The guiding question for this activity is: How would you go about collecting evidence to support or refute your hypothesis?
Background for Teachers
Field sampling goes more smoothly with a plan; hypotheses can only be supported with relevant data. Students need to develop a research plan to have that smooth field season and collect those relevant data.
The culvert research question deals with location and stream conditions, therefore experimental design for these researchers will involve picking stream conditions that are appropriate to sample for. Because of the great possibilities in comparing samples from one site with samples from another site, from another school it will be very important that your students characterize their field site well and that they record their field data very well.
Share with your students that they will submit a sample of organisms collected from above and a sample of organisms collected from below the culvert to the lab for organism identification. They also have access to the data from the other classes doing the project.
Review the Table of Field Variables with the students.
If you are in doubt about whether or not a sampling plan is feasible, contact Acadia Learning staff or your partnering scientist.
- That the hypothesis must be supported by relevant data
- Collecting relevant data requires a plan
- Students will produce a sampling plan or a more formal Research Proposal
Where does this lesson happen in the Project?
This is the first activity in Unit 4: Field Sampling to Support your Claim.
Share with your students that they will submit a sample of organisms collected from above and a sample of organisms collected from below the culvert to the lab for organism identification. They will get information about the organisms to the lowest taxonomic level possible (it might not be species in all cases) and functional feeding group.
Unpredictable issues often confounded field sampling (drought, rain, a storm over the weekend, etc.). Use best judgment and make notes during the sampling event to help explain if odd results are produced because of uncontrollable circumstances.
Students will have access to the data from the other classes doing the project.
Review the Table of Field Variables with the students. Remind your students of any classroom or school limitations (e.g., if you have 80 minutes for sampling then you may not have time to collect organisms from far above and far below the culvert).
Students will need to assemble:
- From Unit 3: Their hypotheses, questions, “data shopping list” or what they need for data
Students will be well served by having the Table of Field Variables so that they know what options there are for data collection resources.
If the students have been to the field site then assemble any information already collected.
If they have not been to the site then use Google Earth to look at satellite photos of the site.
Handouts (see also Lesson Resources)
- Students must have their hypotheses and have all of their material from previous Units
1-2 classes (longer if the students write a formal research proposal)
Doing the Activity
Develop the research plan by answering the questions who, what, where, when, why and how. The “why” is the hypothesis. The guiding question for this activity is: How would you go about collecting evidence to support or refute your hypothesis?
- Each group should reiterate its hypothesis
- Answer the question in a general sense (if a hypothesis is “There will be bigger organisms below the culvert than above because there will be bigger cobbles below”, then they might answer: “Collect macroinvertebrate samples and cobble data from above and below the culvert”)
Craft that general approach into a workable study plan – iron out all the details Some questions to start with are:
- How will you collect the macroinvertebrates?
- Should you pay attention to the weather?
- What else would you need to know about the field site- stream size? topography, aspect, primary tree type, temperature?
- What other kinds of information do you need to collect/monitor: flow rate? stream depth?
- Who will collect the samples? When?
- How will they be collected?
- Where will they be stored?
- Do you want to look at them in the classroom before sending them to the lab?
There are more questions. Many more will arise during the process and will need to be addressed. Students should take notes and keep track of how they will address all of the issues.
Each group should present its research plan to the class, and encourage feedback and questions from the other groups. If the project is going to be a class project, follow with a discussion of pros and cons of each group’s presentation, and formulate a coordinated plan for sampling, using a collaborative approach where the best of each group’s methods are combined.
The information the students have put together to this point can be called a research proposal. Students can now be asked to put together a more formal proposal. A research proposal is a document that describes the plan for the project. It makes the case for the proposed study and approach. (Scientists frequently write research proposals and other groups of scientists or people from science agencies judge those proposals to decide which ones deserve funding.)
Once the proposals are completed, students will then have the opportunity to review their peers' proposals with the goal of making constructive, collaborative improvements. Remember, there’s no right or wrong approach to a research project, but the choices students make will determine how they can interpret their results. Alternatively, the teacher or the cooperating scientist can review and make comments on everyone’s proposal.
The following are the general sections that should be included in a research proposal and some questions to answer in each section. Here you’ll think about, collect, and enter information about your project.
Research project title
|Give your project a name|
What role does nitrogen play in living things? How does it cycle? Why should we care about nitrogen? How does season affect nitrogen cycling? (3‐4 sentences)
|“If _______, then we expect that_____, because_____” (1‐2 sentences)|
|This section summarizes all the decisions made above – who, what, when, where how?|
Results and discussion
What do you think you might find? Maybe you have some ideas because you already have some data. What will your data mean? (2‐3 sentences)
|If you cite (or mention in your proposal) any web sites or articles where you found information (such as your statements about sources of nitrogen pollution, or if you’re using someone else’s methods), you need to list them here.|
This document can also serve as a precursor of the final research paper.
Listen as students present. Does their plan make sense? Ask how much time in the field their sampling will take? Which protocols from the Table are they using? Have they read those protocols? Ask them about data management.
Collect the formal research proposals. Review as you would an early draft of a report.
Lesson Extensions and Supplements
application/pdf iconTable of Field Variables