Scientific inquiry in biology |

Background: Scientific inquiry in biologystarts by observing the living species around us. Science is a wayof knowing. It is not the only way, but it is a good way. Otherways of knowing include mathematics, logic, history, philosophy,and theology.What separates science from the other methods of seeking truthis that it is testable (i.e. one can devise experiments to test thevalidity of an idea); it is falsifiable (i.e. an experiment canreveal if an idea is false); and, it involves natural causality(i.e. the method involves and depends upon the natural laws of theuniverse which cause things to happen in a predictable andrepeatable manner.)Observation: Scientific inquiry begins whensomething interesting gets your attention.Question: Following an observation, a questionarises in your mind. It may be something like: “I wonder what…?Or “I wonder how …? Or, “I wonder why…?Assignment details:In this assignment, we will take a look at science and thescientific method. Then, you will design a (pretend) scientificstudy to answer a specific question based upon an observation.First, choose ONE of the following Observations/Questions:Option A:Observation: During the winter, you spread saltdaily on your driveway to melt the snow. In the springtime, whenthe lawn begins to grow, you notice that there is no grass growingfor about 3 inches from the driveway. Furthermore, the grass seemsto be growing more slowly up to about 1 foot from the driveway.Question: Might grass growth be inhibited bysalt?Option B:Observation: Your neighbor added a farmer’sporch to his house and painted the ceiling of it blue. When youasked him why, he told you he had read that the sky blue ceilingwould fool wasps into thinking it was the sky and they would notbuild any nests under the eaves of the porch or along theceiling.Question: Would a blue ceiling really deterwasps from building nests on the porch?Option C:Observation: When taking a hike, you noticethat a ruby-throated hummingbird seems interested in your red hat.It hovers over the hat and then darts away.Question: Do ruby-throated hummingbirds prefersome colors more than others when visiting flowers?After choosing ONE of the above options(observation and question), you will do some library /Internetresearch about the subject. Once you have become familiar with thetopic, propose a testable hypothesis to answer the question; and,follow the rest of scientific method to determine if yourhypothesis is correct by designing a controlled experiment.You will not actually do the experiment or collectresults. Rather you will propose a workable controlled experimentand make up what would seem to be reasonable results. You will thendiscuss those imagined results and draw a conclusion (based uponyour imagined results) about whether or not to accept yourhypothesis.Complete the steps of the scientific method for yourchoice of observation and question using the directions below. Usethese headings in your paper, please.Introduction:The Introduction is an investigation of what is currently knownabout the question being asked. Before one proposes a hypothesis ordashes off to the lab to do an experiment, a thorough search ismade in the existing literature about the specific question andabout topics related to the question. Once one is familiar withwhat is known about the question under consideration, one is in aposition to propose a reasonable hypothesis to test thequestion.Hypothesis:This is an educated guess, or “best” guess, about what might bethe explanation for the question asked. A hypothesis should be aone sentence statement (not a question) that can be tested in anexperiment. The ability to test a hypothesis implies that it has anatural, repeatable cause.Prediction:What do you predict as an outcome for the controlled experiment(i.e. results) if the hypothesis is true? This should be in theform of an “If…….., then……….” statement.Controlled Experimental Method:The hypothesis is tested in a controlled experiment. Acontrolled experiment compares a “Control” (i.e.the normal, unmodified, or unrestricted, or uninhibited set-up,based on the observation) to one or several“Experimental” set-ups. The conditions in theexperimental set-ups are identical to the Control in every way,e.g. temperature, composition, shape, kind, etc.,except for the one Experimental variable that is beingtested. The results obtained from the Experimental set-ups will becompared to each other and to those obtained from the Control. Ifdone correctly, any differences in the results may be attributed tothe Experimental variable under consideration.When designing an experiment, it is important to use multiples,(i.e. replicates), for each set-up, to avoid drawing the wrongconclusion. If the experiment only has one control and only oneexperimental set up with just one test subject in each, there isalways the chance that a single living organism (test subject)could get sick or even die for reasons not caused by theexperimental variable. And, because living organisms aregenetically different, the results from just one test subject in agiven set up may not be typical for the species as a whole. Thiscould result in errors when interpreting the results. This kind ofproblem is avoided by using multiple controls and multipleexperimental set-ups with multiple test subjects.Be sure to provide sufficient details in your methodsection so that someone could reproduce your experiment.The experimental method section should also state clearly howdata (numbers) will be collected during the experiment which willbe used to compare results in each test set up.Results:Since this is a “thought experiment,” you will make up resultsaccording to what you think might happen if you actually did theexperiment.Results should include detailed raw data (numbers) rather thanjust a summary of the results. For example, if data are collecteddaily for five weeks, results should include the actual data fromeach day, and not just a summary of what happened at the end of thefive weeks. Recorded results should match the experimentalmethod.Conclusion:In this section, state clearly whether you reject or accept thehypothesis based on the (pretend) results. Discuss what this meansin terms of the hypothesis, such as the need for additionalexperiments, or the practical uses or implications of theresults.Provide references in APA format. This includes a reference listand in-text citations for references used in the Introductionsection.Give your paper a title and number and identify each section asspecified above. Although the hypothesis and prediction will be onesentence answers, the other sections will need to be paragraphs toadequately explain your experiment.

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