Get ready for your next Science Fair!
So you want to get into a political science Ph. After blogging last get ready for your next Science Fair! about the gendered effects of a Ph.
I got a reasonable query from Caitlin Fitzgerald: if getting a Ph. Despite all of the warnings being proffered about the stultifying nature of graduate school and the horrible, very-bad, not-so-great quality of the academic job market, competition to get into top-tier grad schools is still quite high. So, how do you get in? As someone who got accepted into a very competitive Ph.
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Santa Clara and as someone who has sat in on more than his fair share of admissions committees, I can proffer some useful tips. Before I jump into the five dos and don’ts, let me remind you of something: in good Ph. The problem is a surfeit, not a dearth, of qualified applicants. With that out of the way, here are the Five Dos and Five Don’ts for undergraduates applying to Political Science Ph.
This might sound obvious, but a lot of undergraduate programs in political science — particularly in the first few years — will have syllabi larded with weird textbooks and Foreign Affairs articles. The best opportunity you’ll have to do that as an undergrad is your B. If you don’t write one and apply to a Ph. If you can’t handle that, how could you handle a dissertaton?
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So write a thesis whether it’s required or not — and make sure it’s good. Even if you’re aspiring to do pure political theory or qualitative work, you’re going to have to take classes in methodology, game theory and econometrics in graduate school. Go abroad and learn a language. Experience is not weighted all that heavily in grad school applications. Overseas experience is an exception, particularly if you want to specialize in an area or region of the globe.
Learning a language pertinent to that region or area will help as well. Exploit study abroad programs as a way to signal that you’ll be up for the rigors of field work. If you can fund your own ticket for graduate school, the admissions standards are not nearly so high. Whether you inherit family wealth, win an NSF fellowship, or finally make sure that Nigerian e-mailer comes through, having no need for fellowship support makes you a freebie to most programs. At that point, the equation changes from “is this candidate among the best? Your mileage may vary, but speaking personally, I’m at the point where I get so many of these emails that I ignore all of them. Because professors are not stupid — we know you’re sending these out en masse, we don’t know whether you really have the chops to get a degree, and because we don’t make decisions like this because of e-mails.
Detail, at length, your plans to change the world in your personal statement. The personal statement in a doctoral admissions packet is the easiest way for a candidate to screw up — it’ll be almost as bad as your dissertation prospectus. What admissions committees are looking for are signs of emotional and intellectual maturity matched with an ambition to do first-rate research. Put all your application eggs into one basket. Let’s say you’ve done everything I’ve suggested.
Let’s say you’ve researched grad schools carefully, and have decided that, given you’re research interests, the only person you can work with is Robert Bates at Harvard. Congratulations, you’ve gone overboard in specializing! Apply to good programs, not just to work with one person. Get celebrity professors to write you letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation matter a lot to this process, and I’ve noticed a trend among those-savvy-beyond-their-years to make sure they ingratiate themselves with well-known professors as a way of calling attention to one’s application. I get this instinct, and done well it can work — a glowing letter from, say, Madeleine Albright or Zbigniew Brzezinski that indicates deep knowledge about you can be a game-changer. Let’s say you work really hard and get accepted to a top tier program, but without the fellowship support that you need because — silly you!
You night start thinking, “sure, I’ll have to take on some debt, but it’s a great program and therefore worth it. First of all, it’s not like you’re going to be raking in the bucks as a post-grad — even a small amount of debt can be financially debilitating. Talk up your blog or Twitter feed as an example of research. It isn’t research, and no one cares anyway.
Part II — what to do if you’ve been out of college for a while and want to apply to get a Ph. Professors — am I missing anything? A Great Science Experiment Science doesn’t always interest everyone. But come up with something excitingsay sports science fair projectsand you may have the attention of some who couldn’t really care less about science. Now, try making that into a science fair project that’s exciting.
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We’ve scoured the science world and waded through several ideas for sports science fair projects. And we’ve come up with a good one. So hang on tightand check out this winner from our long list of sports science fair projects. Time – Give yourself about one week to do this one. Preparation Like we saidsports science fair projects are fun and educational. If you like athletics, you may be an athlete. So you’ll enjoy this project even more!
