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Help with science project

Postby Kristirae » Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:41 am

My ten year old daughter has to do a science project using the Scientific Method. She chose the one on your website “ What is the fastest way to cool a soda”, after taking the wizard quiz.
She has done a good job , and made a good hypothesis based on her research and has proven it true based on the experiment your website provided. We all had fun and helped when she needed it. She understands what has happened with heat transfer , but I do not want to elaborate and give away information since other kids may read this before doing the experiment. My husband has gone over it with her as well. Her written problem and hypothesis though seem to simplistic , but it is her first time doing one. She has written for her question or problem as - What is the fastest way to cool a soda ?... I am thinking she needs to elaborate a little more with something like , “ What cooling method will bring a room temperature soda down to a nice cold temperature the fastest ? Basing this on the introduction the experiment details gave on the website.
On her hypothesis she has just written - “ I think the Ice-Water bath method will cool the soda down the fastest. “
I referred to the If __ then __ statement on writing a hypothesis. Should it be more like this ? – If a room temperature soda is to cool off in the fastest amount of time, then the ice water bath will be the fastest method. Also since the experiment involved the refrigerator , freezer ,ice- bath, and ice- water bath for testing , does she need to state those in the Problem or Hypothesis ? She has her controlled variables listed as the 12 cans of room temperature Coke. , and the time in each cooling device will be the same . Independent Variable is the different methods of cooling – Refrigerator, ice-bath, ice water bath and freezer. The dependent variable is the temperature of the coke that is being measured . Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
I would also like to know with regards to the experiment , because we did it twice. When taking the temperature of the sodas at room temperature some were at 73.0 F and 72.9 F , 72.8 F respectively among the twelve cans used in each experiment. Should she list all twelve temperatures or take an average of those as well ? Thank you for entertaining my questions. It has been a long time since my science project days , and this 50 yr old mama is trying to guide as best as I know how. I am a perfectionist to a fault , so I am trying not to be to hard on her with this and ruin the experience, but I do feel she needs to pay attention to detail with regards to how she states things. Thank You

Kristi Stimson

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Re: Help with science project

Postby eedoherty » Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:04 pm

Hi Kristi,

It sounds like your daughter has done a great job with the project so far! I'm glad that the online guidelines were helpful.
I'd say that the details for the question and hypothesis would likely vary based on what level she is in school.
For the written question, including specifics like "room temperature" and defining what temperature you are using for "cold" makes it easier to transition the question into a testable hypothesis. Depending on her level, the question she posed is simple but does have the basic requirements that you should be looking for in a question: there is a variable to test (cooling condition), prior resources on the subject, and it is interesting/broad enough to design an experiment around.

For more information on the project question and a few examples, see: ... ctquestion

For the hypothesis "If__ Then__" statements are a great format to refer to, but are not always necessary to create a strong hypothesis. The hypothesis should include the independent variable (the factor you change in an experiment) and a dependent variable (the factor you measure). As long as those two components are clearly included, the hypothesis is valid.

For example:
Larger animals of the same species expend more energy than smaller animals of the same type. To get the energy their bodies need, the larger animals eat more food. (from: ... hypothesis)

Depending on the requirements for her hypothesis, it may be helpful to include a "Because" type statement in your daughter's hypothesis similar to the first sentence in the example. In scientific writing it is also good practice to avoid "I" statements, but this would again depend on your daughter's level. A way to do this would be "If the Coke is put in different conditions, then the Coke will cool most quickly in the ice-water. Colder temperatures will cause liquids to change temperature more quickly and water transfers heat better than air" or something of that nature, depending on how she predicted that the ice water bath would be the fastest. This type of statement may or may not be appropriate for your daughter depending on how sophisticated they are expecting her hypothesis to be. In the link above to writing a hypothesis, there is a "yes" "no" checklist that may be helpful to see if her hypothesis works- you will notice that the checklist does not require a reasoning sentence, so again this is optional.

The prediction would include all of the conditions that were tested. For controlled variable make sure it is what is kept the same every time-- this would be the type of soda / container used, possibly the thermometer used, start temperature, etc. You are correct that independent variable would be method of cooling. Since you are testing how quickly the Coke is cooled, the dependent variable would be how much time it takes for a Coke to go from room temperature to "cold". It may be helpful to define a temperature for "cold" so that this is more easily measurable.

For the purpose of this experiment I would say that averaging the starting temperatures would be fine. If your daughter is required to include a raw data/ data section then these temperatures could be put in this section, but for the conclusion of her project I think an average would be fine, since the dependent variable you are measuring is the time, and the starting temperatures are all very close together and are supposed to be a controlled variable.

It is always a good idea to pay attention to how you are communicating things in science projects and science writing, but it takes a lot of practice! It's great that you are helping her through this learning experience. I hope that I answered all of your questions. Best of luck to your daughter on the rest of her project!


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