Experimental Design B/C

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Re: Experimental Design B/C

Post by Phenylethylamine » September 30th, 2009, 3:12 pm

What I described is basically how we break it down, although it can be kind of fluid depending on who finishes what first (also, clean-up is usually done by the person doing procedure etc., since they're often done first; otherwise, it would be the experimenter. The conclusion person is never the first one done. If they are, they can always write more).

Our system is sort of based on the 'skills' for the various sections:
  • Problem-hypothesis-materials-procedure take a very systematic, structured approach, and are substantially similar from one competition to another. However, the basic structure needs to be adapted quickly to the specific situation of each event. The main skills involved are meticulousness and a good memory.
  • Analysis-errors-conclusion-recommendation are basically writing. That's what ties them together in our system; they're the sections that basically have to be free response, straight-up mini-essays. That's definitely a skill unto itself: writing a lot, fast, coherently, and making the end product sufficiently eloquent and complex to impress the judges xD. [So even though the analysis is based in the statistics, the way it has to be presented groups it with the conclusion etc. The person does need some understanding of the statistics, but I think there are more people who understand the implications of mean/median/mode/range than who can write with the necessary clarity, complexity, and speed, so that's usually not an issue.]
  • Collection of data (and the attendant stats and graphs thereof) needs a steady hand and at least a modicum of organization, and obviously the ability to calculate stats and graph data. In a perfect world, this would be the most straightforward section, but since data in this event doesn't always show what you want it to... this person gets the job of making up what the data "should" be if necessary (yes, bad scientific practice, I know; however, given the time-constrained nature of the event, sometimes things don't go quite the way they would in a real lab setting- e.g., sometimes the conclusion is written before the data collection is actually finished, so if the remaining data doesn't fit the conclusion, it can be easier to change a few numbers than change an entire conclusion). That takes a real ability to both understand the data and think on your feet.
The observations- qualitative and quantitative- are usually left to the experimenter or the procedure etc. person, depending on who finishes first, who's cleaning up, and so on. Nominally they're part of the 'experiment' section in our system, but about half the time all or part of them ends up done by the procedure person.
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Re: Experimental Design B/C

Post by sk8lynne » October 1st, 2009, 6:19 pm

i wish experimental was an event at regionals for division c. Now i can't compete in it even though its my favorite event and i did really well in it last year. It's not that hard to set up so i don't understand why they chose not to include it in the regional events.
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Re: Experimental Design B/C

Post by andrewwski » October 1st, 2009, 6:31 pm

That's something you'd have to discuss with your regional coordinator.

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Re: Experimental Design B/C

Post by duckiegirl2 » October 2nd, 2009, 3:55 pm

I was wondering if anyone knew of a good way to prepare for experimental design. Would doing a made up science experiment ( following all the rules in the experimental design rules page) be a good way? :)
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Re: Experimental Design B/C

Post by AlphaTauri » October 2nd, 2009, 7:10 pm

Well, the way our team practiced last year was someone tossed semi-random objects into a box and told the ED people to make an experiment out of it. Apparently, this tactic worked- we did pretty well at Regionals and States. (It's hilarious watching them practice, though- during one of their experiments with a pendulum, we (the rest of the team) weren't allowed within two feet of the thing.)
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Re: Experimental Design B/C

Post by Phenylethylamine » October 3rd, 2009, 7:01 am

AlphaTauri wrote:Well, the way our team practiced last year was someone tossed semi-random objects into a box and told the ED people to make an experiment out of it. Apparently, this tactic worked- we did pretty well at Regionals and States. (It's hilarious watching them practice, though- during one of their experiments with a pendulum, we (the rest of the team) weren't allowed within two feet of the thing.)
That's basically what we do, too, although since the rules state that in competition, a topic or question must be given, we usually have whoever's setting it up for us come up with some topic or question for the practice experiment. However, the rules say nothing about how specific or broad the question/topic has to be, so we practice with some very specific ones (e.g., an entire scenario involving a certain bridge over a certain river is given, and then you're asked to test how any aspect of your choosing of this bridge could be optimized using the materials given) and some very vague ones (e.g., "The topic is... um... Physics! Go!").

At least in NY, at Regionals (at least, when it's run at Regionals :-( ), the actual topics/questions tend to the more specific, States is usually somewhere in the middle, and Nationals is often pretty broad (although the aforementioned bridge one I believe came from an old National event; not sure though). Last year, the national topic I think for both B and C was static electricity, although it was stated differently, I think (as far as I know, C Division was told to "create and test something related to an unmoving electric charge", while B was told to "test something related to static electricity); correct me if I'm wrong here.
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Re: Experimental Design B/C

Post by duckiegirl2 » October 3rd, 2009, 7:16 am

Thanks, I'll try it. :D
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Re: Experimental Design B/C

Post by 2win » October 13th, 2009, 7:45 pm

has anyone used their container in the event? i know it says you can, but i was just wondering...
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Re: Experimental Design B/C

Post by binary010101 » October 14th, 2009, 1:24 pm

Not yet, I haven't.
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Re: Experimental Design B/C

Post by Phenylethylamine » October 14th, 2009, 2:26 pm

We've used it to prop up a ramp once or twice. Other than that, no.

Oh, and we've also done a few events where despite that rule, they've said on the instructions sheets that you may not use the container.
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