Scientists range across all experience levels and all branches of science. Students beginning at the most elementary level of science studies may conduct investigatory projects both for routinely assigned classroom projects and for entry in a science fair. Practicing professional scientists also conduct investigatory projects. The importance of any specific science investigatory project depends on the context, including both the specific scientific discipline and the experience level of the person or team conducting the project.
A science investigatory project involves the use of the scientific method within an area of inquiry. The scientific method is a systematic methodology that includes five steps. The scientist or science student first identifies the problem. He then proposes, or formulates, a potential answer to the problem. At the third step, he tests that proposed answer, also called the hypothesis. As an outcome of testing the hypothesis, he gathers data and conducts an analytical evaluation of that data. Finally, the student or scientist draws conclusions based on the data.
Science investigatory projects have applications in the social sciences as well as in such physical sciences as chemistry, biology, astronomy, geology and medicine. You may even find important science investigatory projects in disciplines such as economics, statistics and computational finance. Each of these disciplines has the potential to make scientific discoveries that have importance to society.
Student science investigatory projects provide students practical experience in using the scientific method and help stimulate their interest in scientific inquiry. Given the benefits society can realise from professional scientific inquiry, such goals in themselves have importance. The outcome of a professional science investigatory project often involves a discovery that can improve the lives of people or animals, or protect the environment.
Examples illustrate how science investigatory projects have practical importance. Investigatory projects at the Free Science Fair website task users to create and complete a project with the objectives and scientific advancement and livelihood development in the experimenter's community.