The purpose of this assignment is to provide you with an opportunity to engage in the 3Pıs of science: Problem Posing, Problem Solving, and Persuasion. Experience with these processes of science will enable you, as a teacher, to better facilitate meaningful

student investigation.

The first step is for you and a partner to identify a research question (problem posing) you would like to pursue. As you make observations of the Brassica plants we grow in class together, you will have ample opportunities to notice features about the plantıs growth and development (or the circumstances under which it is grown) that might make for a good study. You then need to consider how you will design an investigation that addresses your question (problem solving). In planning your investigation you should recognize that there are two general types of scientific research: experimental and observational. In an experimental study, scientists rigorously control the circumstances of the study to isolate the effect(s) of one or more of the variables. For example, you might explore the relationship between amount of fertilizer and the time that it takes the rapid-cycling Brassica rapa to flower. In an observational study, in contrast, scientists do not directly manipulate nature. For example, you may observe the rate and location of stem elongation to better understand where and how growth occurs in Brassica rapa. Both types of studies will involve data-gathering (making observations) that may be qualitative or quantitative. Experimental studies often provide a better basis for establishing causal relationships; observational studies often provide a better basis for claims about organisms in nature, as experiments are often conducted in

contexts divorced from nature.

Once youıve decided on both your research question and a suitable design you should fill out the Plant Investigations Assignment Proposal Form on the next page. The writing of your proposal will involve some homework on your part, both to document why the question youıve chosen to pursue is biologically significant and to come up with a suitable design for your investigation. Depending upon the nature of your question, this may involve your collecting and assembling materials. Please note that the available resources the lab has for this project, both space and materials, are limited. It is your responsibility to make sure you have the resources needed to pursue your project. Also, pay attention to whether you will have access to the plants during the times stated in your proposal, when you plan to observe or take measurements of them. Students are welcome to pursue the investigations at home, provided they return all borrowed materials at the end of their studies. Like your previous student conceptions project,

you will probably need to submit your proposal multiple times before it is approved.

Once your investigation proposal is approved, you and your partner may start your project, using the seeds you collect from the plants you grew as part of our group experiment. Typically they are available to be harvested shortly after the first exam. Students who wait longer than two or three weeks after this date do so at their own peril, as the plants have a set 24-day growth cycle and you will need time to analyze and write up your report. Collect observations as specified by the design of your experiment, keeping track of any anomalies–unexpected changes or mistakes you or your partner make (e.g., forgetting to water the plants). You will then need to summarize and analyze your data (problem solving) to determine what reasonable conclusions can be drawn

from your investigation about the question you chose to pursue.

You and your partner will then create a poster that summarizes your investigation. You will use it in connection with a brief 5-minute presentation during which you and your partner will attempt to persuade others (instructors and classmates) concerning your conclusions (problem persuading). You and your partner will also act as anonymous judges of two posters by your classmates. Your overall grade for this assignment will include consideration of both your work on the poster and your work as an evaluator.


On the day of your presentation you will need to turn in the following items:

1. Plants

The plants you grew during your investigation, or their remains. After showing

these to your instructor, clean and return all recyclable items, including the planting

units, stakes, planting resevoirs, plexiglass resevoir covers, and water mats. Please also

return any additional items you borrowed.

2. Poster

The poster itself should minimally include a title with the names of the investigators (use at least a 24 pt. font). It should also include a paragraph long statement (use an 18 pt. font) under each of the following headings:


a) Purpose: an introductory paragraph that gives background information regarding how and why the research question became a problem for you and your partner. It should specifically indicate why the question you have chosen is biologically significant.


b) Hypothesis: What is the hypothesis you chose to pursue? Identify the dependent and independent variables.


c) Experimental Design: Provide a brief description of how you grew the plants, both experimental and control. Indicate what materials you used and how you collected and analyzed data.


d) Results. Provide photographs or graphs that summarize the results of your investigation. A separate log of your research (e.g. the sheet that you used to collect data) should be made available to judges.


e) Sources of Error. Briefly discuss any problems you ran into in the conduct of your investigation, e.g. Did you depart from your suggested experimental design? Did something unexpected happen?


f) Conclusions. What conclusions can you draw on the basis of your investigation? What would you do differently if you had to do it again? What questions remain for further research?


g) Nature of Science. What has the conduct of this investigation revealed to you about the process of science?


h) Connections to Teaching. Discuss whether you would use this investigation in connection with your teaching of a K-8 science class. Clarify what grade level you have in mind, and what modifications if any you would introduce. Provide evidence that the learning objective you have in mind is grade level appropriate.


i) References to outside research. Clearly indicate your debt to any outside sources you consult in the course of your investigation. This includes, but should not be limited to, our course pack, which provides directions for how to plant Brassica rapa. Be sure to clarify to your reader, if it is not otherwise obvious, how each source was used. Donıt just provide a list and leave it to the reader to guess how the cited material was used.


j) A separate log book should include the raw data (measurements of individual plants), and any other observations you made in the course of your investigation. It should also include your accepted plant investigation proposal sheet.



Come to class prepared to share the results of your investigation to our entire group. Briefly describe what your question was, how you pursued it, whether you were able to come to a conclusion, and what you would do as a teacher if you were to use this investigation to teach a K-8 class (specify the grade level you have in mind). All of the information you share should specifically be included on your poster.




After all groups have presented, you and your partner will be assigned two posters to judge. Your instructor will provide you with an evaluation rubric, which will include both a numerical score (1-3) for the elements of the poster mentioned above, and a place to provide written comments regarding your impression of the overall project and how it has been displayed. You will receive a separate score (up to 5 pts.) for your work as a judge.



€               Only one pair will be permitted to pursue a given question (see sign-up sheet).

€               You may use additional visual aids during your class presentation.

€               The criteria for evaluation are included in the grading rubric following the proposal form. Turn it in as a cover page to your report.


Plant Investigation Assignment Proposal Form


Names  ___________________________                                    Section _______________


1. The specific research question we want to investigate using Brassica rapa is:






2. This is an interesting problem from a scientific standpoint because:






3. Here is a brief description of the design of the investigation we propose to use to address the above problem:














4. Here is a brief description of how we propose to collect data during the course of the investigation:









5. Here is the reference we consulted to determine how to design our experiment (e.g., what would be a suitable concentration):



6. Based on what we know about Brassica and plants in general, here is a brief statement of what we anticipate we will find: