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Pupil Researcher Initiative (PRI) projects

by Kit
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The PRI was run by the Centre for Science Education at Sheffield Hallum University, becoming “Researchers in Residence” in 2003, and then in 2006 it was re-tendered by the research councils and taken on by Edinburgh University.

These projects (Pupil Research Briefs) were resources aimed at Secondary School (KS3) and developed to help achieve the aims of the PRI of raising the motivation and achievement of young people in science, by developing their scientific capability, creativity and key skills. They are designed as educational resources for schools, but depending on what you have access to there is no reason why their use should be limited to within schools.

Astro-Science

Learning about the massive rocks from space that have crashed into Earth a long time ago you will be given information that will help you assess the risk of such an event happening again. You will carry out experiments to estimate the damage such an impact will cause and make recommendations about what plans we should make to detect and track nearby massive objects in space to give us an early warning of danger.

Create a World Wide Web site which explains the science behind the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe. Starting with a set of ready-made pages, called the Starter Pack, you will research the information needed to produce links to other pages which you design.

As a member of the Planetary Research Team you have been asked to write an article for PRISM, the PRI journal, about the possibility of life existing in other parts of the Universe. A range of articles and papers on this topic are provided as useful background material for planning and writing the article

You will be carrying out research into meteors (‘shooting stars’). The STAR Centre at Sheffield Hallam University provides information to users of the World Wide Web about meteors. Your research findings can be sent to the STAR Centre to add to the data base.

You will be carrying out research into meteors (‘shooting stars’). The STAR Centre at Sheffield Hallam University provides information to users of the World Wide Web about meteors. Your research findings can be sent to the STAR Centre to add to the data base.

Produce materials for a talk and science trail exhibition on the topic of stars. The work you will do, taken all together, will cover the examination syllabus content to do with stars, galaxies and the Sun. You will also learn about new research on stars, especially the Sun, and find out why studying the solar wind and sunspot activity is important.

Biology

You will be working as a member of a research team in a university bioengineering department. Your department is about to put forward a research proposal to obtain money to develop incubators for very premature babies. You will be asked to carry out research in this area and write part of the proposal for the research grant.

You work for a company that is developing a new process to remove excess dyes from wastewater from factories that produce dyed fabrics. You have been asked to investigate the method to remove dyestuffs before your company puts more time and money into the process.

You will carry out one or more investigations on the properties of enzymes. Your investigation(s) will be based on a question, hypothesis or prediction, relating to the science of enzymes.

You will be working as a researcher in a university department of bioastronomy. You are part of a team that is putting in a proposal to win a contract to design a life-sustaining unit for a space flight to Mars. You and your colleagues will carry out some research into photosynthesis, and seek out other information about dietary needs and energy requirements for astronauts during their mission. You will then write a report of your findings to present at a seminar.

Project Rainbow was a real research project taking place at the University of Reading (http://www.reading.ac.uk/AcaDepts/kc/nhe/research/rainbow/rbwpubs.htm) looking at the problems visually handicapped people face getting about in public buildings, and devising solutions to some of the problems. You will carry out a research project in your school or college to find out what proportion of young people suffer from one or more common eye defects. You may follow this with an investigation into colour brightness.

Chemistry

You will be working as a member of a team of new research students in a university chemistry department. The department is very interested in doing research into how to make diesel engines burn fuel more efficiently. It is about to put in a research proposal to the Research Council for a grant to fund the work.

You will be working as a member of a team of research students in a university chemistry department. The Research Council has issued a press release announcing that funding is available for new research projects in catalysis. You have been asked to try out some new ideas before the department writes its bid for funding.

You will be working as a member of a university chemistry department research team. The World Food Commission (WFC) has issued a press release asking scientists to help set up an educational programme for use in developing countries. You will carry out research into fertilisers. You will use your findings to help you produce a leaflet for either farmers or teachers in these countries

Using extracts from Faraday’s diaries, letters and researches you will look at his working methods and take part in a discussion about his work. You will also carry out your own investigations into electrolysis and compare his results with your own.

