Posted: April 4th, 2015
Scientific inquiry in biology starts by observing the living species around you. What separates science from the other methods of seeking truth is that it is testable (e.g., one can devise experiments to test the validity of an idea); it is falsifiable (e.g., an experiment can reveal if an idea is false); and it involves natural causality (e.g., the method involves and depends upon the natural laws of the universe which cause things to happen in a predictable and repeatable manner).
Observation: Scientific inquiry begins when something interesting gets your attention.
Question: Following an observation, a question arises in your mind. It may be something like “I wonder what?” or, “I wonder how? or, “I wonder why?”
In this assignment, you will take a look at the scientific method. You will design a (fictional) scientific study to answer a specific question based upon an observation.
First, choose 1 of the following observations or questions:
Observation: During the winter, you spread salt daily on your driveway to melt the snow. In the springtime, when the lawn begins to grow, you notice that there is no grass growing for about 3 inches from the driveway. Furthermore, the grass seems to be growing more slowly up to about 1 foot from the driveway.
Question: Might grass growth be inhibited by salt?
Observation: You and your neighbor have small kitchen gardens where you both grow tomatoes. His blotchy green and red tomatoes taste much sweeter than your perfectly uniform red ones.
Question: Might tomato sweetness be effected by the green chloroplasts in the fruits?
Observation: You went to the bakery to get a loaf of bread, but all of the loaves seemed small. The baker said that he used the same recipe and tested to be sure the yeast in the dough was active, but the machine he used broke down during the kneading process. Because the bread rose, he decided that it had developed enough gluten, and he baked it off anyway.
Question: Does yeast need air to make bread rise?
After choosing 1 of the above options (observation and question), you will do some library or Internet research about the subject. Once you have become familiar with the topic, propose a testable hypothesis to answer the question, and follow the rest of scientific method to determine if your hypothesis is correct by designing a controlled experiment.
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