Biology experiment report

Working alone or with a partner you will do a simple biology experiment outside of class and write a scientific paper on your topic. The experiment is worth a total of 100 points as described in the deadline section, below.

Pay special attention to the deadlines – missing deadlines will hurt your grade even if the final report is excellent.

Assignments are due at the start of your class, although individual instructors may move a date by a week or two.

Each student must write his or her own draft and final report, even if you worked with a partner.

Copying even parts of the text (not the results) will yield a 0 score for all persons involved and probably a loss of participation points and campus discipline.

Write your own report and do not share it! Do not turn in 1 report with 2 names; you will both get 0 points.

If your words match those of any web site we find you will receive 0 points and campus discipline.

Deadlines:

Due Date

Assignment

Points

Criteria

9/9 – 9/12

Proposal

20

One-page proposal that includes: Hypothesis,

Identification of dependent and independent variables,

Materials list (indicate those that must be provided by your instructor)

Outline of the steps in the proposed method including controls, if applicable, and when, where, and how you plan to do the experiment

10/28 – 10/31

First Draft

30

Two to three page first draft of your report (including results obtained from initial experiments), Intro, Materials and Methods, bibliography, etc.

Most instructors chose to require a complete draft of the final text.

11/18-11/21

Final Report

50

Four to five pages following the format utilized in scientific journals, as further described below. Include in the report the headings as listed.

Specifications:

1.The research must be conducted independently and not from previous courses, including your own prior work.

2.Assignments must be double-spaced with 1-inch margins.

3.Font size must be 11-12 points in Times, New Century Schoolbook, Arial, or Palatino.

4.Points will be deducted for late work.

5.Report will be turned in to Turnitin. Any copying will result in a 0 score for that part, plus campus discipline, minimum.

For help with scientific writing check out this web site: http://writing2.richmond.edu/training/project/biology/biology.html http://www.columbia.edu/cu/biology/ug/research/paper.html The help from the Columbia University page includes some particularly helpful examples of correct and incorrect examples.

Approach your overall experiment ideas with these points in mind:

1.Based on your observations of the world around you, pose a question about something biological.

2.Develop a hypothesis about a part of your question that can be tested using the scientific method.

3.Design an experiment to test your hypothesis.

a)What equipment (plants, pots, watering can, etc.) and supplies (fertilizer, etc) will you need?

b)What specific information, (“data”, numbers, height in mm, or temp., in °C,) will you need to gather, and how will you gather it? (Will you stick the thermometer in the soil or hold it on the leaves?)

c)What will your controls be? (Plants NOT treated with your experimental process…etc.)

d)What one factor will be varied in your experimental group?

4.Some supplies may be available from the laboratory. If you can’t supply all the materials that you will need to conduct your study- ask for them. Ask early so there’s time to find alternatives!

5.Make sure your experiment can be conducted in the time frame allowed. (Especially critical for people who want to grow plants!!)

6.Use scientific format for writing your report.

7.With the exception of “Title”, Include the headings as part of your report.

Format for Final Report:

Title (don’t include the word “title”)

Introduction (include the word “Introduction” as well as all the remaining heading words, below)

Include your hypothesis and your reasoning behind it. Discuss the thought processes that led to your hypothesis. Why is this experiment of interest? What would you hope to learn by doing this? Are there widespread misconceptions that you will address? You will review the existing literature in this section.

You must use a minimum of three resources relating to your topic. At least one of these must be a printed source such as you would expect to find in a library and at least one must be an electronic reference from the Internet. In this section, summarize and discuss what you have read, and how this ties in to your topic. Back up any statements you make with correctly-cited references, listed later in your bibliography. You can use Wikipedia to get information to educate yourself but you may not rely on this and you should not quote it or copy from it. Any information you get from internet sources should be confirmed from a second, high-quality source.

Materials and Methods

Write this section in paragraph form and tell what you did for your experiment and what materials you used. Tell what your controls were and state what were your dependent and independent variables.

Results and Discussion

Here you present your results and say what they mean in terms of your hypothesis. Present your data in tables or graphs and discuss in paragraph form what the results indicated and if your hypothesis was supported. If your results turned out differently than you expected, what possible factors/causes might account for that, and what possible alternate hypotheses might be posed to explain these data?

Bibliography

List your references in one of the standard bibliographic formats, such as CBE style manual.

About your topics

While you can find ideas on line we’ve seen most “science fair” projects on the internet and don’t want to see them again. The point is for you to have an idea of your own. Yes. We know that’s hard. We sometimes let people do modified versions of projects they find on-line but using on-line ideas leads to-on line copying all too often. Find something that interests you and sit with a pencil, paper, and your imagination for 20 minutes. You’ll be surprised how much is in your own head. Cool stuff. Honestly.

For your initial idea, don’t bog down: “It’s interesting but I have no idea how to do an experiment on it.” Your instructor, or the course coordinator, can help you with this. Most of the time we have to tell folks to do less, not more, in their methods. We know you’re not going to cure cancer. The goal is for you to experience the process of questioning, constructing an hypothesis, designing an experiment (hopefully simple!) collecting data, analyzing it and then writing about the whole process, and hopefully practice writing well.

Limits! Your experiment must be safe. For research on “animals” use mealworms, crickets, or earthworms available from pet stores and bait shops. In general, you may not experiment on humans in any way. Some exceptions are allowed but you must have specific approval of your instructor and you will never be able to experiment with smoking, drinking, or drugs. You may not use alcoholic beverages in your study (for example, on plants, worms, or snails) unless you are 21 or over. You will not be given bacteria to take home. And…. No experimenting with chemicals on pet vertebrates! No giving your dog a medicine, for example. You should expect that you will have to provide all your own chemicals, and supplies. However, we have a few supplies we can lend- with sufficient advance notice. Make your supply requests to your instructor.If you don’t turn in a proposal and then do your report on an unacceptable topic, you will get a 0! If you copy for your idea and we don’t find this until you turn in a draft or a final report, you will also get a 0 on the proposal, and possibly also on the draft.

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