Getting ready for the STEM Expo: Critiquing an Experiment

Getting ready for the STEM Expo: Critiquing an Experiment

In today’s lesson, a review of the scientific method was used as a guide for the students’ critique of a (fictional) experiment about dogs having a preference for certain colored foods. Students reviewed a lab notebook of questionable merit to learn about the design of good experiments, and the scientific method in general.  After discussing the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the experimental notes, we compiled everyone’s comments on the board. 

The most important points we learned were that a good scientific experiment needs to have:

  1. A well-defined question
  2. A hypothesis that is testable in a way that can be quantified with numbers
  3. Experiments must be repeated three times – but more is better!
  4. Results should be reported as averages

Additional Information:

Students:  If you’re curious what color(s) dogs can see, click on the link for an example.

Does this make you rethink the conclusion of the experiment?


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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