Hypothetical Research Plan


Microbiology: Hypothetical Research Plan Introduction Microorganisms are everywhere. This may seem like a very non-scientific sentence, but it is in fact true. Bacteria (and molds, yeast, etc.) can be found in almost every habitat, including some that do not have a large supply of nutrients or water. In some cases these microorganisms are simply ‘visitors’ that have been carried to an area by humans, animals or simply blown in on dust particles. In other cases the bacteria live and grow there such as bacteria found in water or soil. An important part of this class is developing an appreciation for this ‘ubiquity.’ As an introduction to your laboratory experience you will construct an experiment to demonstrate this, as well as introduce you to scientific inquiry.  You will be creating a hypothetical plan in which you will explain how you would sample different areas for the presence of microorganisms (primarily bacteria and fungi) by swabbing an area with a sterile saline swab and then swabbing a plate of media with the swab. The plan should include incubation of these plates and the assessment of the amount of bacteria in the area sampled by counting the number of colonies on the plates. Assignment I. Hypothesis Write a hypothesis for your experiment. A hypothesis is a predictive statement concerning the outcome of a study or series of studies. It is always written as a statement, neither as a question nor an ‘if, then’ statement. For example, let’s pretend that you work for a zoo and there is a problem with the elephants. They are getting sick and have diarrhea (eeek! an elephant with diarrhea? Stand back!) You wonder if there is an elevated bacterial count in the elephant pen compared to the other animals. Therefore, your hypothesis might be, “More bacteria is present on the floor of the elephant pen than in the other animal pens.” Then you would set out to sample the animal pens. For your experiment you should sample four different areas – you could do two of the same type of area (i.e. two elephant pens) and compare to two samplings from another area OR you could do four different areas. Think broadly!  II. Rationale This is a justification statement for your hypothesis. In other words, why do you think your hypothesis is correct? For example, let’s continue with the hypothesis that more bacteria are present on the floor of the elephant pen than in the other animal pens. You know that the elephants have diarrhea and that the other animals do not and you know that some diarrhea can be caused by bacteria; therefore, your hypothesis follows logically from your knowledge and observations (and can be based on previous research or popular belief). A hypothesis without a strong rationale is probably not worth testing since your results would be hard to interpret. III. Materials and Methods Tell me how you would carry out the experiment and what you would use to do it. Your hypothetical materials are: six plates of trypticase soy agar (TSA), six sterile swabs, and a tube of sterile saline. Two of the plates you would use as controls. Good, meaningful, experiments are well-controlled. That is, there are some samples included that will you know will be negative or positive. They indicate that the experiment worked or did not work and that you can trust the information on your experimental plates. The negative control in your experiment would be an uninoculated plate. For your positive control you would simply take the lid off your plate and expose it to the air for an hour. Also, I want you to tell me the approximate surface area you would sample (i.e. four square inches). This should be the same for each sampled area. Finally, tell me at what temperature you would incubate the plates–37OC or room temperature. IV. Title This is listed last because you should write it last, but it should go at the top of the page and should be in all capital letters. It should describe what you are doing, not just say “Ubiquity Experiment”. From our example above, a good title would be – A COMPARISON OF THE AMOUNT OF BACTERIA IN THE ELEPHANT PENS AT THE LINCOLN PARK ZOO. V. Format The research plan should be typed, double-spaced, in Times New Roman 12 point font, and with 1” margins. It should be ½ to 1 page in length. Submit on Canvas! The file should be either doc, docx, or pdf. Rubric Hypothetical Research Proposal Hypothetical Research Proposal Criteria Ratings Pts This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Title *Descriptive *All caps This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Hypothesis *Provides clear guess as to the outcome of the experiment. This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Rationale *Reason for choosing hypothesis *Based in fact and not conjecture *Clearly links observation to hypothesis This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Materials and MEthods *In paragraph form *Explains positive and negative controls *Identifies all locations/surfaces to be sampled *Identifies size of area to be swabbed *Indicates incubation temperature This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Format *Half page to 1 page in length *Times New Roman 12pt font *1″ margins *Double spaced

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