Spring 2017 *STAR* Projects

Congratulations to Spring 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:

The Tree Musketeers

  • This group did an excellent job of using their mentor as a resource of knowledge. They had a great idea to test environmental conditions such as ideal, drought, and flood on seed germination. They worked with their mentor to come up with a solution on how to test these factors. The students worked hard to maintain controls in the experiment and they were detailed in collecting both qualitative and quantitative data.
  • They've been very active, and good at formulating questions for their project. They've consistently had good interactions with their mentor.
  • The Tree Musketeers started with an idea of testing how environmental conditions influence seed germination of soybeans. They did a great job of narrowing their experimental groups down to ideal, drought, and flood conditions. They did an excellent job of researching prior to set up of the lab and remaining in constant contact with their mentor throughout the project. Their collection of both qualitative and quantitative data was detailed and collected on a consistent basis.
  • How to keep moving when things change during an experiment.
Medford High School Planning Your Study, Doing Investigations, Online Communication
  • Nichole Schelling, Teacher
  • Daniel Clark, Mentor

The I Don't Know Group

Experimental Design The "I Don't Know" Group developed a good research question based on a topic that interested all of them -- acid rain. The experimental design included a test that used multiple seeds (replication) and multiple treatment levels (control, pH 4, and pH 2), and the prediction created multiple opportunities to take measurements so that if one measurement could not be collected, the experiment could still provide some other type of data. Most importantly, when the team had trouble germinating quinoa seeds, they didn't give up. They substituted radish seeds and were able to complete the experiment. Don't be fooled -- despite their name, this team DID know how to troubleshoot! Their work is a great example of this tricky scientific skill. Orillia Secondary School Planning your study, Online Communication Kal Tuominen, Mentor

The Dogg Pound

This team has consistently been AMAZING at communicating with their mentor, asking/answering questions, making thoughtful posts and generally have a great dynamic. Their mentor Carlos is extremely motivating and has been very good at conversing with the students. Overall they are definitely a power team! This team/project has been amazing at asking tons of wonderful questions. At the same time, this team also is incredibly great at taking advice and adapting their project to be the best that it can be. They take time to make really awesome posts to their mentor and in return have received some fantastic support. Overall, they have demonstrated how science can be made better by collaborating and show that there are new things to learn at every step! Orillia Secondary School Planning your study, Online Communication Victory Coffey, Mentor

Like Plants, We Wont Leaf You

This group clearly demonstrates that is possible to a sophisticated inquiry-based experiment with a large group in a general education setting. Group Like Plants, We Don’t Leaf You shows how to work together as a large class to develop and answer their own question experimentally. This group of 34 students came up with the question to investigate – do Fast Plants grow more hairs in response to wind – after watching a plant movie where it was incidentally mentioned that trichomes are common on plants which grow in windy environments. The experiment set-up was straight forward – grow the experiment group in front of a fan and the control in the same location shielded from the fan. The class was able to use its large size to an advantage by all the students growing enough plants to have statistically significant data. They clearly showed a quite a sophisticated result: stem color and leaf color are, in this case, solely the result of genes since the phenotype distribution was the same in our plants as was predicted by the dihybrid cross. However, the hair number is partially coded for by genes since the hairs increased 250% when grown in front of the fan. This group clearly demonstrates that is possible to a sophisticated inquiry-based experiment with a large group in a general education setting. Service High School Planning Your Study, Doing Investigations, Making Sense of Results Dan Maclean, Teacher


The team did a wonderful job of being focused on the task at hand each day during the PScience project. The team did a wonderful job of completing all of the questions on the team information page that describes their work. Communicating your lab results is just as important as your actual lab research. This team did a wonderful job of communicating all aspects of their inquiry lab on the topic of seed germination on their team information page. St. Sebastian Junior High Planning Your Study, Doing Investigations, Making Sense of Results Betty Indriolo, Teacher

Crazy Coconuts

  • This team has shown remarkable enthusiasm and have had some excellent dialogues with their mentor. They have done a great job with plant care, measurements and communicating their findings.
  • This team has done a thorough job of documenting qualitative and quantitative observations in their journals. In particular, this group was very conscientious about careful measurements of plant growth and temperature. They have also created graphs that are easy to read and show the differences in plant growth clearly, and the group was able to come up with several explanations for what they observed during the course of this experiment.
  • So many things. This group was great at communicating with me (scientist mentor), demonstrated flexibility and creativity in their experimental design, and critically thought about their results and how they could apply them to agronomy.
  • This team demonstrated what it's truly like to be research scientists. They started with an observation and interests in certain aspects of agronomy that led them to present testable questions for research; this led them to identify a problem and they began brainstorming on how they could set up their experiment; using advice from their mentor, they created indoor experimental greenhouses in which they planted their radishes; they monitored the growth of the plants under different temperatures, and they had to quickly adapt when unforeseen issues occurred during the experiment; finally, though their results were different than they expected, they were able to draw conclusions from their data and apply them to the "real world." Overall, this group is a fine example of what a research scientist does: observe, adapt, be creative, analyze data, draw conclusions, and, importantly, communicate.
Nottingham Elementary (7th Grade) Doing Investigations, Online Communication, Making Presentations
  • Rebecca Buzzell, Teacher
  • Steven Callen, Liaison

