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8th Grade Science


The 8th grade research project is an opportunity for students to understand the role and importance of research in our world and apply the scientific method to a topic of their choice.


Students work in small groups and started by developing a research question with the guidance of Honors Research Students. Groups then created a procedure of their own design, had it approved by an Institutional Review Board, and independently carried out data collection to help answer their question. 

Below you can explore project abstracts, pdf posters, and video introductions from each group.

Is Kinesthetic, Visual or Auditory the Most Effective Teaching Style?

Ela D.,

Emily L.,

Ella G.,

Grace O.

This project was designed to provide insight into the effect of kinesthetic, visual and auditory lessons on test scores and overall understanding of the contents of the lesson. We know that people are labeled visual, kinesthetic and auditory learners all the time. Some people say that the type of lesson is not relevant and some people depend on being taught in a way that suits them. We decided to select a random group of students and give groups of them the same lesson in each of the different styles. The three groups were visual (read the script), auditory (listened to the script being read aloud) and kinesthetic learning (transcribed the script as it was being read aloud). Then, they were all administered the same test and we compared their group averages and medians.. The people in the kinesthetic group had performed the best - their group averages and medians were significantly higher. 

The Effects of Feminism on Short-Term Resilience of Female-Identifying Students

Violet A.,

Reese D.,

Amelia G., Christina O.

With this experiment, we hoped to determine whether recent exposure to feminism has an impact on assessment performance after failure in adolescents who identify as female. A possible obstacle we identified before the study is stereotype threat, the process by which women are demoralized in any situation when sensing that their performance will either advance or harm the status of all women in that space. The experiment took place on two randomly chosen groups of female-identifying adolescents. Each group was falsely informed that their female counterparts had previously been outperformed by boys on a logic-based test. The test group was left with a women’s studies textbook for ten minutes before the administration of the test, while the control group studied an encyclopedia. After the test, each group was informed that they had failed and were to be administered a second exam. We measured discrepancies between the scores on the two tests to determine comparative levels of resilience. Our results found that the average subject in the test group performed continuously higher (earned more points) on both the first and second tests, while the scores of the control group increased by one percent more than those of the test group. Though these results were inconclusive because of test length, group size, and quite possibly a lack of motivation on the part of the participants, we recommend further experimentation on a larger scale.

How do Food Rewards Affect Test Results?

Jiya P.,

Ciara L.,

Juliet M.,

Hailey W.

Madelyn N.

The purpose of this study was to determine how 7th and 8th-grade students’ test results are affected by food rewards. On the first day, we gave students a 10 question test. We then told them they would get a donut if they achieved above an 80% to see if it would yield better test scores. On the second day, we did everything the exact same way but told the students taking the test, they would get a different treat instead( something healthy, we chose fruit). After testing the students and analyzing the results of all of the participants, we found that the average test score of the students who were given donuts were much better than the results of the student who were given fruit.

How does someone’s feelings of certain songs affect their heart rate while listening to that song?

Claire L.,

Alana L.,

Chloe K.,

Natalie B.

Our group’s goal was to see if feelings of certain songs affect your heart rate while listening to them. The reason we were all attracted to this project was because we were looking to find a way to change your mood through a bit of music. After purchasing PASCO Heart Rate Monitors and recruiting Marlborough student volunteers, we were ready to start the project. In this experiment, we asked twenty volunteers to pick a song they found calming and a song they found exciting. Using the software Capstone, we tracked each participant’s heart rate for both the two songs as well as with no songs playing (for a control group). When we put all the data together and looked at the results, we discovered that their heart rate tended to decrease when listening to calm music. The results for the exciting music were less clear. As our participants’ physical actions, such as singing and dancing, could’ve affected our results, a potential future project would be to see if there’s a correlation between physical responses to a song and heart rate.

The Effect of Rewards on Short-Term Memory Tests

Kallie D.,

Emmi M.,

Wyeth R.,

Reilly J.

In order to fill in a lack of research under the general umbrella of the impacts of rewards as motivation, our project tested to see how being promised a food reward impacts achievement on short term memory tests. Two different groups received separate instructions that were exactly the same except for one mentioning a reward for a score above 90% before taking a test that asked participants to recall letters that were displayed on the screen for three seconds. We found that the group of participants given knowledge of a reward scored 14.76 percentile points higher on average.

Which Method of Delivery of Information Best Helps Students Retain Information?

Naomi U., Penelope W., Rosetta M.,

Coco M.

