Put it to the Test - They Might Be GiantsIf there's a question bothering your brainThat you think you know how to explainYou need a test....yeah, think up a test
If it's possible to prove it wrongYou're going to want to know before too longYou'll need a test
If somebody says they figured it outAnd they're leaving any room for doubtCome up with a test...yeah, you need a test
Are you sure that that thing is true?Or did someone just tell it to you?Come up with a test
Test it outFind a way to show what would happenIf you were incorrect.

Test it out.A fact is just a fantasyUnless it can be checkedMake a test...Test it out
If you want to know if it's the truthThen, my friend, you are going to need proofCome up with a testYeah, you need a test
Don't believe it 'cause they say it's soIf it's not true, you have a right to knowPut it to the test (put it to the test)Yeah, test it out (put it to the test)Yeah, put it to the test (put it to the test)

 

 

 

□ Form a testable question from observations

Science is the process of understanding how the universe works. Scientists look for patterns and relationships and will often use math to explain the things they see. In order to "know" anything about something you first must observe using your senses.

The five senses are probably already known to you.

Sight

Sound

Smell

Taste

Touch

Who

What

Where

A scientist uses the senses to carefully observe his or her surroundings. You'll find that when you start observing on purpose you will notice things that you never experienced before. From those new experiences, questions should arise.

Why does this happen? How does this work?

Let your brain start storming!

Discover what makes you wonder.

The more you observe, the more you will begin to question.

When

Why

How

 

Pick a spot in your backyard or a park and have a comfortable seat. Use a journal to write down everything your senses tell you no matter how trivial. The color of the sky, the smell of the air, the sounds that you encounter, ...and so on. How many things were new to you?

After you have observed and gathered as much information as possible, you form questions about the things you have witnessed. Science is the process of finding answers to these questions using a series of logical steps. In this way scientists can begin to learn the true cause of the things they see. In other cases we can identify the effects of the things that happen.

People use this process everyday, sometimes without even knowing it is "scientific".
mechanic
What must I change to "fix" the car?
business owner

Will I make more of a profit if I advertise on the radio or TV?

parent
If I take away Johnny's television privileges, will he change his behavior?
police officer
How did this accident have to happen for the cars to end up in these positions?
football player
How can I get past that defensiveman? Nothing I have done is working!

 

The verb affect means "to influence something",

The noun effect means "the result of"

 

If something affects you, it usually has an effect on you.

 

All questions are good questions. Each one shows your inquisitive nature and a desire to know why and how things operate. Unfortunately not all questions are testable. This means that you would not be able to design a test to answer the question.

We'll talk about FOUR good reasons why a question isn't testable.

Reason #1: A question is NOT testable if...

we do not have the correct equipment or materials

 

You want to know the actual skin color of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. No preserved skin samples have been found and you have not invented the time machine to see for yourself. You do not have the correct materials or equipment to measure the things you seek.

 

Reason #2: A question is NOT testable if...

we can't ethically or legally do the experiment

There are many things that are testable but would not be allowable by moral and/or legal standards. Even if you don't like spiders, it would not be ethical (moral) to rip off the legs of one to see if it could still make a web.

The Nazis performed many "experiments" on people during the time surrounding World War II. These tests are too graphic to go into here but trust me when I say...

Just because something can be done, it doesn't mean that it should be done.

 

Reason #3: A question is NOT testable if...

the experiment is not REPEATABLE

Testing gravity is repeatable. It never fails to make things fall towards the center of the Earth. Science can only answer questions that deal with repeatable events in the physical universe. Once you go outside of that, the logic of the scientific method simply doesn't apply. Unfortuantely this is where we find some of the BIG questions that humans try to answer.

For example, science will never be 100% certain about how the universe began. There will be evidence pointing toward theories but fact is not possible through science.

Why? The creation of the universe is not repeatable nor is it something we could witness and observe. If you can't repeat it, you can't test out variables with it.

Even with a "time machine" we wouldn't be able to witness the beginning of time. We would need to show up before time began to see the beginning of time.

How does a time machine go before there was time?

 

Reason #4: A question is NOT testable if...

it is based on opinion and/or emotion

Can you measure how much you love something?

Can you measure how hungry you are?

Can you measure how pretty something is?

Can you measure how much pain you feel?

Can you measure awesome, incredible, huge or massive?

No, there is no such thing as a love-o-meter.

No, there is no such thing as a hunger-o-meter.

No, there is no such thing as a prettymeter.

No, we can measure mass but not massive.

Not really, even

 

While it may be hilarious to make a bar graph of your favorite pies, (you should see my pie graph of my favorite candy bars) it isn't very solid science. Opinons are not factual but they can be helpful at times.

Taste tests, smell tests, political opinion polls and marketing research surveys are done all the time to learn what people are thinking or what they like. While polls and surveys can be done "scientifically" but they are called soft sciences because they are based on OPINIONS and FEELINGS.

Rotten Tomatoes is a site that tracks movie data. If 60% or more of the critics liked a movie it gets a red tomato symbol. if not, it receives a green, rotton tomato symbol. This is based on OPINION.

Other data records the number of theaters the movie is playing in as well as the money that it has made. This data is based on fact.

Watch out for ads that pass opinion off for fact. The woman on the billboard does not exist. She is more like a Disney character created in a computer than real. Mixing fact and opinion will distort what we believe to be real. It is practically impossible to be as "pretty" as the woman in the ad.

Stick to the facts .

