Poster Tips and Ideas

Inquiry-Based Learning and Research

As your students collect data outdoors we hope they are making new, big and small observations. Most importantly, we hope your students have lots of questions! We suggest channeling students interests and passions into an inquiry-based project that allows them to dive deeper, fosters their curiosity, allows them to take ownership and makes research meaningful. 

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Let Students ask the questions

Have a place for students to record and refer to their questions. This could be in individual journals, or kept together as a class “I wonder” board.  Have these journals, or the “I wonder” board available to refer to throughout the project.  You can group the questions by themes to determine something you’re class might want to investigate further for their Mountain Science Expo poster(s). This doesn’t need to be done right away. Let students have time to really examine which question they want to explore deeper and stay engaged in throughout the project.


Allow Time for Research

It is important to allow some class time to be utilized for researching the questions your students have come up with. You will serve as a guide and a resource for the students and help model and direct the research. You can also assign research to be done additionally outside of the classroom.

Edutopia has lots of tips and resources, including sample research worksheets available for download. We encourage you to utilize them as a resource for your class's student-driven research!


Have Students Present

Having students present allows them to show their interest and ultimately their understanding of the topic.

You can have presentations in the classroom, but don't forget about The Mountain Science Expo in April at The Arboretum. Students are invited to come and stand by their poster (during a 30 minute time slot) and share with visitors and STEM professionals about their project. 

Project Investigation Ideas


Birdsleuth offers free downloads of research projects designed by students. They include a list of methods, materials, and other information your may need to recreate these studies in your own schoolyard. They also offer curriculum to help students design their own studies and include possible poster topics such as:

-  Do Hummingbirds Prefer Feeders Up High or Low?
-  Do chickadees feed directly from the feeder or the ground?
-  What time of the day do we see the most birds at the feeder?
- Will a fake cat scare away birds?
- Will birds eat more from a feeder that has cover nearby or a feeder that is out on the open?

You can also view their annual national challenge here.


Are your students wondering about where squirrels eat? Study their foraging behavior and submit your findings to Project Squirrel. Project Squirrel provides information on how to conduct the study, materials We recommend you use the sunflower seed model found on pages: 11-14 and 26.


Have students investigate their tree species for how its pollinated, how its affected by the weather, what types of life it supports, and how many benefits it provides for humans. Students will also compare their tree phenology to the same species across the country.