Team 7

Students shared their work with their mentor each week several times. they became confident in working so much that they shared not just the planting science but were asking questions about the rest of their course (fish migration) work as well. This may seem off task but the mentor guided them back to relating habitats and plants in that habitat. Students began to realize that scientists share their work with peers in order to improve studies and to inform society. Looking at these postings will help students and teachers understand that the practice of science opens many avenues to understanding the natural world. Global Learning Charter Public School Doing Investigations, Making Sense of Results, Online Communication Diana Cost, Teacher


This team wanted to test respiration at different temperatures and used a unique set-up with BTB to measure color change and relative rates of CO2 production. They interacted well with their mentors and did well interpreting their results.   Jefferson City High School Doing Investigations Susan Saracini-Cram, Teacher

Science Squad

Of all my teams this team was the most complete and thorough. They completed all the requirements of the project and were leaders in helping other students learn how to post pictures on the new team page sites. The best part of the Science Squad's Investigation is their use of data in their conclusion and their use of reasoning to make sense of what what they discovered. I also think this team did a great job interacting with their mentor. Of course, interacting with a mentor goes both ways and so I think that Cari Ritzenthaler should get a Star Mentor Award too! Marion Jr./Sr. High School Making sense of findings Jason Keeler, Teacher

Queen Beans

The time that the students took in planning their set up and procedure for this lab was most impressive. They were very detailed in collecting data and even asked to run a second trial with changes that they felt were necessary after completing the first trial. Every individual student in the group clearly understood what the goal of their research was and played a key role in the process. The Queen Beans have modeled all of the important parts of a Star Project in their Wonder of Seeds research. They have worked well as a team and assigned roles to each individual in the group. They spent a great deal of time designing the set up and engineering the set up for their project. They created multiple boxes with various filters of light in order to investigate how different light affects germination rate. They maintained regular contact with their mentor and even had time to run a second trial and made changes that they learned from their first trial. Medford High School Making Sense of Findings, Doing Investigations Nichole Schelling, Teacher

The Magnificent Melons

These students were a part of the Agronomy Feeds the World module, and their research question integrated the concepts presented in the module introduction, the information from a presentation given by a scientist, and reasoning for how their results could be applicable to farmers. They were originally interested in trying to get two different plants to grow close together and become one, trying to apply their knowledge of grafting. As their project progressed, however, they realized this concept would not work, but that their experiment was really about plant competition (ecological concepts) and intercropping (agronomic concepts). I find this project to be highly creative and goes beyond simple manipulations to see which plant would grow better. The Magnificent Melons developed a unique project based on the concepts of intercropping and plant competition. They achieved the goal of the Agronomy Feeds the World module by integrating their curiosity of making plants grow better with real-world agronomic applications. A farmer or gardener may be interested in how the team's mung beans grew in close proximity to corn vs how well each plant grew by themselves. Medford High School Innovation Kayla Griffith, Liaison

WSU Team 10

This team project effectively demonstrates the effectiveness of collaboration and communication when it comes to experiment design and implementation. This team was interested in the effect of soil amendments on spinach seed germination and growth. Prior to the start of the experiment, this team asked frequent questions in order to ensure their experiment would be as well set-up as their resources would allow. They developed a well thought out research question and hypothesis, posted updates frequently, asked engaging questions, and were very open to feedback from myself and the project liaison. WSU Team 10 completed their project with a very well-written conclusion and even provided a series of powerpoint slides as a means to communicate their findings and interpretations of their experiment data. WSU Team 10 was really exceptional with their communication throughout the project. All of the project components (research question, predictions, design, conclusion) on the project info page were very well-written and easy to read and follow. They responded quickly to my suggestions and also asked excellent questions to ensure their experiment was set-up properly. This team also provided numerous updates (including pictures and powerpoint slides) to communicate their progress and results. Wright State University Doing Investigations, Making Sense of Findings, Presenting Your Findings, Online Communications, Innovation Kelly Kerr, Mentor

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