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Discovery Projects: The Quest for Knowledge
African American female chemist during scientific research in a lab.

What is it?

  • These projects are all about answering a scientific question. You might start with a hypothesis and then design experiments to test it. Essentially, you’re contributing to the broader scope of human knowledge. This could be anything from “How does the concentration of a reactant affect the rate of a chemical reaction?” to “What is the impact of sleep on academic performance?”

Methodology

  • Research: Heavy literature review to understand the existing knowledge in the area.
  • Hypothesis: Formulate a question or assumption you want to test.
  • Experiment: Design and conduct experiments that allow you to test your hypothesis.
  • Data Collection: Collect data through your experiments.
  • Analysis: Statistical analysis of the data to prove or disprove your hypothesis.
  • Conclusion: Summarize the findings and suggest future research paths.

Who should choose this?

  • If you’re curious about how the world works.
  • If you enjoy performing experiments.
  • If you’re considering a career in scientific research.

Examples

  • Studying the effects of different soil types on plant growth.
  • Researching how different diets affect the lifespan of a particular animal species.

 

Innovation Projects: The Solution Creators

What is it?

  • Innovation projects are geared towards solving a specific problem or improving an existing solution. Say you’ve noticed that people waste a lot of water while washing dishes. Your project could be designing a water-efficient dishwasher. Or maybe you’ve realized that phone batteries die too quickly, and you want to innovate a new kind of battery technology.

Methodology

  • Problem Identification: What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Research: Study existing solutions to identify their weaknesses or gaps.
  • Ideation: Come up with multiple design ideas to solve the problem.
  • Prototype: Build a preliminary version of your solution.
  • Testing: Conduct tests to validate the effectiveness of your design.
  • Refinement: Make adjustments based on test results.
  • Implementation: Apply your solution to real-world scenarios.

Who should choose this?

  • If you love solving problems.
  • If you enjoy building and creating things.
  • If you’re considering a career in engineering or product design.

Examples

  • Creating a phone app that helps people find parking spots in a crowded city.
  • Designing a more efficient system for recycling plastics.

Key Differences

Factor

Discovery

Innovation

Primary Goal

Answer a scientific question

Solve a problem

Methodology

Experiment-centric

Design-centric

Outcome

Knowledge, academic papers

Products, prototypes, patents

Career Relevance

Research roles, academia

Engineering, design, entrepreneurship

  • So, there you have it! If you’re the type of person who loves asking “why?” and digging deep into understanding the mysteries of the universe, go for a Discovery project. If you’re more into the “how can we make this better?” approach and love tinkering and building stuff, Innovation is your game.