Research Paper Activities for Middle School

Instructor: Marquis Grant
This lesson will highlight research paper activities and projects for middle school students in all courses and grade levels. A short quiz will follow to test your knowledge.

Research Paper Activities and Projects for Middle School

Middle grade students can become involved in several projects based on the themes and units you, as the teacher, are covering in any class at any grade level. Below are some examples of various subject-specific research paper activities that your students can complete for each subject area.

Language Arts

When teaching a unit on poetry, instructional time will likely be spent talking about the different elements of poetry, such as the use of metaphors, similes and other literary terms. In addition, you will likely cover haiku, sonnets, ballads and other poetry types. To reinforce this lesson, you can have your students create their own original poem, or they can bring in a poem, including a rap or song. You can then have them all write a paper that would include analysis of the poem, rap or song's meaning and use of literary devices, such as hyperbole, onomatopoeia, allusion, etc. Additionally, they can include details about the overall tone (how the author feels), mood (how the author makes the reader feel) and theme (lesson) of the work.

It may also be a good idea for students to research the author of their selections and include this information in their papers. Including the author's information may shed additional light on why the author chose to write the selection in the first place. For example, Emily Dickinson experienced the deaths of several close family members. When writing a research paper on one of her poems, these tragic events may help explain the often dark mood and tone Dickinson portrayed in her writing.

Students will also become more familiar with novels during middle school as part of most standards-based curricula. You might have them write a paper analyzing a novel's setting and background, which could help them better understand different events taking place throughout a story. They would need to research the period in which the novel takes place in order to provide important details about setting.

For example, if your students are reading Under a War Torn Sky, you might have students research what life was like in various parts of the world during the 1940s. How did people dress during this time? What forms of entertainment or shows were popular? Because Under a War Torn Sky takes place during World War II, you might want your students to research the causes of the war, those countries that were involved in the war and the outcomes of the war. All of this information can be included in the paper as well.


For a math class, you could have students be creative with numbers and concepts using real-world math problems. For instance, you could have students find photographs (let's say eight to ten) of several well-known buildings and structures in the United States. For each photograph, students could create a work problem and explain how to solve it. You can have them search for information about the building or structure, especially the measurements of the structure, how long it took to build it and its significance. They can then write a short paper to go along with the assignment.


When you think of science projects, you probably think of what's on display at your school science fair, perhaps interactive volcanoes that chug out fake lava or solar system models made out of Styrofoam balls. With so much emphasis being placed on technology in the classroom, why not make the science project interactive? Instead of completing a traditional research paper, students could create a PowerPoint or Prezi of a science fair project complete with a hypothesis, or theory about what will happen, as well as research questions, methods used and conclusions. Students could also use photographs, clipart or other graphics to demonstrate their science project.

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