Experimental Design


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How to conduct a valid experiment in a middle school science class.

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Experimental Design

  1. 1. Experimental Design How to conduct a valid experiment.
  2. 2. A Good Experiment <ul><li>Tests one variable at a time. If more than one thing is tested at a time, it won’t be clear which variable caused the end result. </li></ul><ul><li>Must be fair and unbiased . This means that the experimenter must not allow his or her opinions to influence the experiment. </li></ul><ul><li>Does not allow any outside factors to affect the outcome of the experiment. </li></ul>
  3. 3. A Good Experiment <ul><li>Is valid . The experimental procedure must test your hypothesis to see if it is correct. </li></ul><ul><li>If the procedure does not test your hypothesis, the experiment is not valid and the data will make no sense! </li></ul><ul><li>Has repeated trials . Repeating the trials in the experiment will reduce the effect of experimental errors and give a more accurate conclusion. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Variables <ul><li>A variable is anything in an experiment that can change or vary. </li></ul><ul><li>It is any factor that can have an effect on the outcome of the experiment. </li></ul><ul><li>There are three main types of variables. </li></ul>
  5. 5. 3 Kinds of Variables <ul><li>Independent Variable (IV) </li></ul><ul><li>– something that is intentionally changed by the scientist </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is tested </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is manipulated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Also called a “Manipulated Variable” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You can only change ONE variable in an experiment!!! </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. 3 Kinds of Variables <ul><li>Independent Variable (IV) </li></ul><ul><li>To determine the independent variable, ask yourself: </li></ul><ul><li>“ What is being changed?” </li></ul><ul><li>Finish this sentence… </li></ul><ul><li>“ I will change the _____________” </li></ul>
  7. 7. Independent Variable <ul><li>Levels of the IV </li></ul><ul><li>These are different ways you will change the independent variable </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Assume you are testing five brands of popcorn to see which has the most unpopped kernels. </li></ul><ul><li>The IV would be the different brands of popcorn. </li></ul><ul><li>The five different brands would be the different levels of the IV. </li></ul>
  8. 8. 3 Kinds of Variables <ul><li>Dependent Variable (DV) </li></ul><ul><li>– something that might be affected by the change in the independent variable </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is observed and measured </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The data collected during the investigation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Also called a “Responding Variable” </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. 3 Kinds of Variables <ul><li>Dependent Variable (DV) </li></ul><ul><li>To determine the dependent variable, ask yourself: </li></ul><ul><li>“ What will I measure and observe?” </li></ul><ul><li>Finish this sentence… </li></ul><ul><li>“ I will measure and observe ________________” </li></ul>
  10. 10. Dependent Variable <ul><li>Operational Definition: </li></ul><ul><li>Define exactly how the dependent variable will be measured. </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Assume your DV in an experiment is “plant growth.” How will you measure this?! It could be… </li></ul><ul><li>Height (cm), mass (g), # of leaves, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Be specific and include all necessary units! </li></ul>
  11. 11. 3 Kinds of Variables <ul><li>Controlled Variable (CV) – a variable that is not changed and kept the same </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Also called constants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Allows for a “fair test” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NOT the same as a “control”!! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Any given experiment will have many controlled variables </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. 3 Kinds of Variables <ul><li>Controlled Variable (CV) To determine the controlled variables, ask yourself: </li></ul><ul><li>“ What should not be allowed to change?” </li></ul><ul><li>Finish this sentence… </li></ul><ul><li>“ I will not allow the ______________ to change.” </li></ul>
  13. 13. Control <ul><li>A group or individual in the experiment that is not tested, but is used for comparison as a reference for what “normal” would be like. </li></ul><ul><li>Not all experiments have a control (though all experiments have controlled variables). </li></ul><ul><li>Example: If you tested different pollutants to see their affect on plant growth, the control would only receive water. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Here are some different examples:
  15. 15. Students of different ages were given the same jigsaw puzzle to put together. They were timed to see how long it took to finish the puzzle.
  16. 16. Identify the variables in this investigation!
  17. 17. What was the independent variable? <ul><li>Ages of the students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Different ages were tested by the scientist </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. What was the dependent variable? <ul><li>The time it to put the puzzle together </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The time was observed and measured by the scientist </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. What was a controlled variable? <ul><li>Same puzzle </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All of the participants were tested with the same puzzle. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It would not have been a fair test if some had an easy 30 piece puzzle and some had a harder 500 piece puzzle. </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Another example:
  21. 21. An investigation was done with an electromagnetic system made from a battery and wire wrapped around a nail. Different sizes of nails were used. The number of paper clips the electromagnet could pick up was measured.
  22. 22. What are the variables in this investigation?
  23. 23. Independent variable: <ul><li>Sizes of nails </li></ul><ul><ul><li>These were changed by the scientist. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They used different sizes of nails in their experiment to see what effect that would have. </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Dependent variable: <ul><li>Number of paper clips picked up </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The number of paper clips were observed and counted (measured) </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Controlled variables: <ul><li>Battery, wire, type of nail </li></ul><ul><ul><li>None of these items were changed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They had used the same battery, same wire, and same type of nail. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Changing any of these things would have made it an unfair test. </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Here’s another:
  27. 27. The temperature of water was measured at different depths of a pond.
  28. 28. <ul><li>Independent variable – depth of the water </li></ul><ul><li>Dependent variable – temperature </li></ul><ul><li>Controlled variables – same pond; same thermometer </li></ul>
  29. 29. Last one:
  30. 30. Students modified paper airplanes by cutting pieces off, adding tape, or adding paper clips to increase the distance thrown.
  31. 31. <ul><li>Independent variable – weight of plane, center of gravity, air resistance (depended on student choice-but only one was tested) </li></ul><ul><li>Dependent variable – distance thrown </li></ul><ul><li>Controlled variables – same plane design; same paper; same throwing technique </li></ul>
  32. 32. Now let’s take what we know about these variables and use them in an experiment!
  33. 33. We are going to test how many drops of water will fit on different sized coins. <ul><li>Let’s think about how we could test this. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify the variables </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What exactly will be changed? How will it be changed? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What exactly will be measured? How will it be measured? </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. <ul><li>Independent variable – size of the coin (penny, nickel, dime, quarter) </li></ul><ul><li>Dependent variable – amount of water held on coin (# of drops) </li></ul><ul><li>Controlled variables </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Same eye dropper </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Same water </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Same side of coin (pick heads or tails) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Same technique (height/angle of dropper) </li></ul></ul>What are my variables ?
  35. 35. Are there any questions?!