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Notes

Scientific Method
Chapter 1: Section 2 How Scientists Work

How Scientists Work:


Solving the Problems
Much of biology deals with solving problems These problems can be environmental, ecological, health related, etc. No matter what types of problems are being studied, scientists use the same problem-solving steps called The Scientific Method

Scientific Method Definition


The scientific method is A logical and systematic approach or process to problem solving. An organized way of using evidence to learn about the natural world. According to Wikipedia - Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. It is based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning, the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

Scientific Method
Listing the Steps
Make an Observation Define the Problem Research the Problem State the Hypothesis Experiment to test Hypothesis Collect and Record Data Analyze Data Draw Conclusions Determine Limitations Report Results

If needed, Do more investigation

S C I E N T I F I C

M E T H O D

O V E R V I E W

First

Question
Then

What does the scientist want to learn more about?

Research

Gathering of information

Scientific Method
An Overview

Next

Hypothesis
Then

An Educated guess of an answer to the question

Procedure/ Method
Next

Written and carefully followed step-by-step experiment designed to test the hypothesis

Data
And

Information collected during the experiment And Written description of what was noticed during the experiment

Observations
Finally

Conclusion

Was the hypothesis correct or incorrect?

First

Question
Then

What does the scientist want to learn more about?

Research

Gathering of information

Scientific Method
An Overview

Next

Hypothesis
Then

An Educated guess of an answer to the question

Procedure/ Method
Next

Written and carefully followed step-by-step experiment designed to test the hypothesis

Data
And

Information collected during the experiment And Written description of what was noticed during the experiment

Observations
Finally

Conclusion

Was the hypothesis correct or incorrect?

S C I E N T I F I C

Hypothesis
(Experiments)

M E T H O D

O V E R V I E W

Procedures

(Conclusions)

Findings

Scientific Method

Data
(Results)
Repeat steps 3-7 for competing hypotheses. Competing hypotheses may include revisions of the original hypothesis suggested by the results of the testing process.

S Here is another C example of how the O I steps may go. V E Even though we E show the scientific N method as a series T M R in of steps, keep I mind E new that V information or F T I thinking might I cause a scientist to H C up andE back repeat stepsO any W at point during the process. D

Make Observations

Form a Define / Identify Hypothesis the Problem

Test Hypothesis Perform Experiments


New Experiments Organize and Analyze Data

NO

Do Experiments and Observations Support Hypothesis?

Faulty Experiments?

YES

Communicate Results

Draw Valid Conclusions

Scientific Method
Lets break each of these steps down into their individual components:
Ask Question Do Background Research Construct Hypothesis Test with an Experiment Analyze Results Draw Conclusion Think! Try Again

Hypothesis is True

Hypothesis is False or Partially True

Report Results

1. Observing
As we all know, frogs have four legs.

Make an observation
See something unusual Frogs with incorrect number of legs!
Whats up with these froggies?

2. Questioning
Recognize, state or define the problem Must be in the form of a question The obvious question is:
What is causing these deformities?

3. Researching
Gather information related to the problem
Read, observe, measure, take samples, etc.
How frogs normally develop from eggs The % of frogs with the deformities Number of other species in the pond with deformities Previous or new pollutants in the pond Change in amount of UV (sunlight) exposure on eggs Etc.

4. Hypothesizing
A hypothesis is:
An educated guess, trial answer, possible solution, prediction Must be a statement Must be testable or measurable Is based on your research and previous experience

Hypothesizing
List possible explanations (alternative hypotheses) based on your previous experience (what you already know); and on research you have done all of the hypotheses must be testable (no demons allowed!)

Hypothesizing
Some possible explanationsetc.)Aliens from+ Roll spaceSomething outer Chemical ElseGenetic (virus, parasite, UltravioletPollutionDisease mutation-Music- (hypotheses) Loud RockRadiationfor thehypothesis is true, then: frog deformities: Ifthis hypothesis this IfGenetic mutation is true, then: Another possibility that we might think of You shouldbe able to find true, disease-causing should be If this hypothesis is a likely chemical seems Wepredation able to find thethen: pollutant in Sorry, frog ponds isChemical or cannibalism, which the deformed Pollution agent matebe able to measure at the deformed parasites) unusually Webe theexample,isolate the chemical from high shouldbedeformed frogs the offspring If we (forthis explanation for certain kinds You should best is testable, able to the to Okay, UV radiation at deformed frog sites pond this is Radiation Ultraviolet frog pondsnotsimilar deformities levels of should show allowed because water of should be able to find these same levels to limbs). Wedeformities (frogs with missingchemical can use the parasites in the butdeformitiesor parasitethen, the You WHY test it??? or...?) able show that Theshould be testable using at minimum: itDiseasefrogs toshould beinfairly uniform the isthe exact same deformities of isolated not(virussame kindsthe the lab If this deformed exact cause the induce hypothesis is true, Loudreal)& Roll Music you may havepond Rockfind frogs and/ordeformities in and should able to use the same parasite to predictable (getare minimalMethod. other already These Weshould be predictions; We Scientific lab The you think evidence that should onlyin the Aliens the fact other kinds thought ofwith of same predictions based have induce the exactthat chemical pollution legs on be critters from outer space their should this Can particular deformitiesof deformitiesaffect Sheesh! else or that other organisms from the all four limbs equally, founddamaged or bitten off Something lab hypothesis? species been in one
same ponds should show deformities as well

