Ask an Expert: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills  Page 8
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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Hi Sybee,
Thank you for your help!
Last night I was looking through all of my stuff and I realized I made a mistake. I had taken the diameter of all the oil spill circles. Its ok because I can use the measurements I took in real life (the diameter) to find the area of the circles to compare Image J to. I also have a couple of pictures that I know what some of the segments length was. You mentioned that I might have a problem because of how close I kept my camera, but because I worked under a fume hood I was able to keep my arms level. It is slightly hard to describe but I know that all of the pictures were taken from basically the same exact height.
So when I draw the line in Image J will it tell me the area of the circle segments of oil?
Vlance
Thank you for your help!
Last night I was looking through all of my stuff and I realized I made a mistake. I had taken the diameter of all the oil spill circles. Its ok because I can use the measurements I took in real life (the diameter) to find the area of the circles to compare Image J to. I also have a couple of pictures that I know what some of the segments length was. You mentioned that I might have a problem because of how close I kept my camera, but because I worked under a fume hood I was able to keep my arms level. It is slightly hard to describe but I know that all of the pictures were taken from basically the same exact height.
So when I draw the line in Image J will it tell me the area of the circle segments of oil?
Vlance

 Expert
 Posts: 1801
 Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:00 am
 Occupation: Retired molecular biologist, university researcher and teacher
Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
You are welcome, Vlance. Glad I could assist you in creating a winning project.
That's a bit of luck that you held the camera steady at the same height. Otherwise, comparison would have been impossible.
Follow the instructions in the ImageJ guide for calibrating the measurements. As I read it, all you have to do is use the line tool to draw a line of known length and then enter that length in centimeters and the name of the units in the dialog box and the app will convert pixels to cm.
I'll try the ImageJ calibration tomorrow and see if i can get it to work. That way I'll know what to tell you if you have a question.
I just want to make sure I understand how you are quantitating the oil slick areas. You will use the drawing tool to outline the oil slick on the image and that will give you its area. Is that right? Did the oil slick stay together in one area or did it break up into separate parts? If it is in sections, you may have to outline each part and add them together to get a total area.
I hope you did at least three measurements for each oil slick treatment. Then you can average the areas and use an online statistics app to calculate the standard deviation and standard error. This is very important! You cannot prove that there is a difference between two averages unless you know the standard deviation. If all this is unfamiliar to you, do a quick online course in basic statistics. You don't have to wait for teachers to feed you information. The internet is a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be tapped. Educate yourself and follow your interests.
Good luck!
Sybee
That's a bit of luck that you held the camera steady at the same height. Otherwise, comparison would have been impossible.
Follow the instructions in the ImageJ guide for calibrating the measurements. As I read it, all you have to do is use the line tool to draw a line of known length and then enter that length in centimeters and the name of the units in the dialog box and the app will convert pixels to cm.
I'll try the ImageJ calibration tomorrow and see if i can get it to work. That way I'll know what to tell you if you have a question.
I just want to make sure I understand how you are quantitating the oil slick areas. You will use the drawing tool to outline the oil slick on the image and that will give you its area. Is that right? Did the oil slick stay together in one area or did it break up into separate parts? If it is in sections, you may have to outline each part and add them together to get a total area.
I hope you did at least three measurements for each oil slick treatment. Then you can average the areas and use an online statistics app to calculate the standard deviation and standard error. This is very important! You cannot prove that there is a difference between two averages unless you know the standard deviation. If all this is unfamiliar to you, do a quick online course in basic statistics. You don't have to wait for teachers to feed you information. The internet is a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be tapped. Educate yourself and follow your interests.
Good luck!
Sybee
Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Hi Sybee,
I actually figured out all my questions just now. I was playing with Image J and I figured it out. When I put the solution on it split the oil up into smaller segments. What I did for regionals is I recorded the biggest segements measurements and the smallest segments measurements. I showed the range of how small and big the segments could be with the solution on. Is that wrong? I worry with the fair being on Saturday and having to reprint everything that I will not be able to learn statistics. Is that something that the judges will be upset about? I also am a little worried on time because tomorrow night I have a performance for my school play.
Vlance
I actually figured out all my questions just now. I was playing with Image J and I figured it out. When I put the solution on it split the oil up into smaller segments. What I did for regionals is I recorded the biggest segements measurements and the smallest segments measurements. I showed the range of how small and big the segments could be with the solution on. Is that wrong? I worry with the fair being on Saturday and having to reprint everything that I will not be able to learn statistics. Is that something that the judges will be upset about? I also am a little worried on time because tomorrow night I have a performance for my school play.
Vlance

