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EXPERIMENT 1:

THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD


INTRODUCTION
To appreciate biology or any body of scientific knowledge, we need to understand how the scientific
method is used to gather that knowledge. We use the scientific method to test the predictions of
possible answers to questions about nature in ways that we can duplicate or verify. Answers
supported by test results are added to the body of scientific knowledge and contribute to the concepts
presented in textbook and other science books.

OBJECTIVES
1. To explain the nature of scientific knowledge.
2. To describe the basic steps of the scientific method.

MATERIALS
 Clinical thermometer
 Stopwatch

PROCEDURE
1. Observation
The scientific method starts with a careful observation. Table 1.1 lists some observations on
the human body.
2. Question
In the second step of the scientific method, we ask questions on these observations. The
quality of these questions will depend on how carefully the observations were made and
analysed.
3. Hypothesis
Next we will construct a hypothesis derived from inductive reasoning a possible answer to
the question. Induction is a logical process by which all known observations are combined
and considered before producing a possible answer.
4. Prediction
In this step we formulated a prediction. We assume the hypothesis is correct and predict the
result of a test that reveals some aspect of it.
5. Experiment and Pertinent Observations
We performed an experiment to make pertinent observations to test the prediction.

(a) In an experiment of classical design, the individuals or items under study are divided into
two groups: an experimental group that is treated with (or possesses) the independent
kinds of variable and the control group that is not (or does not). In any tests, there are
three kinds of variables. The independent variable is the treatment or condition under
study. The dependent variable is the event or condition that is measured or observed
when the results are gathered. The controlled variables are all other factors, which the
investigator attempts to keep the same for all groups under study.
(b) To test the prediction in Observation 1, we will need a stopwatch to measure the time
taken in holding the breath at rest and after exercise. Experiment and pertinent
observation are described.
(c) To test the prediction in Observation 2, we will need a clinical thermometer to measure
the temperature of different body parts. Experiment and pertinent observation are
described.
(d) The variables involved in testing predictions from Observations 1 and 2 are then
determined and described.
(e) Results for both observations then presented in a table.

6. Conclusion
The last step in one cycle of scientific method. The result of the experiment or pertinent
observation are used to evaluate hypothesis.

If the prediction does not occur, it is rejected and the hypothesis or some part of it is
falsified. If the prediction does occur, we may conditionally accept the prediction and the
hypothesis is supported. However, we can never completely accept or reject any hypothesis;
all we can do is to state the probability that one is correct or incorrect. To quantify this
probability, scientists use a branch of mathematics called Statistical Analysis.

Even if the prediction is rejected, this does not necessarily mean that the treatment caused
the result. Instead, a coincidence or the effect of some unforeseen and thus uncontrolled
variable could be the cause. For this reason, the results must be repeatable by the original
investigator and others.

Even if the results are the same again, this does not mean that the treatment caused the
result. Cause and effect, especially in biology is rarely proven in experiments. We can
however say that the treatment and result are correlated. A correlation is a relationship
between the independent and the dependent variables.

Table 1.1 : Some Observations on the Human Body

Observation Question Hypothesis Prediction

1. People can hold their What factor forces a The build-up of carbon If the hypothesis is
breath for only a short person to take a breath? dioxide derived from the correct, then the people
period of time. body stimulates us to a will hold their breath for a
take breath. shorter time just after
exercise compared to
when they are at rest.
2. Normal body Do all body parts have the The skin temperature or If the hypothesis is
temperature is 37 degree same temperature? some parts of the body is correct then a clinical
Celsius. not 37 degree Celsius thermometer will record
different temperatures on
the forehead, back of
neck and forearm.
DATA SHEET FOR EXPERIMENT 1:

THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD


RESULT AND DATA:

PARAMETER / OBSERVATION 1 OBSERVATION 2


VARIABLES

 Condition of subject  Different area of body parts


1. Relax (Normal condition) 1. Forehead
2. Post-exercise (10 laps) 2. Back of neck
Independent 3. Forearm
variables

 Duration of subject holding  Temperature of different


breath body area
1. Relax (Normal Condition) 1. Forehead
1 min 4.4 secs 33 degree Celsius
Dependent
2. Post-exercise (10 laps) 2. Back of neck
variables 32.5 degree Celsius
0 min 7.8 secs

3. Forearm
32.5 degree Celsius

 Same subject (person)  Same subject (person)


 Same surrounding  Same surrounding
Controlled temperature temperature
 Same altitude
variables
DISCUSSION (POST-LAB QUESTIONS)

1. Describe how you carried out the experiments for Observation 1 and 2.

For observation 1,
We will need stopwatch to measure the time taken in holding breathe at rest and after
exercise. In the first part of the experiment, the duration for the subject’s ability to hold his
breath under normal condition is taken.
In the second part of experiment, the subject is first asked to run for 10 laps inside the lap.
Then the duration for subject’s ability to hold his breath post-exercise is taken.
The data for both part of experiments are recorded and analysed.

For observation 2,
We will need a clinical thermometer to measure the temperature of different body parts.
We will be using the same subject throughout the experiment. For each body parts chosen
(forehead, back of neck and forearm), the thermometer will be placed for at least 30
seconds. The temperature for each body parts will be recorded separately, compared with
normal body temperature of 37 degree Celsius and then analysed.

2. Explain the following terms,


(a) Independent variables
The treatment or condition that is under study.
(b) Dependent variables
The event or condition that is measured or observed when the results are gathered.
(c) Controlled variables
All other factors, which the investigator attempts to keep the same for all groups under
study.

3. Are hypotheses for Experiments 1 and 2 accepted? If not state the reasons.

For Experiment 1,
The hypothesis is accepted. The build-up of carbon dioxide derived from the body metabolic
activity stimulates us to breath. The whole experiment results, proved that people will hold
their breath for a shorter time just after exercise compared to when they are at rest.

For Experiment 2
The hypothesis is accepted. The skin temperature or some parts of the body is not 37 degree
Celsius. Based on the experiment, the clinical thermometer recorded different temperatures
on the forehead, back of neck and forearm.