5. Experimenting
Testing the hypothesis Pick the hypothesis that makes the most sense and is easy to test Then design a controlled experiment

Experimenting
Go to the web site for Hartwick College to see the experiments and how the scientific method was actually used to find out the cause of recently found frog deformities.
http://www.hartwick.edu/biology/def_frogs/I ntroduction/Exploration/explore.html

Experimenting
Lets look at the text book example of the Scientific Method using Redis Experiment on Spontaneous Generation He was trying to disprove the idea of Spontaneous Generation (or actually that flies came from maggots, which came from flies)
Francesco Redi (1668)

Stating the Problem


Example: How do new living things come into being? Spontaneous generation once commonly accepted Redi wanted to show what caused the appearance of maggots (and then flies) on meat

Belief based on prior observations


If leaf lands on water it becomes a fish If bale of hay left in barn it produces mice Muddy soil gives rise to frogs Meat hung out in the market is the source of flies

Belief based on prior observations


Redi observed that maggots appeared on meat a few days after flies were on meat No microscope = no way to see eggs But Redi believed that maggots came from eggs that were laid by flies

Forming a Hypothesis
Redis Hypothesis:
Flies produce maggots. How could he test this?
Through a controlled experiment

Redis Controlled Experiment


Redi used two groups of jars
Jars that contained meat and no cover Jars that contained meat and gauze cover
Jars with meat
Uncovered jars Covered jars

Control and Experimental Groups


Control group: used as a standard of comparison Experimental group: the group containing the factor (variable) that has been changed (manipulated or independent variable)
Two groups of jars
Uncovered jars

Covered jars

Variables in an Experiment
Variables - Factors that can be changed Controlled Variables - all the variables that
remain constant

Manipulated Variable - (also called the Independent Variable) - factor in an experiment


that a scientist purposely changes

Responding Variable- (also called the Dependent Variable) - the outcome or results,
factor in an experiment that may change because of the manipulated variable. what a scientist wants to observe

Setting up a Controlled Experiment


In a controlled experiment,
only one factor is changed at a time.

Independent variable:
the factor that is deliberately changed

Dependent variable:
the factor that the scientist wants to observe; it changes in response to the independent variable

Variables in Redis Experiment


Controlled Variables: jars, type of meat,
location, temperature, time

Manipulated Variables:
gauze covering that keeps flies away from meat

Lets think about this.


1. Which is the control group? Uncovered jars 2. Which is the experimental group?
Covered jars Two groups of Jars with meat
Uncovered jars Covered jars

Redis Experiment on Spontaneous Generation


OBSERVATIONS: Flies land on meat that is left uncovered. Later, maggots appear on the meat.
HYPOTHESIS: Flies produce maggots. PROCEDURE Covered jars

Uncovered jars
Controlled Variables: jars, type of meat, location, temperature, time Several days pass Manipulated Variables: gauze covering that keeps flies away from meat

Responding Variable: whether maggots appear

Maggots appear

No maggots appear

CONCLUSION: Maggots form only when flies come in contact with meat. Spontaneous
generation of maggots did not occur.

6. Collect and Record Data


Data: observations and measurements
made in an experiment

Types of Recorded Data


Quantitative - observations that involve measurements/numbers; i.e. 3 days, 12 maggots, 4 g, 13 sec, 8 liters Qualitative - observations that do not involve numbers, are of a descriptive nature i.e. white maggots covered the meat, leaves were all wilting

7. Analyze the Data


Examine data tables, charts, and graphs Examine experimental notes Look for trends, patterns, and averages What does the data show Put your data into words

8. Draw Conclusions
Restate the hypothesis: Example: Flies produce maggots. Accept or reject the hypothesis. Support your conclusion with specific, numerical data. What was Redis conclusion? Flies lay eggs too small to be seen. Maggots found on rotting meat are produced from the eggs laid by flies. Maggots are not appearing due to spontaneous generation!

9. Determine Limitations
Scientists look for possible flaws in their research They look for faulty (inaccurate) data They look for experimental error or bias's They decide on the validity of their results They make suggestions for improvement or raise new questions

10. Publish Results


Communication is an essential part of science
Scientists report their results in journals, on the internet, or at conferences This allows their experiments to be evaluated and repeated Scientists can build on previous work of other scientists

Redis experiment on insects generation

Repeating the Investigation


Sometimes results are unexpected.
Repeat the experiment!
John Needham challenged Redis experiment and designed his own to show that spontaneous generation CAN occur under certain circumstances. Lazzaro Spallanzini designed a slightly different experiment to improve on Needhams work

Repeating the Experiment


(continued)

Louis Pasteur further modified the experiment.

Scientific Method How Scientists Work Solving the Problems


The reason scientific work is called RE-search rather than just "search " is because it is an ongoing process that often times changes our view of the natural world. It is subject to modification in light of new evidence and new ways of thinking.

S C I E N T I F I C

M E T H O D

R E V I E W

Can you put these steps in order?


2
7 10 6 8

Define the Problem

Analyze Data

Report Results

Make an Observation

State the Hypothesis

Determine Limitations

the Problem

Steps of Scientific Method in order


1
2 3 4 5

Make an Observation

Define the Problem

the Problem

State the Hypothesis

10

Analyze Data

Determine Limitations

Report Results

Scientific Theory
A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers

Scientific Law
Scientific laws represent the cornerstone of scientific discovery They must be simple, true, universal, and absolute If a law ever did not apply, then all science based upon that law would collapse

Scientific Method