Ross Koning Koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Fri Jan 26 09:36:00 EST 1996

At  2:12 AM 1/25/96 -0800, Linneaus00 at aol.com wrote:
>What was the result--not that it is signigicant but just out of curiosity? I
>too saw a project involving electricity and plants. The student used a small
>battery to create a slight field in the tray in which the experimental plants
>grew. They did MUCH better than the controls. There were not many plants, as
>I remember, and I can't say much about what the actual circumstances of the
>'experiment' were but it made me wonder. I can't imagine that much of the
>small electromagnetic field generated by his apparatus escaped into the
>control tray. On the other hand, I can't see exactly how it could do any good
>to the experimentals either. My feeling at the time was that unless the
>student had cheated (deliberately stunted the controls) something must have
>gone on.


The HS student's project I judged at the fair, had three or
perhaps four typical houseplants in each tray.  They were of
three (or four) different species.  I was glad to see that
the species were matched between treatment & control.  But with
only one plant per species, the sample size was too small to say
much.  He said there was a very significant difference between
the plants, but provided little data in the "notebook" in the
display.  The kids like glossy photos better than graphs.
They are under the mistaken impression that looks are more
important than high-quality science in terms of the judging.
The plants looked very close to me.  His conclusion was that
the EMF stimulated growth.  With the strong EMF in the control
tray, I would say that any differences that may have been
observed were best attributed to chance operating within a small
sample (n=1).  In one sense he had an EMF manipulation with
n=2 (difference attributed to normal variation in the sample)
and no control...thus no real experiment...just a project.  A
strong component of my judging is always how a student responds
to questions in the interview part.  I like it when they can
answer how they would change their project in light of our
discussion.  Those who can see their problems and how to fix
them do very well with me.  If they can see the next step in
the inquiry, that goes a long way too.


( )______________________________________________)
 \ Ross Koning                                  \
  \ Biology Department                           \
   \ Eastern CT State University                  \
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     \ Koning at ecsu.ctstateu.edu                     \
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