Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

 

Melissa Webster

Hastings-On-Hudson High School, Westchester

August 2003

 

 

Design your own biological experiment

 

Introduction: Look around you! Have you ever thought, HmmI wonder why that happens? If you have asked yourself that question, you were thinking like a scientist!

This year the members of our class will be undertaking a long-term scientific experiment. Each student will come up with his or her own idea of something to research. The topic you choose must somehow be related to biology. To help facilitate your research, a graduate student from Columbia University will be coming in to assist us in the scientific process. This student will meet with our class once a month to help the class formulate ideas for experimentation and to carry out the experiments. A majority of the work that you do will be done on your own time as part of homework assignments. However, between the graduate student, and myself you will get plenty of assistance!

 

The project!

 

  1. Pick a research project. Is there something about plants, animals, the human body, bacteria, ecology, or the environment that you really wonder about? Perhaps you have a question based on something you have observed. Can you form a testable hypothesis for this project? Is this something you think you can do on your own or with the help of the graduate student and me?
  2. Discuss your project with a teacher. Once you come up with an idea, discuss it with the graduate student or me. We will help you determine how realistic the project is and assist you in getting started.
  3. Do research. Start to read articles related to your project. This will help you to form a hypothesis and decide what your plan of action should be.
  4. Form a hypothesis. What is it that you think will happen when you carry out your experiment? Remember, there is no right or wrong hypothesis. The hypothesis only needs to be a reasonable assumption based on observation and past research. Your experimentation will answer the question.
  5. Design your experiment. How exactly are you going to test your hypothesis? Remember here that you need to have a control group or groups that will ultimately support your final conclusions. If you are having difficulty deciding on a control group be sure to ask the graduate student or me for assistance.

      Also included in this step is designing a method for data collection. How will you document the data you need to collect to prove your hypothesis?

  1. Run your experiment. Come to me if you need additional equipment besides items you can get on your own. I will help you as best as I can to get all the necessary materials to do the experiment.
  2. Analyze your data. How are you going to display the data that you collect? Will you use graphs, and if so what kind? Will you have charts or pictures?
  3. Discussion of results. This is where you discuss what happened in your experiment and come to a conclusion about your findings. Was your hypothesis proven to be correct, or did your findings fail to support your hypothesis? Why do you think this happened? What could be done to further this research?
  4. Present your research findings to the class. All students will present a power point presentation to the class on their findings. You will have a maximum of 15 20 minutes to present. We will discuss this aspect of the project in greater detail, as we get closer to the end of experimentation. 

 

Standards Addressed:

Science Teaching Standards: A, B, D, E

Assessment Standards: A, B, C

Science Content Standards: A, C, E, F, G

 

Assessment: For each of the parts of the project, the following point totals will be possible. The rubrics provided will be used to grade each part of the assignment.

 

Points Possible:

 

Participation in monthly seminars with graduate students:

50

Experimental Design

50

Data analysis and Conclusions

50

PowerPoint presentation:

100

  

Participation Rubric: modified from the following website

http://www.siue.edu/~deder/partrub.html

 

Rubric Score Standard

10

8

6

4

2

Enters into class discussion

Almost always

Frequently

Occasionally

Seldom

Never

Offers questions or comments during class

Almost always

Frequently

Occasionally

Seldom

Never

Seeks out help of teachers

Almost always

Frequently

Occasionally

Seldom

Never

Skips Class

Never

Seldom

Occasionally

Frequently

Almost Always

Exhibits disruptive behavior

Never

Seldom

Occasionally

Frequently

Almost Always

  

 

Experimental Design: modified from the following website:

http://www-ed.fnal.gov/help/97/sightsound/proprub.html

 

Rubric Score Standard

10

6

2

Identify Problem

Identified a question which they found interesting and testable; utilized literature search to develop a hypothesis which was reasonable.

Identified a question, which they found interesting and testable.

 

The purpose is incomplete, too easy to attain, or does not follow from your research.

Variables Clearly Defined

Variables which are to be changed (independent) and variables that are going to be measured are clearly defined and will result in a thorough study of the defined purpose.

Variables which are to be changed (independent) and variables that are going to be measured are clearly defined.

Variables which are to be changed (independent) and variables that are going to be measured are not clearly defined.

Hypothesis

Utilized Literature Search to develop a hypothesis which was reasonable and well substantiated with research.

Utilized Literature Search to develop a hypothesis which was reasonable.

Hypothesis is not complete or does not flow logically from research

Procedure

A well thought out, sequential (step-by-step) procedure is stated that ANYONE could look at and follow. It holds high promise for collecting the information sought. Measurements to be made are systematic and logically controlled (changing one variable at a time) and are repeated to improve reliability of data.

 

A well thought out, sequential (step-by-step) procedure is stated that ANYONE could look at and follow. It holds high promise for collecting the information sought. The measurements to be made are systematic and logically controlled (changing one variable at a time).

 

The procedure is incomplete, not sequential, or takes effort on the part of the reader to follow. It may not be systematic or logically controlled (perhaps your group has defined many variables to vary at once and have not clearly decided how to measure all variables.)

 

Data Interpretation Plan

Plans for displaying the collected data are clearly laid out. Thoughts for ambitious analysis of data (graphical analysis, etc.) are clearly communicated.

 

Plans for displaying the collected data are clearly laid out. Thoughts for thorough analysis of data (graphical analysis, etc.) are clearly communicated.

 

The plan is incomplete or does not logically match with the data your group has decided to collect.

 

  

Data Analysis and Conclusions: modified from the following websites

http://www-ed.fnal.gov/help/97/sightsound/resdirub.html

http://www-ed.fnal.gov/help/97/sightsound/datarub.html

 

 

10

6

2

Data Tables

Data tables are clearly labeled and in column form. Column headings are accompanied by units. Data is logical with inconsistent data (resulting from inaccurate measurement techniques) identified and removed.

Data tables are clearly labeled and in column form. Column headings are accompanied by units. Data is logical.

 

Data tables are hard to follow, incomplete or missing.

Graphs or other means of analyzing results

Graphs accurately represent the data and are accurately interpreted in the conclusion.

 

Graphs accurately represent the data, but are not fully interpreted in the conclusion

Graphs are missing, incomplete or inaccurate.

 

Procedure and tested variable Summary

The project and tested variables are elaborately summarized.

 

The project and tested variables are briefly summarized.

 

The project and tested variables are not summarized completely or are not present.

 

Errors

Errors are clearly identified and the impact of these errors on data and conclusions are also identified and discussed.

Errors are clearly identified.

 

Errors are not clearly identified.

Project Extensions

Ideas for future study of the project's topic along with suggestions for the project's improvement are identified.

Ideas for future study of the project's topic are identified.

Few or no ideas for future study of the project's topic along with suggestions for the project's improvement are present.

 

 

 POWER POINT PRESENTATION RUBRIC:

Obtained from the following website: http://www.grant.k12.ca.us/schools/rlsr/MBM/Departments/English/KaplanD/page8.html

 

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