CREST Silver criteria guidance

CREST Silver criteria guidance

Below are the CREST criteria with a breakdown of what's expected at Silver level with examples.   The examples are designed as an illustration of how the criteria might be met but are in no way designed to be exhaustive or prescriptive.

Watch our CREST Explained: The CREST Criteria to learn more. 

1 – Planning the project

1.1 The student set a clear aim for the project and broke it down into smaller objectives
The student communicated their project aim in broad terms, and specific objectives that were required to achieve the aim. They showed a clear understanding of the differences between the two.
Aim: To investigate which crisp is the ‘healthiest’ by assessing fat and salt.

  1. Research the consequences of a diet high in fat.
  2. Review existing brands of crisps and consider their health claims e.g. ‘low in fat’
  3. Design and complete an experiment to extract and measure the fat and salt in crisps and compare to the values on the packet.
  4. Survey students to discover favoured crisp brands and link this to fat content.  
1.2 The student explained a wider purpose for the project
The student considered the broader implications of their project in depth e.g. societal or commercial benefits beyond the direct application.
This research is vital for future improvements of aircraft, wind turbines and other power systems. The properties of the three-dimensional vortices may allow for more efficient aeronautical structures, which could revolutionise flight and energy systems.
1.3 The student identified a range of approaches to the project

This criterion is about how the project as a whole will be achieved and not just the method for any experiments undertaken. Remember that there are different types of CREST projects
The student identified a range of possible and relevant approaches to achieving their aim. They explored the pros and cons of each.
To achieve my project’s aim of, “finding the healthiest crisp” I could use multiple approaches.

I could perform a series of surveys, with people answering how frequently and the type of crisps they eat, and comparing this with a measures of their health (either self-reported or by getting them to do test to measure their health).

The benefits of approach are that I can get a large amount of data, as filling out surveys is quick and easy. The downsides are that it will be difficult to get any conclusive results. This is because there are lots of factors that could affect someone’s health e.g. amount of exercise, age, diet (excluding crisps).

I could carry out practical experiments on different crisps to measure their nutritional value. These tests could be to measure their calorific values, and the amount of sugar, salt and fats in 100g of crisps.

The benefits to this approach are that the experiments proposed are relatively easy and quick to carryout. This means that I will be able to carry out the experiments multiple times, increasing the chances of reliable and conclusive results.The difficulty to this method is relating it back to people’s health. Also, there are a large variety of crisps – different brands, flavours, potato or other type of crisp etc. This means I will need to find a way to narrow down the crisps that I will test in these ways.
1.4 The student described their plan for the project and why they chose that approach

This criterion is about stating the plan for the project at a high-level with students reflecting on and justifying their choices.
The student communicated their approach – identifying the key activities and milestones.

They provided the reasoning for their chosen approach. 
We have decided to take the research-based approach, as we have limited access to facilities and equipment which we would need for the practical approaches. By doing a research project, we will be able to devote all our time to gathering data and producing our project, rather than having to learn new practical skills and experiment techniques, which would have to do for the practical approach.

Our approach will involve:
  1. Doing initial background research (each group member will take a separate topic)
  2. Presenting our findings to the group and decide which specific strand of research we want to pursue as a group
  3. Doing further research as a group on the specific topic
  4. Identifying the specific research questions that we want to answer and form hypotheses to test
  5. Collecting and analysing open-source data
  6. Drawing our conclusions and writing up our project. 
1.5 The student planned and organised their time well

This criterion is about evidencing their plan. For this criterion we want to see something explicit like a breakdown of timings and dates or a timeline or Gantt chart, depending on the project’s Award level. It’s insufficient for students to only state that they planned.

Note that the plan should cover the whole project, from planning and researching; to gathering data; to analysing results and drawing conclusions; to reflecting and presenting the project.
The student produced a detailed plan for their project – detailing the key tasks, how long they will take, who will do them and when.
We structured our project in three broad sections of work.
  1. Research
  2. The experiment
  3. Writing the project up and evaluating our work

We then produced a timeline for each section of work, see figures 1-3 below.

This shows what the main tasks are, their start and end dates and which team member is responsible for doing them.

2 – Throughout the project

2.1 The student made good use of the materials and people available
The student identified, sought out and made use of the resources and people required.
See table 1 below for the list of equipment I’ll need for my experiment.

I managed to find most of the equipment and materials at school with the help of Ms Jones.

I then emailed a lot of local businesses to try find materials for my project. One recommended I get in touch with the local university. After making contact I managed to get the rest and they even offered to look at my final prototype.
2.2 The student researched the background to the project and acknowledged their sources appropriately
The student researched background information for their project. They acknowledged sources so it’s clear where information has come from, e.g in footnotes or inline references and a bibliography. The student’s research is a mix of primary and secondary evidence.
  1. Introduction to Modern Climate Change, Andrew Desller, Texas A & M University, Cambridge University Press, 2015
  2. Dean, Cornelia. "Executive on a Mission: Saving the Planet." New York Times. New York Times, 22 May 2007. Web. 25 May 2009.
  3. Gowdy, John. "Avoiding Self-organized Extinction: Toward a Co-evolutionary Economics of Sustainability." International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology 14.1 (2007): 27-36. Print.
  4. Nordhaus, William D. "After Kyoto: Alternative Mechanisms to Control Global Warming." American Economic Review 96.2 (2006): 31-34. Print.
  5. Uzawa, Hirofumi. Economic Theory and Global Warming. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print.
3 – Finalising the project

3.1 The student made logical conclusions and explained the implications for the wider world
The student drew logical and well-considered conclusions. They explored the implications of their work for the wider worlds, drawing on the project’s aim and wider purpose.
From these tests, we can deduce that Rope B, Polypropylene, is the most suitable for climbing. It is the strongest rope we tested as it had the highest breaking point and stretched the least – meaning that it can be used repeatedly without the ropes dimensions changing.

