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1.5: Try the Scientific Method! Two Simple Exercises To Illustrate

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    Example 1: Attendance vs. Grade (This example is a very valuable start to a college course!)

    Use the scientific method to evaluate the data on this table comparing two variable factors: student attendance (number of classes missed in an introductory science class) compared with final grades of students in three classes. Discuss observations, facts, assumptions, hypotheses, and theories. How can these hypotheses be tested? What other factors not listed might explain observable facts?

    What would it take to make these hypotheses into a proven theory?

    Data: Grades vs. Attendance
    Figure 1.13. Data: Attendance vs. Grade

    Example 2: Beach Sand vs. River Sand

    A common assignment used in introductory geology courses is to examine and describe characteristics (similarities and differences) in the nature of river sand and beach sand.

    Use the scientific method to make observations using these four microscope images of sand samples (2 from river deposits, 2 from beach deposits). Use observations to make hypotheses about why the sample have identifiable characteristics unique to their origin.

    Can you make some hypotheses about some of the changes that occur as sand gradually migrates from source areas in upland regions to where sand accumulates on beaches along coastlines?

    Can you come up with suggestions for experiments to test these hypotheses that would support a theory of the character and origin of sand in different environmental settings?

    Special note: this topic is covered in more detail in later chapters.

    stream sand beach sand
    Figure 1.14. River sand (CA) Figure 1.15. Beach sand (TX)
    river sand beach sand
    Figure 1.16. River sand (OH) Figure 1.17. Beach sand (CA)

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