About Student Driven Research

This framework is at the heart of our mission; it allows students to do their own research. It may seem like a simple omission, but students don’t often have the chance to ask and answer their own questions in science education. When students engage in this way, it makes for a deeper more memorable experience in which people learn more about their subject area.

We start by teaching students how to ask rewarding questions–a skill that many students have trouble developing. They use what they have learned from background materials in class and an introduction to the field site to think of questions they are interested in learning the answers to. We then build upon this base knowledge and support students in developing their own research projects and implement them from design, to data collection, to analysis and presenting their findings.

Through our program, students experience firsthand the basic scientific method that informs and guides cutting edge research in every branch of science. It may seem difficult for young students to do, but we have found through our method that students produce amazing results. The powerful experience of asking and answering their own questions will give students an unforgettable connection to science and the natural environment.

Program Structure

Student Driven Research can be learned in a 3-5 day overnight program at Donner Summit or at school with a one day field study. The curriculum expectations and math used to complete the program are tailored to grade level standards.

Students will:

  1. Learn how to ask scientifically relevant questions about a topic
  2. Develop research methods and gather the materials to do the research
  3. Data Collection- at your school or nearby field site, or at our field site on Donner Summit
  4. Revise data collection methods, and finish data collection
  5. Analyze and graph data
  6. Create a final poster or PowerPoint presentation

The teacher or trip coordinator chooses the subject area that the students will research. We can meet all NGSS content standards for middle school and high school physical and life science classes. Choose a topic in Biology, Environmental Science, Geology, Earth Science, Life Sciences, Physical Science, and even Chemistry.  Ask us!  We will make it work.

Customizing programs

One amazing thing about Headwaters Student Driven Research programs is they can be done ANYWHERE! We understand that many teachers/schools don’t have the flexibility to take students on multi-day field trips. Headwaters offers fully customizable programs for students right at your campus or a natural site nearby!

Consider an overnight:
If you think taking a multi-day field trip is an option: Check out the field trip programs we offer at our Donner Summit Field Site.  We are also happy to create a custom Student Driven Research program at a site of your choosing.

Click to learn more about Program Costs.

Check out our Past Student Research.