Our research project focuses on what teaching method (kinesthetic or auditory) is more effective for teaching students in grades seven and eight. Many different methods of teaching are used in classrooms today, and our study tries to identify which way works better. Our study focuses on two different teaching methods, kinesthetic and auditory. Auditory is commonly used and is a more traditional method, where someone will be verbally taught something, and they will try to retain what they just heard. On the other hand, kinesthetic is a less traditional method, where memorization takes place by people carrying out physical activities. We decided to test these two methods by teaching a different lesson using each. testing the students on each lesson, and then seeing which lesson led to better scores on a test. For the kinesthetic method, we put together a timeline (without dates) on the history of plumbing, and the students had to work individually to put it into chronological order. They were then shown the correct timeline and had to rearrange theirs. For the auditory method, we wrote a lecture script about the history of picture frames and read it to the students. After collecting all of our data, we learned that students in seventh and eighth grade on average scored six percent better on the tests about the information they learned using the kinesthetic method.

Does Color Affect Taste?

Allie K,

Isabel K,

Keira M,

Scarlett C

Our research project was how color affects taste. We conducted this experiment to see how our brain tricks us into bringing things we already know into things we don’t. In this experiment we tried to figure out how our past knowledge of flavor is reflected when seeing certain colors. We got 4 cups of jello with 4 different colors (red, blue, purple, and orange) but with no flavoring. Our independent variable is the 4 different colors of jello and our dependent variable is the flavor our participants think the jello is while looking at the color .When we gave the cups to the participants, 35.7% of them believed there was no flavor but the other 64.3% were manipulated into thinking there was a flavor. Some problems were that we had very few participants and some of the participants may have heard about this kind of experiment where they are asked to answer questions with no answer. Overall, our hypothesis was proven to be true although the process could’ve been better.

How an increase in wealth affects spending

Aria K.,

Lila R.,

Hannah P.,

Sabrina M.

Our Research Project was a study on the psychology behind the decisions made on spending. We chose to focus our study on the spending patterns after the subject had an unexpected increase in wealth. This could pertain to anything from a raise to winning the lottery. By sending out google forms we came to the conclusion that these sudden increases in wealth has a direct relation to the decisions made while spending.

How the prevalence of freckles affects your skin’s reaction to UV exposure

Samantha A., Gisele G.,

Cate G.,

Oona H.,

For our research project, we were interested in freckles and skin cancer. We researched if there is a known connection between having freckles and the tendency to get sunburned, which can lead to skin cancer. We eventually decided on our question: Is there a correlation between the prevalence of freckles and how skin reacts to UV exposure? We hypothesized that the connection between the factors was that those who had freckles burned more often than people who didn’t. To test our theory, we sent out a google form to the entire Marlborough community, including all students and teachers. Our survey asked participants to report to us the abundance of freckles on their faces, and how their skin typically reacted when exposed to the sun. The survey asked participants to provide us with some extraneous information like their skin tone, and which of their relatives, if any, had freckles. Our data showed that over 50% of people with freckles burned when exposed to the sun, 66% of our freckled participants sunburned more than they tanned. After receiving our results, we determined that there is a correlation between the prevalence and how skin reacts to UV exposure (sunburn).

The Effects of the Increase of Chemical Dopamine on Middle School Girls’ Test Scores

Kathleen K.  Gideon S.

Fallyn G.  

Grayson F. 

For our research project we tested the effect of the increase of dopamine eighth grade girls’ test scores by having the same group of girls come back for three separate days. On the first day they took a simple math test, on the second day they did an easy workout, then a simple test, and on the last day they did a hard workout, then a simple test. The tests had very similar content, so the participants were unable to use their memory of the previous test to improve their scores. Each girl’s data was slightly different, but followed generally the same pattern, average wise. After averaging the scores we used them to compare data for the final submission. It supported our research question negatively and positively. Between the first two days, there was a decrease in the average of scores, but between the last two days, there was an increase in the average of scores. At first, it seemed that our claim, it would positively affect the scores, seemed incorrect, by the end it seemed 50/50. We came to the conclusion that the first workout was not nearly enough of a workout to affect the test scores as it was short and easy. However, the other workout was much harder and longer, which was enough of a workout for the participants’ brains to release enough dopamine to raise their test scores. all in all, we discovered that the longer you decide to workout before a test, the higher your test score will be.

The Prevalence of the PTC Gene Among Various Ethnicities at Marlborough

Lily K.  

Hunter P.

Emery P.  

Caroline S.

