First step: go to the Research Report assignment and our Natural Sciences module content to understand the purpose of this assignment’s place in the research and writing process.
Scientific inquiry starts with observation — observing a phenomenon, observing how something works or the changes it undergoes — which then develops into a question and systematic study. Careful records in the form of a logbook are kept as part of the systematic study. In the logbook, researchers carefully record what they see and what they measure and speculate about why somethings occurs (or doesn’t occur).
For this project, you’ll need to decide on a particular object of natural science to study and collect observations fora minimum of 5 days – feel free to extend the observation period into more days, too. Develop a process for data collection that includes a visual record (photos, videos) and a written record (verbal descriptions that end with speculation). For each daily entry, begin with description before moving into speculation. For this assignment – which is a logbook, after all – your descriptive writing should include brainstormed research questions that could be answered with further experiments, research, or observations. These questions can be loose and often change over time. But do be sure you keep a record of the research questions you devise along the way.
Follow the form exemplified in the Student Observation Logbook in our textbook. This form includes: title page, headings, organization, and visual elements.
Completing the Task
First, choose an object for study that is natural/material. Some basic ideas include the following: food spoilage, plant growth, water filtering, or weather.
When deciding what your focus of study is, you should be able to identify what specific material object or phenomena (e.g., organic matter, fluid, gas, etc.) you want to investigate, what process is being studied about that material object (decomposition, dehydration, evaporation, etc.), and how it will be measured or evaluated.
object of study: strawberries
measured/evaluated: discoloration (as observed by me), softness (tested once a day at 6pm by me using the same finger); OR glucose levels (can obtain glucose strips to see how glucose level correspond to fruit maturation or decay)
To avoid ethical problems, you cannot use humans or animals for biological or materials testing for this project; however, the observation of animal behavior without harm, physical contact, or unnatural or inhumane settings is permitted.
The research you conduct for this assignment will be used as the topic for the Research Report assignment at the end of the unit.
Next, draft the following sections:
1. Introduction, containing:
a. states the purpose of the study
b. outlines an observational protocol
c. states the methods of data collections
d. establishes a hypothesis
2. Daily observations (over the course of 5 days, conduct your observations, and recording the following for each day):
a. document the date (and time, when relevant)
b. collect and include photographic evidence
c. write a description of your object of study and its status
d. generate questions based on your observations
4. Description, containing:
a. What did you study
b. How did you carry out your study
c. What were the results of the study, which can include a graph or table showing the data collected.
5. Speculation, containing:
a. evaluation of the hypothesis in light of the data
b. speculation about the factors that contributed to the results
c. suggestions for further research on the subject matter
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