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Planning an experiment requires you to formulate a hypothesis, recognize variables and determine how to test the hypothesis.


Hypotheses must be logical and testable. e.g. The greater the hydrogen carbonate concentration, the faster the rate of photosynthesis. Aim must be concise and clearly stated, and relate to the hypothesis. Complete list of all materials and apparatus to be used must be stated. Include volumes and concentrations. Methods/Procedures must be in instructional/point form logical sequence. Use present tense and be impersonal! (Should be clear enough for the reader to repeat the exact experiment). Suitable sample size necessary. A control is essential and should be included in proposed method. This control is often the same in every respect except the manipulated variable is not changed but is kept constant. This allows you to confirm that no unknown variable is responsible for any changes observed in the responding (dependent) variable. It makes for a fair test. You must identify your variables. e.g. independent variable (factor deliberately manipulated) e.g. concentration of hydrogen carbonate solution. Show how you will control this and consider the range of values. Dependent variable (factor that is measured) e.g. time taken for leaf discs to rise. Also list all variables that could affect your investigation and identify the factors to be held constant so as to produce reliable results e.g. maintain number of leaf discs per beaker, light intensity, type of leaf, volume of solution placed in beakers, water temperature. Decide on frequency of measurements. Use replicates. Repetition of experiment under identical conditions is necessary for validity.

Remember that an experiment is designed to test the validity of the hypothesis and involves the collection of data. CHECKLIST: Do you have a title? Do you have a problem statement? (e.g. Design and describe a procedure) Have you stated an aim that relates to the hypothesis? Have you listed all the apparatus/materials needed? And stated all the quantities and concentrations that you will use? For your procedure, have you presented the steps in a logical sequence, writing numbered stages in the present tense? Is it workable? Have you been impersonal and included all details? Have you identified all the variables that could affect your investigation? How will you attempt to control other variables so as to obtain reliable results? Have you selected an appropriate range of values for the independent (manipulated) variable? How will you control it? How many measurements of the dependent (responding) variable will you make? And over what time period? How many replicates will you use? What controls will you use? Have you shown how your data will be displayed? Is your table properly designed with appropriate headings and units? Have you proposed any graphs for analysis? (your table must have a title and be neatly ruled up) Have you given a statement of your expected results? (one sentence stating what you would predict) In your data analysis, have you included how your results tie in with your hypothesis? (i.e. state the alternate possibilities whether they support or do not support the hypothesis and the acceptance/rejection of the hypothesis: If.then) Have you listed expected precautions? Limitations? (conditions that were hard to control that could affect results or any design problems that are possible sources of error) TYPICALLY, MARK SCHEMES INCLUDE: Hypothesis testable, stating one variable Aim related to hypothesis Method reasonable, logical sequence; use of appropriate apparatus; precautions (ensure replicates or suitable size); variables to be held constant; control group identified; how to collect and record data (appropriate table) Discussion of predicted results give background Data Analysis statement of acceptance or rejection of hypothesis Limitations/Sources of Error any one well explained/2 stated Is your hypothesis clear, straightforward and testable? Does it state what you expect to happen? Is there ONE variable?

So, in terms of layout of P & D, you need to include:

Title Problem Statement: Design and describe a procedure Hypothesis Aim: To investigate Apparatus/Materials (complete list) Procedure Expected Results (one sentence stating what you predict to happen. This must be correctly linked to the hypothesis.) Table/s for recording (any analyzing) results (appropriate with headings and units, proper number of columns and rows, indication of whether or not averages will be taken, any modification of results etc) Data Analysis (how will your results tie in with the hypothesisstate briefly the alternate possibilities and the acceptance/ rejection of hypothesis) Expected Precautions (list) Expected Limitations/Sources of Error (list shortcomings of design)