mentor, who helped them clarify their ideas and addressed their misconceptions, but they seemed to have enough direction and went on with their experiment. This did not mean that communication halted. Rather, the students made sure to keep the mentor up to date by filling in each section of the Info page. Thus, just because students may not have enough internet time or access to chat with their mentor on the discussion board, they can be sure to let the mentor know what is going on through other means. Paramount High School West Recording Your Ideas Steven Callen, Scientist Liaison

Group Name

Students carefully made observations and later effectively explained the results of the experiments. Then, they had the results connected to existing scientific theory, as well as appropriately suggested alternative explanations for the unexpected results. This team, following great feedback from the mentor, carefully planned out the research. Yet, their results were not in line with the hypothesis, which is not uncommon in Sciences. And with the careful observations they made, they were able to support their conclusion with concrete evidence, as well as propose some alternative explanations for their findings! Plan well, observe carefully, and enjoy Science! Great example from MVHS Hawthorne period 1 group 6! Mountain View High School Planning Your Study, Doing Investigations, Making Sense of Findings Pornpipat Kasemsap, Scientist Liaison

Team 6

The students did not give up when they had some difficulty with their procedure. They worked together as a team to find solutions and discussed issues with their mentor. The students put a lot of effort into analyzing their results, discussing them with their mentor and came up with some good ideas for continuing their research. Smithtown High School West Planning Your Study, Doing Investigations, Making Sense of Findings, Making Presentations, Online Communication Barbara Zemcik, Teacher

Period 4 Group 1

The experiment failed, as students may think when they could not collect any data. But the fact that they did come up with some sensible explanations mean that they did learn something useful! Failure is a just a step closer to success! Although this team unfortunately could not obtain any data from the experiment, they did a great job trying to explain what happened using their observations, and especially propose what could be done in further studies to deepen understanding about their topic of interest! Learn from the mistakes! Mountain View High School Making Sense of Findings Pornpipat Kasemsap, Scientist Liaison

Parasite Procrastinators

This team chose to design an investigation to determine the effectiveness of a commercial horticultural product vs. a DIY home remedy for ridding one of our large classroom plant specimens from an infestation of brown soft scale insects. Their strategy for keeping track of the amount of "honeydew" product dropping from the infested and treated leaves was a most creative way of indirectly quantifying the amount of scale activity occurring on various parts of the plant.   High Technology High School Making Sense of Findings Michael Roche, Teacher

Alpha Echo Zulu

It was well assembled, and well explained with clear, concise grammar. Just do your best, and be innovative. :) Orillia Secondary School Doing Investigations Christina Scara-Dunlap, Scientist Mentor

Project 1

Very helpful input from the mentor The students describe their project and questions in a clear and concise manner. Also the students are always gracious and appreciative of the mentor. St. Joseph's Academy Making Sense of Findings, Online Communication Austin Lynn, Scientist Liaison

Look Through Previous Star Project Galleries:

Fall 2016 Star Projects Spring 2017 Star Projects Fall 2017 Star Projects
Spring 2018 Star Projects Fall 2018 Star Projects Spring 2019 Star Projects
Fall 2019 Star Projects Spring 2020 Star Projects Fall 2020 Star Projects
Spring 2021 Star Projects Fall 2021 Star Projects