 Expert
 Posts: 1801
 Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:00 am
 Occupation: Retired molecular biologist, university researcher and teacher
Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Good morning Vlance. Don't worry. You have enough time to complete the project. I did not mean for you to learn statistics in two days!
Take a few minutes to read Scibuddies' explanation of the importance of statistics to a science project https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science ... eprojects
then watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efdRmGq ... pQVQv5DSe8
which shows you how to use MSOffice Excel to calculate the mean (x with a little bar over it) and standard deviation (SD).
Standard error of the mean (SEM) is the SD divided by the square root of the number of readings. Say you did the same experiment 4 times and got an average area of 120 square cm. Then you calculated the SD for your readings and came up with a value of 16. So, the SEM would be 16 divided by the square root of 4, which is 2, and your SEM would therefore be 8.
You would report your average reading as 120 plus or minus 8.
Now, in order to compare the readings with and without phytol, you calculate the means plus or minus SEM. First compare the means. How close are the values to each other? Now add or subtract the SEM's and compare again. If the values are still different then it means statistically that they probably ARE different. There is a test that needs to be done to prove this difference at what is called the 95% confidence level, but only do that if you have time.
This basic statistical analysis of your data is absolutely necessary to prove to the judges that your hypothesis that phytol improves oil spill cleanup is true. Just showing that two means are different does not prove that they are different and no scientist would accept your results.
Keep at it! You're almost done!
Sybee
Take a few minutes to read Scibuddies' explanation of the importance of statistics to a science project https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science ... eprojects
then watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efdRmGq ... pQVQv5DSe8
which shows you how to use MSOffice Excel to calculate the mean (x with a little bar over it) and standard deviation (SD).
Standard error of the mean (SEM) is the SD divided by the square root of the number of readings. Say you did the same experiment 4 times and got an average area of 120 square cm. Then you calculated the SD for your readings and came up with a value of 16. So, the SEM would be 16 divided by the square root of 4, which is 2, and your SEM would therefore be 8.
You would report your average reading as 120 plus or minus 8.
Now, in order to compare the readings with and without phytol, you calculate the means plus or minus SEM. First compare the means. How close are the values to each other? Now add or subtract the SEM's and compare again. If the values are still different then it means statistically that they probably ARE different. There is a test that needs to be done to prove this difference at what is called the 95% confidence level, but only do that if you have time.
This basic statistical analysis of your data is absolutely necessary to prove to the judges that your hypothesis that phytol improves oil spill cleanup is true. Just showing that two means are different does not prove that they are different and no scientist would accept your results.
Keep at it! You're almost done!
Sybee
Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Hi Sybee,
I figured out how to the statistical analysis, I found a calculator that was able to help me. My pvalue told me that my values were not significant, but that is only comparing the different prototypes. The fact that the prototypes do not really change any of the values is actually really good. It means that people can use Prototype 1 and have it work just as well as Prototype 4 but not hurt any organisms! I had to do two analysis because I have tables for the maximum areas of the segments and for the minimum area of the segments.
Vlance
I figured out how to the statistical analysis, I found a calculator that was able to help me. My pvalue told me that my values were not significant, but that is only comparing the different prototypes. The fact that the prototypes do not really change any of the values is actually really good. It means that people can use Prototype 1 and have it work just as well as Prototype 4 but not hurt any organisms! I had to do two analysis because I have tables for the maximum areas of the segments and for the minimum area of the segments.
Vlance

 Expert
 Posts: 1801
 Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:00 am
 Occupation: Retired molecular biologist, university researcher and teacher
Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Good morning,
I'm a little confused. What do you mean 'prototype'? A prototype is an original model of something like an early mobile phone was the prototype of today's smart phones. I suggest you look up the definition of prototype so that you are sure that you are using the correct word.
So, tell medoes your data prove that phytol causes an oil slick to contract or not? What was your original hypothesis?
The determination of the areas of the oil slick before and after phytol treatment is the most important measurement in your project. And now I am confused again. What do you mean by maximum and minimum areas? Do you mean 'before' and 'after'? You do not want to confuse the judges by using words that do not express your meaning accurately.
Get back to me with a better explanation of your message and I will try to understand what you are saying.
Sybee
I'm a little confused. What do you mean 'prototype'? A prototype is an original model of something like an early mobile phone was the prototype of today's smart phones. I suggest you look up the definition of prototype so that you are sure that you are using the correct word.
So, tell medoes your data prove that phytol causes an oil slick to contract or not? What was your original hypothesis?
The determination of the areas of the oil slick before and after phytol treatment is the most important measurement in your project. And now I am confused again. What do you mean by maximum and minimum areas? Do you mean 'before' and 'after'? You do not want to confuse the judges by using words that do not express your meaning accurately.
Get back to me with a better explanation of your message and I will try to understand what you are saying.
Sybee
Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Hi Sybee,
I am sorry for all the confusion. Ignore what I was saying, I accidentally organized the statistical analysis wrong. My teacher is helping me put it in the right spots right now so I will get back to you with the results.
Vlance
I am sorry for all the confusion. Ignore what I was saying, I accidentally organized the statistical analysis wrong. My teacher is helping me put it in the right spots right now so I will get back to you with the results.
Vlance