Our research project is based upon the prevalence of the PTC gene among various ethnicities at Marlborough. The purpose of our experiment is to see which ethnicity carries the most PTC, a gene that tastes bitterness. We tested different ethnicities to see which one tested with a higher result to the PTC gene, and tested whether the PTC gene directly relates to your self-identified ethnic group. We were curious to see how many contrasting ethnicities would ultimately react to the PTC strip, and wanted to learn if ethnicity could be a factor of how a certain person would react to the bitterness. Additionally, the purpose of our experiment was to understand if the reaction to bitterness and if it would be distinct, and how it could vary at Marlborough. We purchased PTC strips and held the experiment three times. We had everyone taste the strips and then record their results immediately afterwards, which  included their ethnicity and reaction to the strip in terms of tasting no bitterness, bitterness, and extreme bitterness. The subjects that we tested included different ethnicities such as European/Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Mixed. Based on our results, we learned that most of the ethnicities reacted to PTC with a 50% chance of tasting bitterness or higher.  We learned that people in the Hispanic ethnicity group reacted the strongest with the PTC strip. 100% of the Hispanic people that we tested carried PTC. 

Effect of Different Foods on Middle School Test Performance

Eliza S. 

Juliana O.  

Jozy L.-H. 

We chose to research about the influence of food on test taking. Obviously, being hungry teenagers we all eat a lot. We wanted to make sure that the food we were eating did not have a negative effect on our test scores, as we take tests and quizzes almost everyday. We started by doing a little research; studies have shown that junk food has a more negative effect on test scores than healthy food does, but many of these experiments did not include the control variable of no food at all. With adding the factor of no food at all, we asked the question of whether healthy food, junk food, or no food at all has an effect on test scores. We conducted an experiment with three different test taking groups. One group ate fruit before taking the test, one ate junk food before taking it and one ate no food before taking the test. These three different groups of middle school students ate fruit, donuts or no food before taking the same logic puzzle test. These tests were made with logic puzzles in which the level of math of a certain participant did not influence their score on the test. After collecting all the data we can conclude that eating any kind of food before a test benefits a student’s score and not eating at all detriments a student’s score.

How Different Genres of Music Affect Comprehension and Focus Levels

Hope L. 

Claire C.  

Cece N. 

Hazel R. 

Our research project revolved around the psychology behind music being able to improve your accuracy and focus while learning something new. Since we are students ourselves, this information would benefit us and others in school who want to improve their focus levels during studying and performances on assessments. To conduct this experiment, we separated 16 seventh graders into four groups: No music (control group) , Pop, Jazz, and Rock, giving them each a 7th grade comprehension article on the Grand Canyon. After the subjects had thoroughly finished reading, the participants answered four questions to the best of their ability, their accuracy and level of detail determining how well they had comprehended the article. We had four different sessions, testing a new group (new music genre) each time.  As a result, we found that Pop music had the same average in detail and accuracy as Jazz and Rock, but had the shortest average time out of the different genres, therefore, making Pop music the most effective.

Do Granny Smith Apples Rot Faster in a Humid or Dry Environment?

Novin S.,

Maya B.,

Katie O.

We researched how fast granny smith apples rot in humid and dry environments. We wanted to learn this because according to National Geographic, produce is the third most eaten food group in the world, and were curious how the storage of an apple could affect the decay of the tissue. This will help people who want to effectively store their produce, or famers who are looking into how to store their produce before it is sold. In our experiment, we placed the whole apple along with sliced granny smith apples into plastic bins. Two of our bins contained hot water to portray a humid environment, while the other two bins were dry, and had no water. Everyday, we took five photos of the different parts of the apple and also changed the water. Over time, we were able to see the decay and the browning of the apples. In the end, we noticed that the apple halves rotted faster  than the full apples. Finally, we saw how the dry apples brown faster than the ones in the humid environment. 

What is The Subconscious Effect Of Ultrasonic Sound On Reaction Time?

Elsa S.,

Alexis W. 

Lotus L.L.

Our study shows the effects of ultrasonic sound (sounds above human range of hearing) on the reaction times and cognitive ability of students aged fourteen to fifteen. Our test subjects were a group of Geometry students that took the test online, once in a silent classroom and a second time in a room with 18,000 hertz playing from both a laptop and iPhone. The frequencies played were mirrored after those of modern devices used for deterring household pests and common in lab environments as well. Aside from a number of external factors that may have swayed our data, our results conclusively showed that the average reaction time of those exposed to these frequencies took longer to respond to a series of easy questions on color coordination called the Stroop effect test. 

How Different Forms of Supervision affect the Honesty of Students

Sera K.,

Beatrice L., Whitney W.

Stella C.

Our research project was based on the psychology of how honorable students will be as they are put under different levels of supervision. What we did was buy fifty donuts on three different days and left them out in the school library (everyone was free to take one). The first day, we left the students with the donuts and a sign that said “please take only one” and a secret camera recording them. Another day, we sat there supervising them but still left the sign there. After collecting our data, we saw that on average, a student without supervision took more donuts than a student with supervision.

