# A student s guide to. Keeping the. in Your. Project

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1 A student s guide to Keeping the in Your Project

2 Written and developed by: Ellen Smoak, Ph.D., Clothing and Textiles Specialist, North Carolina A&T State University Cooperative Extension Program Robert Williamson, Ph.D., Natural Resources Specialist, North Carolina A&T State University Cooperative Extension Program Design and Illustration by: Jacalyn Romano, J R Designs North Carolina Cooperative Extension Program NORTH CAROLINA A&T STATE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF AGRICULTURE

6 Stephanie s control Stephanie s purpose is to find out if heavy fabrics hold heat longer than lightweight fabrics, and the plan for her experiment is to wrap five types of fabric around five cups of water, which have been heated to the same temperature in a microwave. She plans to use a thermometer to check the water temperature to see which cup of water is slowest to cool. For her control, she needs to check how long it will take for a cup of heated water to cool down when it is not wrapped with any fabric at all. Her independent variable Stephanie decided to use fabric type as her independent variable. Fabric type is an independent variable because Stephanie will control and change it during the experiment. She will test nylon, wool and three other fabrics. As she conducts her tests on the five fabrics, the water temperature she starts with, the amount of water and all other variables will be the same: the only change will be the type of fabric she is testing. Her dependent variable Stephanie decided to use water temperature as her dependent variable. Water temperature will be the same at the start of each test, when hot water is put in a cup with a fabric wrapped around it. As the water temperature decreases, the change will be in response to the ability of the fabric to retain heat. Water temperature is a good dependent variable because it is measurable (with a thermometer) and it changes only in response to the independent variable (fabric type). scientist does two or more things to the experimental group that are not done to the control group. This makes for a more complicated experiment: you will have to compare the results in the experimental group to results in the control group when you introduce your first independent variable, then repeat the experiment and compare experimental group to control group for each independent variable. Try to have only a single independent variable in your experiment. Scientists must also realize their experiments have variables which may or may not influence the results of their experiments. In addition to coming from different raw materials, the fabrics Stephanie tests contain dyes, and different processes were used to manufacture them. As she came up with her hypothesis, Stephanie didn t think these other variables would affect the results of the experiment. A list of independent variables which may or may not influence the results of your experiment is nonetheless important. You may need to analyze these other variables if your results don t match your hypothesis. Experiments also have a dependent variable. In your search for a dependent variable, you find something which depends on what you re going to do to the experimental group something which can be measured. If your experiment s hypothesis is plants grow faster with magnets over them, then what results are going to be dependent, and how can you measure them? (If you choose height as your dependent variable, you will be able to measure the plants with a ruler as they grow. If you choose color, you have selected a dependent variable which won t be easy to measure.) 4 activity 6 on activity 7 on activity 8 on Answer question 9 on

8 activity 11 on page 8 Describe your results on page 8 activity 12 Once you collect all of your data and analyze it, you are ready to state your results. Charts, graphs, and tables are a good way to show your data. Once you have the results of your experiment, you can draw some conclusions based on what you have learned. Remember that even if the results do not support the hypothesis, the experiment is not wrong! It simply means Answer question 13 that there are probably variables, other than the on page 8 treatments, which may affect the outcome. Stephanie s results After conducting her experiment, Stephanie discovered that the cup wrapped in wool retained heat longer than any of the other cups. This was followed in order by cups wrapped in: polyester and nylon blend, denim, polyester, and nylon. Her conclusion Stephanie concluded that the wool fabric retained heat longer than the other fabrics tested. Her recommendation Stephanie told her mother, Mom, you were right! The wool fabric holds heat better than nylon. On the next cold day, Stephanie recommended a wool jacket to her sister, Laura, because it would keep her warmer than jackets made of other fabrics. CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE MASTERED THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD 6

9 1. What topic are you going to explore for your science fair project? 2. How are you going to research your science fair topic? 3. Write a short statement explaining the problem you have come across, which you believe some experiment will solve. 4. Write a short purpose statement for your project. 5. What will be the hypothesis for your experiment? 6. Describe the control group for your experiment. Explain how your experimental group and the control group will be different. 7. Describe your independent variable. 8. List the independent variables which may or may not influence the results of your experiment. 9. What is the dependent variable for your experiment and how will you measure changes in it? 7

10 10. Describe how you will conduct your experiment. 11. Describe the results of your experiment. 12. Describe how you plan to show your results. 13. Review the results of your experiment. What is your conclusion? 8

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