 Expert
 Posts: 1801
 Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:00 am
 Occupation: Retired molecular biologist, university researcher and teacher
Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
OK. Did you say that your regional or state science fair was this weekend on Saturday?
I'll be waiting for your next post.
Sybee
I'll be waiting for your next post.
Sybee
Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Hi Sybee,
My State fair is tomorrow. My teacher helped me and we were able to find the pvalues using a program in google excel. I will explain the complicated part of my data. I found that a lot of segments that congealed were not together in one big clump and there was a lot of them all over the ocean water. I decided that to evaluate this data I would take the area of the smallest segments and the biggest one using Image J to give me a range of how small and big the segments would be when the solution was put on. So therefore I had tables that were for the maximum areas (the area's of the biggest segments) and minimum areas (the area's of the smallest segments). Since I had these two different tables I then had to find two pvalues. For the maximum areas I found that the pvalue was 0 (my teacher is gonna check my work to make sure I did it right) and the minimum areas had a pvalue of 0.00000001772857061. So this showed me that there was a very slight chance my results were do to chance. I hope I explained this well, it is hard to explain everything I'm doing online.
Vlance
My State fair is tomorrow. My teacher helped me and we were able to find the pvalues using a program in google excel. I will explain the complicated part of my data. I found that a lot of segments that congealed were not together in one big clump and there was a lot of them all over the ocean water. I decided that to evaluate this data I would take the area of the smallest segments and the biggest one using Image J to give me a range of how small and big the segments would be when the solution was put on. So therefore I had tables that were for the maximum areas (the area's of the biggest segments) and minimum areas (the area's of the smallest segments). Since I had these two different tables I then had to find two pvalues. For the maximum areas I found that the pvalue was 0 (my teacher is gonna check my work to make sure I did it right) and the minimum areas had a pvalue of 0.00000001772857061. So this showed me that there was a very slight chance my results were do to chance. I hope I explained this well, it is hard to explain everything I'm doing online.
Vlance

 Expert
 Posts: 1801
 Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:00 am
 Occupation: Retired molecular biologist, university researcher and teacher
Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Oh, thanks for taking the time to explain better. Now I see what you did. When you make a big change like that to your project, you need to tell us. We are here as scientist helpers to advise you on the best way to do your experiments, but we need your input to do that. An error in your procedure can make all the results invalid.
I'm still not clear on what you measured. I know it is hard to explain completely in a post but please try.
What I am getting is that you chose the largest parts (maximum) of the oil slick after phytol application and measured the area of those and then chose the smallest parts (minimum) and measured those. Am i right?
OK. So, how many measurements of area did you average in order to get the mean and what was the mean and standard deviation of the readings?
What are you comparing? You should have measured the area of the oil slick before phytol and again after phytol. The phytol makes the area smaller. You should be comparing the beforephytol readings to afterphytol readings. If your hypothesis is correct that phytol causes the slick to contract, then your pvalue should be less than 0.05. Both your pvalues are lower than that so your hypothesis should be proven, right?
Is this what you did?
Sybee
I'm still not clear on what you measured. I know it is hard to explain completely in a post but please try.
What I am getting is that you chose the largest parts (maximum) of the oil slick after phytol application and measured the area of those and then chose the smallest parts (minimum) and measured those. Am i right?
OK. So, how many measurements of area did you average in order to get the mean and what was the mean and standard deviation of the readings?
What are you comparing? You should have measured the area of the oil slick before phytol and again after phytol. The phytol makes the area smaller. You should be comparing the beforephytol readings to afterphytol readings. If your hypothesis is correct that phytol causes the slick to contract, then your pvalue should be less than 0.05. Both your pvalues are lower than that so your hypothesis should be proven, right?
Is this what you did?
Sybee
Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Hi Sybee,
You are correct, that is what I did. I actually did record the area of the oil spill before the phytol went on and there was a big difference for all of them. Yes my hypothesis was proven correct. When I saw that my pvalue was 0 I did question it but my teacher and I both confirmed it is right. Apparently there is a 0% chance of the results being by chance which I think it pretty exciting. I had 4 trials so I averaged together 4 numbers to get the mean for each time period and category (maximum or minimum area). I used a program to calculate the statistical analysis so I did not actually find the standard of deviation. I also used a ANOVA Single Factor Test if that helps. Let me know if I misunderstood one of your questions.
Vlance
You are correct, that is what I did. I actually did record the area of the oil spill before the phytol went on and there was a big difference for all of them. Yes my hypothesis was proven correct. When I saw that my pvalue was 0 I did question it but my teacher and I both confirmed it is right. Apparently there is a 0% chance of the results being by chance which I think it pretty exciting. I had 4 trials so I averaged together 4 numbers to get the mean for each time period and category (maximum or minimum area). I used a program to calculate the statistical analysis so I did not actually find the standard of deviation. I also used a ANOVA Single Factor Test if that helps. Let me know if I misunderstood one of your questions.
Vlance

