The Eviscerator wrote: Phenylethylamine wrote:
XJcwolfyX wrote:We wrote that lemonade was the mos acidic, sprite an apple juice were equally as acidic as each other but not as acidic as lemonade, and water was the least acidic.
And how did you graph that? That's the problem: "lemonade - sprite - apple juice - water" is not a quantitative axis.
Argh, this makes me angry. I think out of all my posts on this site, the ones in this thread (and previous years' Experimental threads) are the angriest, because... gah, this event is so often poorly designed and/or poorly run (not to mention the inherent problems with the whole "design, execute and write up an experiment in under an hour" paradigm).
Just reading through here; I don't think it was asking for a qualitatively based experiment, rather it was asking for a categorical one, where the dependent variable is simply the type of drink, and the independent variable is the pH of the drink. Thus, the dependent variable would not vary quantitatively (it would vary by chemical composition), and the independent variable would be quantitatively measured (as pH).
Then again, I may not entirely understand the exact experiment prompt posed on the test from what I've read on here.
EDIT: Also, I understand the hate towards Experimental Design, but it's really a great event, considering how in the real world, the entire scientific community centers around designing and conducting experiments. The time crunch of 1 hour is a bit harsh, but all events have to fit into the time period. And try not to give the event supervisor that hard of a time; it's hard to come up with a good experiment for students to run that's original and requires creative thought.
The rubric for this event specifically asks competitors to establish a trend. A categorical experiment, while often a valid and useful type of experiment in real life, is therefore not appropriate for the purposes of the event.
I object to the time crunch not because it is "harsh", but because it forces students to resort to making up data, doing experiments of which they already know what outcome to expect, and so on. This is bad scientific methodology and should not be encouraged in the name of giving students practice in designing experiments – it's like encouraging young drivers to skid around turns so that they can practice driving from point A to point B in half the time it would usually take. This is not a "great event." It's an event that does exactly the opposite of what it claims to: rather than preparing students for the process of designing and conducting experiments (which, as you say, is what the entire scientific community centers around), it gives them the impression that sloppy experimental procedure is okay and in fact necessary in some situations.
I understand the difficulty of writing and executing good events – not just for Experimental, but for all the events in Science Olympiad – but there have been marked and serious issues with the Experimental event supervisors at Nationals, this year and in past years. Experiments that make no sense are just the beginning of it; there was the peanut allergy issue, the refusal to give competitors any extra paper because "I couldn't bring extra paper on the plane, could I?" (Do they not have paper in Augusta, Georgia?), and the fact that teams were second-tiered
this year for doing totally valid experiments that were within the rules (as long as they used at least two materials, their problem statement matched the rest of their writeup, and so on) just because they were not the experiment the supervisor was looking for.
I'm sorry, but even beyond the issues with this event's execution at Nationals in the past few years, it really should not be a Science Olympiad event. If you look at it from the perspective of an actual scientist, it's a failure of Pentathlon-level proportions. Yes, it's cute that you get to design and conduct your own experiment – but if they're going to try to stick this in a regular SciO-length time slot, they need to cut it down to the point that students can do what they're being asked to do right
. Maybe make it explicit that you should give them plausible data, rather than operating under the delusion that students are actually generating data during the event. Maybe scrap a lot of the pencil-pushing (replace the detailed step-by-step procedure with a summary, or something like that). I don't think it's completely unsalvageable, but in its current incarnation, this event is more bad than good.