Rope C, Polyester, would not be good for climbing as it stretched very easily when a small weight was applied. It also frayed before snapping. Rope C could still be useful for some industrial processes, as it is cheap and easy to produce, but these processes must not involve large amounts of stress.

Our hypothesis was incorrect as Rope A, Nylon, was the weakest of the three ropes we tested – despite it being the only rope we did not split to create a thinner sample. It would not be good for climbing or industrial uses; however, it would be suited for the production of clothes as it is very thin, lightweight and doesn’t fray easily.
3.2 The student explained how their actions and decisions affected the project’s outcome

This criterion is about understanding how the student’s actions and decisions affected the project.
The student should be able to demonstrate a reflective approach. “I decided to do X and this changed my project in the following ways…”
The student showed a strong understanding of their project’s outcomes. They explained how their actions and decisions may have affected their project. 
I chose to carry out the experiment using X technique. After completing the experiment a few times, I realised it wasn’t the right choice, as this technique tends to give false positives. Once I discovered the first few false positives, I did more research which confirmed my findings about the technique.

My choice meant the timing of my project was affected and therefore I was not able to meet outcome Y. I managed to save the project because my teacher gave me extra time in the lab to repeat the experiment.
3.3 The student explained what they have learnt and reflected on what they could improve
The student summarised the key information they learnt and skills they developed. They reflected on what they could improve about the project if they were to either repeat the project or take it further.
The key information I learnt during my project was:
  1. That there is only a small amount of difference in sugar content between “healthy” and normal crisps.
  2. That there is a moderate difference in the amount of fat in “healthy” and normal crisps
  3. That young people (15-year olds) perceive there to be a big difference in how bad normal and “healthy” crisps are for you.
I also learnt various skills including, how to design and run a project (and how to apply the scientific method); how to measure the calorific content of a substance; and how to research, analyse and reference information sources. 

My project could be improved by having access to better (more accurate and precise) equipment. For example, I used a regular thermometer when measuring the temperature change of the water in the calorimeter. The degree of precision was very poor.
I would also try to test a larger variety of crisps – particularly American ones. A lot of the research I found (excluding the information from the NHS website) was from America and it’s unclear whether the findings from those papers can be applied directly as their crisps may be different from ours.
4 – Project-wide criteria

4.1 The student showed understanding of the science behind their project, appropriate to their level

The subject knowledge and complexity of the project should be at these levels.
Key Stage 4/Level 2

Senior phase: Fourth year – Sixth year (S4, S5, S6)

IB Diploma Programme

4.2 The student made decisions to direct the project, taking account of ethical and safety issues

Risk assessments are a good form of evidence that health and safety have been considered at Silver and Gold level.
The student lead the project and had regular access to an educator or mentor to discuss their ideas.

The students took the lead on working safely – with input from their educator/mentor.

They followed educator/mentor instructions to work in an ethical way.
We had regular check-ins as a group which our mentor came along to. The meeting notes are in appendix 2.

Our lab supervisor helped us to make a risk assessment and checked it over when we were finished this is in appendix 3.

We included things like:
  1. wear eye protection – some fibers store a lot of energy and whip dangerously when they break (medium chance, high impact)
  2. Use a safety screen – that way we won’t be hit by the fibres


We tried to reduce the amount of waste that we created, as most of the fibres were non-recyclable. We knew that we needed three results per fibre type to ensure our results were reliable. We tried to keep the number of tests to a minimum and make the most of the sample that we did have, to try and reduce waste.
4.3 The student showed creative thinking

This criterion draws on Bloom’s taxonomy.   At Silver level, the student showed evidence of working at the, “applying” and, “analysing” levels of cognition.
The student analysed different aspects of the project and applied their knowledge to explore novel outcomes and solutions.
In order to gather the data required, I needed a formula that [xxxxx].

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find such an equation.

However, I could find several formulae that had the elements of what I needed:
  1. [Formula 1]
  2. [Formula 2]
  3. [Formula 3]
I used these formulae to create the formula I needed:

[Derived formula]
4.4 The student identified and overcame problems successfully

It is highly unlikely a project was problem free. If no problems were encountered, the student should describe problems that could have occurred and how they were avoided.
The student showed they considered problems and the wider situation or cause. They thought about ways to solve the issues and deployed relevant and pragmatic solutions. 
One problem we had whilst completing our project was being able to find reliable and relevant information – because there is clearly a lot of information on the topic of space.

To overcome this, we made sure to only research content directly related to the aims we had set. We used advanced searches in Google, as well as going to reputable journals, such as [xxxx] and searching for articles there.
4.5 The student explained their project clearly, in writing or conversation
The student communicated their project clearly and concisely. They used accessible language and structured the project in a logical way. The student made use of images, graphs and tables etc. to help communicate information. The project is mostly free from spelling and grammatical errors.
The student has:
  1. Explained abbreviations. They have stated the full term the first time it is used with the abbreviation in brackets.
  2. Organised the project into a logical structure.
  3. Used concise language where possible.
  4. Used examples and evidence to back up their points.
  5. Proofread and/or practiced their presentation so it is understandable and free of simple mistakes.
  6. Made use of images, graphs and tables where appropriate

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