We are almost ready to begin the experiment! However, before we begin there is one more very important decision that must be made - how to collect data. This is where working with your Adult Mentor is truly important. There are several methods of collecting data and in cooperation with your mentor you need to decide the best way to proceed. Don't take this step for granted and here is why...
The data you collect you must also study and interpret. Think about that for a moment - you are presenting an experiment utilizing data that you collected; don't you think it would be a good idea if you understood what the data was revealing? You must have the ability to interpret the data into a logical presentation and explain why you choose a specific method of collecting data. Additionally, what if you discovered after months of experiments - you collected the wrong type of data? Unfortunately, you just lost precious time and perhaps resources for your experiment.
Before we explore the field of data capture and analysis; let's discuss the main types of data you will collect.
Let's take an example for a moment utilizing a Problem Statement and Hypothesis from a previous posting:
Does changing the amount of light affect the growth rate of plants?
Possible Hypothesis Statement:
If I decrease the amount of light to plants, then their growth rate will be slower.
What data would you choose to collect for this experiment? Would you take measurements? If so, what would you measure? How would you like to collect and record this data? These are some of the questions that you may want to consider prior to conducting your experiment and, thankfully, there are numerous websites that can guide you in this area of your project. Here are just a few that can assist you on your data collection journey:
Homework and Materials:
For your homework we would like for you to review the websites above and then answer the following questions:
What data would you choose to collect for the plant experiment mentioned above?
What would you measure?
How would you collect and record the data?