But today we’re asking you do be a little more than that. We’re asking you to be a scientist too. And good scientists always research their subject first. We’ll need to find out as much about basketball as we can. As with all sports science fair projects, this one deals with a specific aspect of basketball. So we’re going to look at the different surfaces of a court. So, guess what we need to research?
We need to research different kinds of surfaces. Find out what kinds of surfaces are used for basketball courts. Find all you can about different kinds of floor surfaces. Ask an adult, or get on the internet. Which ones are used professionally and semi-professionally.
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Does the floor surface affect the bounce of a basketball? This is a good question because we can try it out in a room in our house. We need to answer our important question first! Does surface make a difference as to how a ball responds? Write it down on a piece of paper.
Don’t change it until you see what the experiment does first. It’s the most important part of our project! Now it’s time to get your stuff from the list above. Let’s move to the next step.
Make arrangements to try this at different gyms that have different surfaces. Get permission from different schools or public organizations before you leave to use their facilities. Also, don’t forget to get permission from your parents before you go. Your parents will probably be interested in what you’re doing and want to help anyway. At each place take the temperature with your thermometer. Temperature and other conditions can affect your outcome.
So make note of it carefully. Check the pressure in each basketball. You’ll want to try to get each ball as equally filled as you can. Be careful with this part too. Drop each ball from the same height and measure the resulting bounce. It may be difficult to do this by yourself. So get someone to help you or set a video recorder on a tripod to be your eyes.
Set the camera up so its about the level where you would guess the ball will bounce. As you perform the process for each place, make sure you have your graphing supplies ready. You’ll need them for the next step. Process Data It’s time to organize what you’ve discovered.
For each location make a different graph to show the different heights of the basketballs. Take each graph and average the heights so you end up with one number for each location. Now, take your averages for each location and copy them neatly in a finalized form onto one graph. For help with graphing click here. Here’s a generic chart to give you a little bit of an idea what it should look like.
Does the surface make a difference? Should the pressure in the balls change to account for the surface? Carefully consider each of these questions about your sports science fair project and give answers to them in you research. You may want to use them later in your paper. Paper It’s time to tell what you’ve noticed. Sports science fair projects are just experiments without a report.
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So, we’ll write a report about what you saw. What you guessed about the floor surfaces. What you did with the floor surfaces and basketballs. Which floor had the highest bounce? If your guess was correct about how the basketballs bounced. Be careful to obey all the school rules for your science fair report. One paragraph for each of your grade levels will do if you weren’t given how long it should be.
If you want a little help with you report click here to find great ideas to get you started and get you through! Presentation Now you get to make the display for this sports science fair project! If you want more information about how to put together and arrange displays for sports science fair projects or any other kind click here or on the picture above. You can buy displays at many retail stores as well. However you do it, make sure you follow science fair rules!
Now, on a piece of paper neatly write your important question and your guess. If you would like, type it. Paste your guess, supply list and report onto your display board along with any pictures you might have taken. Make sure you label each so the judges know what is what. Making sure everything looks good is important! Try playing with some of the display ideas you see. You don’t have to use the exact ones we use.
And don’t forget to name your project at the top of the display board. It’s best to use your important question as the title. You may want to purchase stencils to make cutouts of letters. Or you may purchase already made letters at many retail stores. Sports science fair projects are the next best thing to playing sports. Finished with sports science fair projects?
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Click here for more great projects! Click here to start over at the homepage! All projects should be done under full adult supervision. Great, now it’s time to pick a science fair topic – a particular branch of science applicable to your idea that you are going to focus on. When choosing a science fair topic, it’s a good idea to keep it simple. It would be easy to let the complexity of a science project spiral out of control. It’s usually best to select some aspect of an observable phenomenon and do a project on just the most interesting part of whatever subject you choose.
Let’s say you’re interested in stars. Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics to name just a few. You might decide to focus on how stars make so much light. It is far easier to excel on a small focused topic then it is to go too broad. To get started, read on or pick a spot to go to directly: Branches of Science, Matching Interest to Topic, Narrowing your Focus. A great way to narrow your scope is to pick a particular branch of science you would like to pursue when doing your project.
