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Lab 1

Science as a way of gathering knowledge A. Overview In this lab, you will learn the basic process of doing scientific research. Briefly, you will develop a research hypothesis, design an experiment to test it, conduct the experiment, record the data, and make conclusions based on the data. B. Directions 1. Get into groups of 4 and brainstorm for 10-15 minutes. a) Discuss neuromuscular response time (reaction time) and come up with some possible factors that could affect how quickly a person could catch a falling ruler (as an index of reaction time). For example, would previous athletic training give a person better motor skills (and thus reaction times) than someone with no training? See number (1) on page 3 for other examples. Try to come up with some unique questions that are not listed in your manual. NOTE: Your questions should be focused, testable, and not have an obvious answer. Bad question for this experiment: Will a 105-year-old, blind woman have slower reaction times than a 25-year-old NBA star? Good question: Will those with musical training have better reaction times than those without any musical background? b) Decide on 3 questions that you feel are the most interesting. 2. Discuss each group's questions together as a class and decide on 5 questions that are capable of being tested. Be thinking about your hypothesis for each of these questions. - Example: Null hypothesis: Men and women will have the same reaction times (no difference) Alternative hypothesis: Women will have faster reaction times 3. As groups, test your hypotheses for each of the questions as described in the "Description of the Problem" in page 3. a) One person will sit at a table with his/her forearm on top and the hand extended over the edge. The palm should be to the side, with the thumb and forefinger partially extended. b) A second person should hold the meter stick just above the other person's fingers and then drop it without letting the first person know. c) The third person in the group should record the data. How far did the stick fall (in mm) before the first person caught it? Record data in a similar way as shown in Table 1.1. d) Repeat several times. You decide what you think is sufficient. e) Rotate jobs in the group so that everyone gets a chance to catch the stick. 4. Each group should record their data in a table that I will provide. I will enter this data into a table in Microsoft Excel and I post the table on my website. Each student should download the table containing their section's data and use that data to answer the questions for lab 1 (found in a file on my website called Lab 1 worksheet)