In this Brief you will be attending a conference on ozone. You will have short talks and you may be selected to make a presentation about ground level (tropospheric) ozone and about the ozone layer (stratospheric ozone). You will also take part in discussions on how to tackle the problems associated with ozone in these two regions of the atmosphere.

You will carry out one or more investigations on the chemicals dissolved in sea water. Your investigation will be based on a question, an hypothesis or a prediction, relating to the chemical composition of sea water.

You will be working as a member of the Test Development Group in a university science faculty. You are asked to investigate a test for determining low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide by measuring luminescence. You will be asked to try one or more methods and evaluate their usefulness.

A Short Course on Rust

Teacher Notes (TN)
Study Guide (SG)

You will be working as a member of the Short Courses Team at North Western University preparing to run a 4 day training course for engineers working for a Middle Eastern oil company. You will need to work through the new activities to be included in the course, checking the experiments and questions, providing written answers and specimen results and suggesting any necessary changes to the activities.

Earth Science

You will be working as a new research student at the Institute of Planetary Research. The US National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) has asked for ideas from scientists from all over the world about what research a series of space probes to Mars can carry out on their missions. You will present a research proposal which suggests some possible Mars probe projects.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Teacher Notes (TN)
Study Guide (SG)

You will be working as a member of a team of new research students in a university chemistry department. The department has been asked to provide advice to a waste disposal company about the most suitable material to use to line a landfill site to stop toxic chemicals getting into the environment. You will carry out investigations to help you write your report to the company.

Physics

You will investigate how solar panels work. You will carry out an investigation based on a question, an hypothesis, or a prediction, relating to the science of solar panels.

You are a researcher acting as a consultant to the Energy Efficient Lighting Committee deciding on the style and content of a newspaper advertisement to promote the benefits of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and to encourage their widespread use in the home. You will present information required on specific aspects of CFLs and ordinary filament lamps, including costs and benefits, in order to produce the advertisement.

You are a researcher acting as a consultant to the Energy Efficient Lighting Committee deciding on the style and content of a newspaper advertisement to promote the benefits of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and to encourage their widespread use in the home. You will present information required on specific aspects of CFLs and ordinary filament lamps, including costs and benefits, in order to produce the advertisement.

You will carry out a survey of how lighting is used in your school to find out how both energy and money can be saved. You will produce a report of your findings which you may be required to present to the governors, head teacher and other interested individuals.

You work for a research department which has been asked to help a motor company to develop fibre optic lighting for car dashboards. You will carry out research into fibre optics and produce a report of your findings. You will use the report to help you plan a presentation to the motor company explaining how your research could help them develop their car designs.

You will be working as a scientist learning about the media by doing a placement in the Science Unit at STS Radio. Your assignment is to prepare a 4-minute feature about ultrasound and its uses for the series Science Alive. Using information from a variety of sources and conducting a real interview with an ‘expert’ (your teacher) you will prepare a script for the feature which will explain ultrasound to a non-scientific audience.

You will be working as a member of a particle physics department. Your head of department is keen that the department makes a contribution to raising the public understanding of science. He has asked you to design a poster for schools to help inform young people how PET Scanners work, and what they are used for. You also have to produce some questions for pupils to accompany the poster.

PHEPPS (Hydro-Electric)

Teacher Notes (TN)
Study Guide (SG)

You work for a research department that is designing a portable hydro-electric power plant (PHEPP). You will carry out some investigations to improve the design of the PHEPP. You will also look at the environmental benefits and drawbacks of a range of different ways of producing electricity and write a report of your findings.

You will be working as a member of a radioactivity research team. You have been asked to plan an investigation to test the design of a container that can carry radioactive materials used in hospitals. The investigation will be carried out by the Radiological Protection Officer.

Sound Judgement

Study Guide (SG)

You are going to find out if the classrooms in your school have good acoustics. You will learn how the ear works, carry out several investigations similar to those done by real researchers and make recommendations about how to make improvements.

All the briefs in a single zipped file for ease of download.

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