 

 

□ Create a valid hypothesis

Take the question you would like to test and reword it into an “if – then” statement. The statement should show your educated guess at what will happen. Do not write a hypothesis that is unsure or unclear. Words like might or should are not clearly defined statements to be tested.

Don't be afraid of guessing incorrectly. Science is about making a guess and then looking for evidence to support your view. Many times you will find exactly the opposite. Other times you won't find enough data at all. Either way, the scientific method allows us to find a logical answer to the questions we propose.

The basic form of the hypothesis

IF
the independent variable is changed
THEN
the dependent variable will change
COMPARED TO
what normally happens (the control group)

□ Design a valid experiment

 

A scientific experiment must have THREE types of variables

and it must have a CONTROL to compare the data to.

 

ONE

independent variable

● the thing that “I” change

● it is the “if” part of a hypothesis

● there can only be one, otherwise nothing can be proven definitively (Remember that the roman numeral 1 is an "I")

● If the variable is impossible to change, the hypothesis is not testable.

ONE

dependent variable

● the “data” variable

● it is the variable being measured

● it is “dependent” on the independent variable and will change based on its relationship to the independent variable.

MILLIONS of

constant variables

● any other variable that must remain the same throughout the experiment

● variables that are not held constant become additional independent variables. As a result no conclusions can be made because too many things were changed.

● If variables cannot be held constant then the hypothesis is likely not testable. Feel free to make observations though. You may still be able to gather some evidence to support a theory.

CONTROL

● the control is what normally would happen

● the control is exactly like the experimental group EXCEPT for the independent variable

● Without a control, the scientist doesn't really know how much or how little the experiment worked.

 

Is this a valid experiment? The Office (1 min)

 

What about the clip from Conan O'Brien below? Can you identify the pieces of the experiements being done?

 

 

Here's a silly experiment to show the parts

Observations and Questions

● Hmm, water seems to make plants grow well.I wonder if soda would do any better ?

Hypothesis

 

● If a plant has soda added to it on a daily basis then it will grow taller than a plant with water added daily.

 

Experiment

CONSTANT VARIABLES:

same type plants
same room temperature
same pots
same type of soil
same amount of soil
same amount of light
same liquid temperature
same amount of liquid

INDEPENDENT VARIABLE:

Type of liquid given to the plant (soda, milk, OJ etc.)

DEPENDENT VARIABLE:

Height of plant (cm)

CONTROL GROUP:

Plant with water added like normal

 

 

 

• Write a detailed procedure (set of instructions) for anyone to duplicate your experiment. If no one can do your test again, no one will believe your results.

 

□ Analyze the data of an experiment for patterns and relationships

A graph is a picture version of data in the form of bars, lines or pies.

Bar Graph

– used to compare groups of data

● a straight edge must be used

● each new bar can be a different color especially when they are new categories

● space must be left between bars

● 3-D bar graphs are fun but must be drawn with the same angle off of each corner to look correct. Use a darker shade of the bar’s color on the 3-D section.

 

Line Graph

– used to show up/down patterns in data

plot data points (x, y) lightly

● a straight edge must be used to connect each dot

● only connect the dots when you want to see specific up and down trends

● make a “best-fit line” when you are looking for a general trend in the data

● each new line should be a different color and labeled

Pie Graph

– used to percentages of a group of data

a straight edge and template must be used

● each new pie should be a different color

● all sections must be labeled with the category name and its %

● make certain you title the graph

  A graph is somewhat like a football game.
Why do we graph data?

People interpret things differently when presented in picture form. We use a different part of our brain when we look at numbers and then look at a picture. Why not get your entire brain to help you solve a problem?

It is quicker to read the results of an experiment from a well made graph than from a data table.

How do we graph data?

HERE

is a more detailed set of graphing instructions

 

 

 

• Look for trends and patterns that might show a relationship between the independent and dependent variables

 

 

□ Form conclusions and predictions using data of an experiment

Form conclusions using the data

Science is about learning from the experiment. Whether you were correct or not with your hypothesis, you can still learn something about the question you were posing.

Think of the hypothesis like a tabletop and the data from your experiment like the legs.

If the evidence supports the hypothesis it is like the legs supporting a tabletop.

If the evidence does not support the hypothesis it is as if the tabletop has no legs and has fallen to the floor

 

A good conclusion is made up of three sections
1. Hypothesis
Write your hypothesis and then explain if the data support your hypothesis or not?
2. Data
Describe the data in detail. What trends and patterns do you see? What errors do you see in the experiment?
3. Science
Use your knowledge of physics to explain the data. Why did it happen the way it did?

 

Find the errors in your ways

Use the data to determine what you would do differently to minimize error.

Every experiment has some form of potential error. Much of what we learn from experimentation is how to do better the next time. Every time humans are involved, there is potential human error.

What things could or did go wrong during your experiment?

What can you do to keep it from happening again?

 

Form predictions using the data

After your experiment is finished it should allow you some insight into other situations.

"Wow!" said Jim "I learned in school that a dog can learn to salivate at the sound of a bell when it has been trained to eat with the bell. If that's true then if I offer Dwight an Altoid every time I reboot my computer he should crave the mint when he hears the sound."

The office clip (1 min)

 

□ Satisfactorily communicate (orally and written) the results of an experiment

• This is the most important step. There is no use for scientific research unless people benefit from your knowledge. Use words, graphs, and charts to clearly communicate your findings to others. Imagine inventing the refrigerator, curing cancer, or finding out that the Earth is round and never telling anyone. What a colossal waste!