 Expert
 Posts: 1801
 Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:00 am
 Occupation: Retired molecular biologist, university researcher and teacher
Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Hi Vlance,
Thanks for clarifying your project for me. Maybe I'm just being dense but I still don't understand what you are comparing to get a pvalue.
What keeps confusing me is your use of maximum and minimum. That was not part of your hypothesis and I don't see how it fits. If I understood it correctly you said that applying phytol to an oil slick would make it smaller. Wasn't that your hypothesis?
Then, in order to test that hypothesis, all you had to do was measure the TOTAL area of the oil slick before phytol and the TOTAL area of the oil slick after phytol and compare them. If phytol made the slick area smaller and the pvalue was less than 0.05, then there would be a 95% probability that the difference was statistically significant and your hypothesis was supported.
How do you use maximum and minimum in this calculation? What you must compare is total area before to total area after, and in none of your posts have I seen any mention of you adding up all the parts of the oil slick after phytol to get a total area. Can you please clarify this one last part of the method so I can finally understand how you did the experiments.
Sybee
Thanks for clarifying your project for me. Maybe I'm just being dense but I still don't understand what you are comparing to get a pvalue.
What keeps confusing me is your use of maximum and minimum. That was not part of your hypothesis and I don't see how it fits. If I understood it correctly you said that applying phytol to an oil slick would make it smaller. Wasn't that your hypothesis?
Then, in order to test that hypothesis, all you had to do was measure the TOTAL area of the oil slick before phytol and the TOTAL area of the oil slick after phytol and compare them. If phytol made the slick area smaller and the pvalue was less than 0.05, then there would be a 95% probability that the difference was statistically significant and your hypothesis was supported.
How do you use maximum and minimum in this calculation? What you must compare is total area before to total area after, and in none of your posts have I seen any mention of you adding up all the parts of the oil slick after phytol to get a total area. Can you please clarify this one last part of the method so I can finally understand how you did the experiments.
Sybee
Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Hi Sybee,
I took the minimum and maximum areas to show a range of sizes that oil spill segements can be (how small it can get, and how big it can be) and then I found 2 different pvalues for the different catergories. I find myself having trouble explaining this over messages, but my science teacher has approved what I’m comparing and the regional judges understood. My state competition is tomorrow morning and I think that I am ready, I will update you with what happens.
I’m sorry my explanations haven’t been very clear and have caused you confusion,
Vlance
I took the minimum and maximum areas to show a range of sizes that oil spill segements can be (how small it can get, and how big it can be) and then I found 2 different pvalues for the different catergories. I find myself having trouble explaining this over messages, but my science teacher has approved what I’m comparing and the regional judges understood. My state competition is tomorrow morning and I think that I am ready, I will update you with what happens.
I’m sorry my explanations haven’t been very clear and have caused you confusion,
Vlance

 Expert
 Posts: 1801
 Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:00 am
 Occupation: Retired molecular biologist, university researcher and teacher
Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Hope you have a great time at the fair, V! I wish I could be there to cheer you on. I know you will do really well. You have been one of our best students!
Do let us know how you make out and what interesting things you see. I wish you could send pictures.
All the best,
Sybee
Do let us know how you make out and what interesting things you see. I wish you could send pictures.
All the best,
Sybee
Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Hi Sybee,
I just got back from the State Fair and I am very happy to tell you that I received the Optical Society Second Place award with $75. I am very excited as I placed 10th over all out of 267 kids and and I was one person away from placing in the first category. One of my judges gave me his business card and told me to contact him for mentoring and said in 11th or 12th grade I could have a internship with him in Panama. He is going to put a picture of me and my family on his website and he took pictures of my board to translate to Spanish for the kids in Panama to read. My first judge also was very enthusiastic and commended me on all of my work, gave me a high five, and told me I was going to place. My second judge was also very happy with my project and speech.
Thank you for all of your help,
Vlance
I just got back from the State Fair and I am very happy to tell you that I received the Optical Society Second Place award with $75. I am very excited as I placed 10th over all out of 267 kids and and I was one person away from placing in the first category. One of my judges gave me his business card and told me to contact him for mentoring and said in 11th or 12th grade I could have a internship with him in Panama. He is going to put a picture of me and my family on his website and he took pictures of my board to translate to Spanish for the kids in Panama to read. My first judge also was very enthusiastic and commended me on all of my work, gave me a high five, and told me I was going to place. My second judge was also very happy with my project and speech.
Thank you for all of your help,
Vlance