MHS AP Chemistry
Final Project Guide

This information page is to help you with planning for your major project.  Please ask any questions that this does not answer.  We'll start with some due dates.

_________ This is the absolute final date to submit a project proposal without penalty.  Since your proposal may need reworking, you should submit them right after Christmas break so we can agree about them.
_________ Rough Draft:  Whatever you have done, pass it in to me in rough draft form.  Don't worry if this is incomplete; it is purely for feedback purposes.  This must include references.
_________ Project due.  Whatever products you have made should be here in room 207, along with TWO copies of your paper.  I will be glad to accept finished projects earlier than this, of course.
_________  Class presentations.  Be prepared to offer the class a short lecture or summary of your project, including goals, problems encountered, results, and the chemistry involved.  Feel free to use handouts or demos or other materials not required in a written presentation.  The “lecture” should be about fifteen minutes, but may go longer if you wish.  Be creative.

The project is basically two parts:

  1. A research paper about the topic in chemistry you have chosen.  This should work as the introduction section to your lab write-up (see #2). Since this is a research paper, it must be well-referenced.
  2. A standard formal lab write-up.  Since this is not a lab out of a class manual, it should include a clear introduction section and background information.  The procedure should describe what you actually did, including where you obtained data.  There is no need to describe lab techniques.
  3. Also include

Note that the project must include lab work.  If things have gone well, you did a project on a subject in which you are interested.  Your project should reflect that interest, and get me excited about the subject too.  I am hoping to learn something from each of these, but don't try to over-reach your subject - write for a very advanced high school AP chemistry class.  Read Discover magazine (or your own textbook!) for ideas about writing style.

I will also be looking at least as much at your use of the Scientific Method as your results.  With that in mind, be clear about problems you encountered and how you solved them (NOT gave up on them).


THE PAPER  (Type these headings into your report!  - then add to them as bits & pieces of information come your way.)

Title Page - The project title, your name, the date due, the class, & the period.

Table of Contents - Include every section and appendix.  Start numbering pages with "3" on the page after this.

Introduction - This is the research paper part.  What are you doing?  Why did you choose this?  What background information do you need to present for the project understandable?  What research did you do?  All references MUST be properly cited.  Check with me or an English teacher to make sure you are doing this correctly.

Hypothesis/Objective - This is the beginning of the lab report part: it is what you intend to do or find out or test.  This may be as short as two sentences.  You should have either a hypothesis or an objective.

Procedure - What you actually did in the lab.  Describe everything, but don’t include too many details - you’re writing this for chemists, so saying “titrate with 1.0 M NaOH solution” is fine - don’t describe how to make the solution unless its unusual.  If you used or adapted a procedure from a manual, make sure it is referenced.

Data - Be VERY complete here.  Include all relevant information, with the proper number of sig figs and labels, and be sure not to write ANY derived information (mass and volume are measurements, but density is a result).  This should be in table form (NOT paragraphs.  Also, do not use hyphens for any reason.  Can you spell “Pet Peeve”?).

Calculations/Results - You only need to show one set of calculations if you performed more than one trial.  These should be VERY easy to follow (use as much room as you need).  The results should also be listed in table form.

Conclusions - Discuss your results and their implications.  Did you accomplish what you expected to?  What would you do next?  What may have gone a bit wrong?

Bibliography - The bibliography must include ALL references used - even e-mail, personal communications, and on-line services.  There should be a minimum of five sources.  At least two must be from the past two years, and at least one must be a magazine or journal.

Summary/Abstract - You will pass this out during your presentation so we can follow what you did.  Two sides of one page, maximum.






You've all been wondering, so here it is (subject to revision).

10 Rough drafts.
10 Mechanics of the Report - grammar, structure, clarity, adherence to scientific method, use of tables and graphs.
10 References - proper credit given with proper form.  See your English grammar book or "the Little, Brown Handbook of Style."  Every idea that is not your own gets a cited reference; don't forget that every paragraph is a new idea.
5 Currentness - At least some of your references in the introduction section should be less than two years old.
20 Chemistry - Remember that this is mostly a chemistry report and only partly a research report.  The chemical processes should be clearly explained in terms of concepts about which we already know something.  If this is impossible, introduce the new concept as clearly as possible.  This is the most important part of the project.
15 Scientific Method - Did you home in on your goal in an organized way?  Did you run into any problems?  How did you solve them?  Is your data presented clearly?  Did you have variables and controls?
10 Conclusions - What did you discover or learn?  How?  Also, a short error analysis - Your final results might not be what you predicted.  Why not?  There are imperfections in the universe that make a lab difficult or even impossible to do perfectly; how did they affect your project?  HINT:  "Human Error" means "I was too lazy to fix it."
10 "What comes next?" - If your project's goals were ultimately unmet, what would you do next to fix them?  If you did meet them, what avenue would they lead you to explore next, if you had the time?  What could you do with your results?
10 Was this a creative, interesting investigation, that you learned a lot from (10) or an irritation that you cobbled together to avoid failing, which you’ve already forgotten (0)?  (This is pretty much the effort grade).
- ? Promptness   - 5 points off for each day late.


You have plenty of time.  Type this report.  You should have a rough draft that you continually update; this is especially useful if you have questions for me.  I know you have a studey period in the library, so you can type there.

Feel free to e-mail me questions or drafts (as attachments). I can reply to e-mail every week-day.

The main goal of this project is to get you to learn something beyond class on your own.  I seriously hope this project is educational AND fun.  Your paper and presentation should relate what YOU got out of it.  PLEASE stay in contact with me until it is collected so your focus doesn't wander.

[MHS AP Chem page]