Do Science

A boy and a girl using forceps and a probe to dissect owl pellets to explore the predator-prey relationships in an ecosystem

One of the big goals of Urban Advantage is to help teachers and students in UA schools conduct “Long Term Science Investigations.” “Long Term Science Investigations” can take a variety of forms, but they are all about “Doing Science!” These investigations can address questions in life, physical, and earth science, and you might approach your question using one of several different “investigation strategies” (as a controlled experiment, field investigation, design investigation or secondary research). This page is intended to help UA students think about, and see examples of these different sorts of investigations.

Request help completing your Science Project from an Urban Advantage Team member
Two girls adding a few drops of different liquids to a white powdered material and recording their observations of the reaction in a chart

Two girls adding a few drops of different liquids to a white powdered material and recording their observations of the reaction in a chart

An investigation of the effect of different liquids on a powder.

A controlled experiment is an experiment in which you change one thing (independent variable) and measure how this change affects something else (dependent variable). In a controlled experiment you design an investigation based upon background research and your hypothesis.
To raise your confidence in your findings, it is a good idea to conduct at least 5 trials for each level of your independent variable.

Example experiments include:

The effect of pendulum length on the period of pendulum’s swing

The effect of nitrogen concentration on the growth of potted plants

Two girls using a colorimetric chemical test to measure the dissolved oxygen in the water of a stream

An investigation of the effect of different liquids on a powder.

Investigators measuring the dissolved oxygen in the water of a stream.

A field study is an investigation in which you choose to observe and measure how one part of a natural system affects another. For this type of investigation you do not change anything in the environment yourself but rather collect data on the conditions in the field, as they exist. Based on background research and your hypothesis you may choose to obtain data in different locations where some aspect of the environment might be different, at different times of day or seasons, etc.


In an investigation with animals you will be observing and quantifying the animals’ behaviors or location based upon another factor you choose.

Example investigations include:

The effect of proximity of feeding time on the barking behavior of sealions

The effect of water flow rate on turbidity

The effect of a change in air pressure on rainfall

Two straw rockets on a table with more fins to add to the rockets and a tape measure for seeing how far the rockets fly.

How will the number of fins affect the distance these two rockets will fly?

During a Design Investigation you evaluate different designs by testing multiple independent variables using controlled experiments. With background information, and the data collected, you analyze your results to identify the best features of your design. You then design, and test the best solution to see if it meets your design challenge.


Example experiments include:

The effect of fin number and nose cone mass on distance a rocket flies

The effect of trebuchet arm length and counter weight mass on distance a projectile is tossed

 

 

Computer displaying the Patterns Investigating Weather & Climate website by the American Museum of Natural History

A great deal of weather and climate data is gathered by different organizations and is available over the internet. This computer is displaying the “Patterns Investigating Weather & Climate” graphing tool on the American Museum of Natural History’s website.

A secondary research investigation utilizes data collected by other scientists. After obtaining background information about the system you are curious about, you will create a hypothesis about how one part of the system affects another. This hypothesis is tested by analyzing data sets on these two variables, and reflect on whether or not your hypothesis is supported by the data

Example investigations include:

The effect of zebra mussel population density on turbidity

The effect of wind direction on precipitation in New York City