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What you investigate or design is completely up to you.

Choosing a question to investigate, a problem to solve, or designing a prototype that fits in with your existing interests is far more likely to result in a project that you really enjoy doing. What interests you? What are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time? Are there issues you particularly care about?

When you enter the Science and Engineering Investigation Awards, you can choose to do an Investigation or an Engineering Design Project. The similarities and differences between these types of projects are briefly outlined below. You can also see a more detailed, side by side comparison here.

Not sure where to start? You might like to check out the Topic Selection Wizard at Science Buddies which helps match students to projects they may really enjoy, even in areas of science they might not have initially considered.

What's it like doing an investigation?

Check out these student experiences

Your project should fit into one of the following categories:

Agricultural Science

Does your project relate to growing and/or producing food and/or fibre? This category includes forestry, horticulture, food processing, plant breeding, soil science, animal science, plant nutrition and disease as some examples.


Does your project involve investigate building or design? This category includes mechanics, computer science, electricity and electronics, transportation, and building.

Engineering Designs

Engineers are problem-solvers, inventors, “big picture” thinkers and good communicators. They use science, maths and technology to solve real-world problems. You can find out more about what engineers do at Engineers’ Australia’s website: What is Engineering?

Environmental & Marine Science

Does your project study the interactions of living things (plants and animals) on land or sea, impacts of climate and weather, or natural resources that affect society and/or economic activity?

Physical Sciences

Does your project investigate an aspect of inanimate (non-living) natural objects? This category includes physics, chemistry, astronomy and geology topics.

Health & Wellbeing

Does your project investigate how the human body works, and what affects its functions?


Does your project investigate sustainability practices in your school or community? These may include waste management, recycling, energy use, water conservation, or local environmental regeneration as some examples.