Physics: essentially, this is the study of the physical universe and the forces within it. There are many sub-branches from physics, including: Astronomy, Dynamics, Mechanics and Optics. Chemistry: the study of matter and its transformations. Sub-disciplines of chemistry include: Biochemistry and Materials Science. Earth Sciences: the scientific domain encompassing earth and all its processes. Geology, Meteorology, Oceanography and Seismology all stem from this discipline.
Anatomy, Botany, Ecology, Entomology, Genetics, Neuroscience and Zoology all stem from the study of Biology. Anatomy: deals with the structure and organization of living things. Botany: the study of plant life. Insects are very important to many kinds of plants and even to humans and other animals. Evolution: the process of passing novel traits from one generation to the next in living things.
Genetics: the study of genes, heredity, and the variety we see in organisms. Marine Biology: deals with plants and animals in the oceans, lakes, and other bodies of water. Mathematics: the study of number and systematic ways to understand and model the world around us. These are some the most popular disciplines experimenters focus on when choosing science fair topics. If you would like more options when picking a science fair topic you may want to check out this page on Wikipedia.
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Even the smartest scientists in the world don’t know all this stuff. Remember when you spent some time to figure out what it is that you liked – a hobby or interest? If not, we encourage you to go back and discover what it is that interests you most and then return when you feel ready. Figured out what you want to know more about?
Got something that makes you curious and interested? Now glance through the list of scientific disciplines listed above and their descriptions and try to match your interest with one of the scientific disciplines. Physics might work, but that seems too general. Now we are getting close: perhaps Geology would be the best bet here, since Geology deals with the processes of Earth and volcanoes are very active processes indeed! Max has found his science fair topic. Why is choosing a particular science important?
Because we are trying tohome in on a specific science fair topic for your project! By choosing a particular branch of science we are narrowing the scope of your project so you can focus on the important stuff that is of most interest to you. Ok, figured out what branch of science you want to focus on? At this point, you need to make a decision: what specific aspect of your interest or hobby do you want to do your project on? You need to figure out what aspect of your interest or hobby you want to make your science fair topic in order to move on to the next step.
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Time for your science fair experiment. If you looked at the scientific method on the Ideas page, this will look familiar to you. On this page, we are going to cover the first three of these steps. Question In order to do an experiment, you need to have a science fair questionthat you are trying to answer. Put simply: Pick a some interesting aspect of your topic and choose a question about that which you can answer by doing a science fair experiment. When doing your experiment it will be very important for you to identify any Controlled Variables that might affect the outcome of your experiment.
Now that you have a question about an interesting topic which you’ve researched, it’s time to create your science project hypothesis. If you can’t come up with a hypothesis that seems right, go back and try reworking your question. If you can’t seem to come up with a good hypothesis, it’s probably because the question is not specific enough. At this point, you can still make major changes to your science fair experiment and not waste a lot of time. So if you are unhappy with your question or hypothesis for any reason then now is a great time to come up with something better that does please you. Once you begin the actual process of experimentation, changing your mind can cost you a lot of time or money or both. So be doubly sure you are ready before proceeding.
Now that you have your question and a hypothesis you can do a hypothesis test. When you do the test you are testing to see if your hypothesis, your guess about what will happen, was correct. Your guess maybe right or it may be wrong. Whether it is correct or not is not of the utmost importance – the most important thing is to follow the scientific method and perform your experimentation correctly! If you do, you will get valuable scientific information to present even if your hypothesis turns out to be incorrect. It is advisable to setup your experiment so that you can run your science project hypothesis test multiple times in order to check your work. If you get similar results each time, it is likely that your experiment is valid.
If you are done, the next step involves gathering your data, drawing conclusions and reporting your results. Here is a simple to test for yourself in order to figure out if you have a good procedure for your science fair experiment: could you give all of your notes about how to do the experiment to a friend and expect them to be able to duplicate your test results without talking to you about it? It started when a honeybee flew up Michael Smith’s shorts and stung him in the testicles. Smith is a graduate student at Cornell University, who studies the behaviour and evolution of honeybees.
In this line of work, stings are a common and inevitable hazard. But I was really surprised that it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. That got him thinking: Where’s the worst place on the body to get stung? Everyone who works with stinging insects has their own answers, but Smith couldn’t find any hard data. Even Justin Schmidt was no help.