The Effects of Different Colored Lighting on Basil Growth

Chase K.,

Sofia K.,

Avery G.

We focused our project on the effects of different lighting on basil plants. We chose basil because of its ability to grow quickly and its similarity to other edible plants.. Our purpose was to see if an alternative type of lighting, other than sunlight, is more effective for plant growth. We also wanted to test how different lighting colors and wavelengths affect the basil plants. After conducting research we predicted white light would be most beneficial for plant growth and blue would help produce strong and sturdy stems, roots, and leaves. While red was expected to benefit the plant near the end of its growth cycle and ensure for healthy stem. This could assist farmers or other plant growers by increasing crop production. To test this, we isolated three groups with three basil plants per group and placed them in a cardboard box under either red, blue or white LED light. Every other day we uncovered the box in a dark room to water them and measure stem length. Then, we put our results into a data table that tracked progress over a four week period of time. Our results found the white light was most beneficial, as the plants under that light grew the most and tallest. The plants under the blue and red lights were very similar to each other because they both grew to around 7 cm and one plant in each of those groups did not survive. Overall we concluded that different colored lighting does have an effect on basil plant growth, with white light promoting the most overall plant growth.

How manipulated perceptions of the difficulty of a test affect scores

Eliza W.

Eliza L.

We did research to determine if one’s perceptions about the difficulty of a task can possibly affect one’s performance on that task. We hypothesized that students would do better on a test labelled easy than a test labelled hard. We gathered 24 systems of equations to solve, and then tested them on ourselves to determine the difficulty level of each problem, chose similar problems, and made three comparable tests that we gave 15 students from Algebra 1. When administering the tests, we hinted at the difficulty of the tests through casual remarks. After grading, we collected scores and averaged them to see on which test the students did better, finding that the data supported our hypothesis, as people did, on average, best on the “easy” test, and worst on the “hard” one.

What is the impact of different genres of music on memory?

Brooke H.,

Isabelle M.,

Eloise P.

The purpose of our project was to find out whether or not certain genres of music affect memory, focus, and test taking ability. As students who study a lot as well as take many tests, we wanted to know how we should study and if certain music would help us focus. We began by selecting songs from different genres and choosing students to take part in our testing. We then created a slideshow presentation and tests based on the slides. The students met in their groups with Isabelle proctoring. As Isabelle was teaching the students, the music from the selected genre was playing in the background. After a week of waiting, the students came back to the room where we were testing for the actual test part of the project. While the students took their tests, the music that they heard while they were learning played in the background. We then graded the tests and compared how groups did on average. The results from the tests varied, and did not seem affected by the music played. With an average score of 9.8 out of a possible 13, the music didn’t seem to phase the students. No conclusive data was taken from the experiment. After finishing the project, we distinguished certain components we would change for future testing. These would include a wider range of participants, a different set of songs, and a more constructed time table

How eating or chewing different foods affect memory retention during tests

Yuma N,

Sophia P,

Caroline L.

Our research project was on how eating / chewing different foods affect memory retention during a test. We hoped to learn which sugary snack (chocolate, jolly ranchers, chewing gum, or no candy) led to the best memory retention. We decided to test roughly 25 students with a simple 5 minute memory test, consisting of easy nouns. Based on our survey collection, we learned that, on average, students that ate no candy at all scored 79% on their tests. This category is by far the highest with Jolly Ranchers at 62.6%, gum at 63%, and chocolate at 64.6%. We believe that our project did not provide any useful information or results regarding sugar's effects on test taking, because the test results from each category varied widely which did not allow us to come to a conclusion based on our data. We believe that some of the test takers had a more advanced memory previous to our test, so the data did not reflect the candy’s effect on their performance as much as it might have on others. 

What is the effect of the color of paper on stress while taking an assessment, and does it affect the students’ test scores?

Dalton H.,

Kaela T.,

Gable G.,

Talia Z.

Our research question was the effect of the color of paper on stress and test scores. We were expecting to lessen stress and anxiety that teens recently have by finding a color of paper that reduces stress and tension. We want to reduce stress in our daily life, and find a way to help other students. We decided to make a math quiz and printed it on different colors of paper. Our test subjects were 7th graders in a pre-algebra class; they took our quiz as well as two surveys. We took the survey data and their quiz scores to make a graph. Our results were based on the comparison of quizzes, and how the color of paper affected one’s score and stress level. This helped show whether it increased or decreased these two aspects of assessment-taking. We compared the students who tested on the colored paper, to the students who tested on the white paper, our control group. Every student's grade in this class was mostly B and A’s. 3 out of the 4 test groups got a 4 out of 6 points including the white control group Students who tested on yellow paper, resulting in an average 3.33 points. 

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