Bio Project

Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Fri Jan 31 09:21:21 EST 1997

At  6:34 PM 1/30/97 +0000, SkiRa81207 wrote:
>   Hi! My name is Alison and at my school we're working on these bio
>projects. My project is to see if Plants are affected by music. I have
>done the experiment and repeated it twice. I have taken the data and now
>all i need is the do research on plants and so on.

Alison, I applaud your willingness to dive into this project
and gather your own data.  I hope your instructor/mentor has
helped you to be sure you have adequate controls on the
project.  It really is not good enough to expose plants to
music and observe growth.  You need a second group of plants
that are NOT exposed to music.  Both groups need to have ALL
other variables the same--same water, same light, same fertilizer,
same soil, same drainage, same size container, same temperature,
etc.  If students do have untreated controls, frequently there
is another variable that could explain any differences between
the experimental group and the control group.  Next, it is
important that each group have a reasonably large number of
plants in it.  A reasonable starting number might be 10 plants,
though a larger group would be even better.  The ten plants
should all be the same species and from seeds from the same
batch/envelope.  Now if you HAVE done all of this, go ahead
and TRUST your data.  There are "trade" books published that
are not reviewed by real scientists.  These often show results
that cannot be repeated when adequate controls are used.  You
cannot believe everything you read.  What you have done, I hope,
is a really great controlled experiment.  From this, if you find
that there is NO EFFECT of music, well, maybe there is a good
reason for that!  Learning a good statistical test with the help
of your biology or math instructor can assist you in making
decisions about the significance of your results.

>The only problem is I
>can find any info. except this oe book.

Good science is repeatable.  Anyone can repeat it and get similar
results.  If they do and it gets published, you have a good
verification of the findings.  If you don't find anything about
the effect of music on plants in journals such as Plant Physiology,
the American Journal of Botany, and so on, then a warning flag
should shoot up.  There are two good reasons that someone's findings
are not repeated and verified.  One is that no one is really
interested in following up on the project.  I have done some
work myself that has never been verified by another lab...but
then almost no one on earth asks the kind of questions I did in
those publications.  The other reason for no follow-up is that
no one could repeat the project and get the same kind of results;
the original report is questionable.

Having repeated what you found in one publication, did your results
agree?  If not, the lack of other publications on the subject,
probably means that you are not alone in getting no meaningful
differences.  The original work is likely flawed.   Sometimes a
lack of follow-up findings speaks volumes about a particular piece
of work.

In my opinion it is unfortunate that people don't publish their
results that disagree with other (especially singular) publications.
The lack of any refutation, indicates to some people that the work
is valid.  This leads to complete misinterpretation by the common
media, which has an impact on elementary, and high school science
teaching and learning.  To my limited knowledge there is NO impact
of music on plants in controlled experiments, yet the idea that
there IS an impact of music on plants is reinforced in schools
nationwide.  It is unfortunate that most students will not do
the critical controlled experiments to understand for themselves
that some publications are simply wrong.  I'm glad you have
tested it out.  Maybe you could report your results to this group?
Be sure to tell us about your controls.

Good Luck!


Ross Koning                 | koning at
Biology Department          |
Eastern CT State University | phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT 06226 USA   | fax: 860-465-4479

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