This week, in preparation for your research projects and your visit from Mark (on Monday!), I would like you to review some of the topics we covered on Wednesday concerning the scientific method. To start, watch this video and explore the resources on this site. On the Science buddies website, be sure to scroll all the way down and read through the first four rows of the table they provide, clicking on the links in the right-hand column to learn more about each topic. The information on this page is very good and useful, so please review it carefully. Don't worry about the rows after # four, we'll cover that information later on. After you watch the video, see my caveat comment below. I want you to think carefully about the differences between hypotheses and predictions.
Once you have completed reviewing the materials, please respond in the Comments section with the following:
What is one of your research questions that you would like to ask for your research project?
What are your hypotheses to potentially answer your research question?
What are your predictions from each of your hypotheses?
While here I ask you for one research question, you might have multiple hypotheses to answer the question, and each hypothesis could have multiple alternative predictions (remember the hypothetico-deductive method).
I'll give you one quick and simple example:
Research question: Is there a difference in the number of bat species found in large, continuous forest and small forest fragments?
Null Hypothesis: There is no difference in the number of bat species in continuous and fragmented forest.
Alternative Hypothesis: There is a difference in the number of bat species in continuous and fragmented forest.
Prediction 1: There are more species in continuous forest than in fragmented forest.
(This is what I really think, based on the concept of island biogeography - bigger areas have more species than smaller areas).
Prediction 2: There are more species in fragmented forest than in continuous forest.
(This is possible too, based on the intermediate disturbance hypothesis. Because fragmented forests may have greater variety in habitat types than continuous forest and species may be dispersing to or from fragments, there may be higher species richness in fragments if continuous forest is homogeneous with respect to habitat types and stable over time).
**After viewing the video, see the following caveat***
One note I would like to make is that I slightly disagree with the way the YouTube video frames their 'hypothesis'. The video states that the hypothesis is: "saltwater has lower freezing point than freshwater". That is a prediction, with a direction. The hypothesis should be something like: "There is a difference in the freezing point of saltwater and freshwater", with the predicted difference being that "saltwater has lower freezing point than freshwater". The null hypothesis would be that there is no difference in the freezing point of saltwater and freshwater, and you try to falsify the null by testing if there is a difference in freezing point between salt and freshwater. This is a subtle difference, but it means a lot when it comes time to do statistics.