CHA 5&6: Can you measure it?

After two weeks of gathering data on chia seed growth and germination rate, we had a go at analyzing the raw data. As with any science experiment, we discovered some ways we could have improved the experimental design. FIrst, we should have labeled all of the chia seeds so it would be easier to track the growth of a single seed. Second, the students observed the growth rate, but instead of measuring the length of the sprouts, they gave the seeds a “Growth Score” on a scale of 0-3. This was a great learning opportunity, because it led to a discussion about the difference between “qualitative” and “quantitative” data. We all agreed that, if it is possible, making quantitative measurements like “length in centimeters” is preferable to converting a qualitative opinion that to a numerical scale. Finally, we talked about the importance of averaging data; this makes it much easier to see how all of the seeds behave and makes it possible to create understandable graphs.

The students will be taking the experiment to the next step with Mr. Crook by testing the effect of vegetable and flower fertilizer on seeds that are headed for the community garden!

Author

Dr. Maureen Griffin

Maureen earned a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. While at Penn, she developed a novel micro-mechanical technique called micropipette peeling to investigate the role of muscle cell adhesion in normal and diseased skeletal muscle cells. After graduating, Maureen worked full time as a post-doctoral researcher and then a staff scientist a SelectX Pharmaceuticals. She joined the teaching staff in 2008 and was excited to be made an executive staff member in 2009. Maureen also continued to consult part time for SelectX until her daughter's birth in 2009; now she is focused on Science from Scientists and, of course, her children. Maureen uses her spare time to read, blog, cook, and renovate her house.

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