ICBL Strategy 7: Design and Conduct Scientific Investigations

Initial Publication Date: December 31, 2003

Students are encouraged to use available laboratory, field or computer tools and resources. Scientists often begin by synthesizing pieces of existing information into a new theoretical framework (work which may be accompanied by repeated experimental designs as was done by Watson and Crick in modeling DNA). Students might locate or generate data sets, conduct interviews, as well as gather ideas from their reading, library research, and from laboratory and field activities.

The instructor may play an active role here by introducing specific lab activities, equipment, or methodologies, or by introducing students to simulations, datasets or modeling programs that relate to key questions raised by the case. It is up to the instructor to decide how open-ended he or she wishes the investigations to be.

Note: Many of the faculty we work with introduce lab and field activities they have used before in the course, but now ask students to design their own experiments by altering variables or methods.

Examples of investigations for Goodbye Honeybuckets:

  • By comparing decomposition at different temperatures in soils containing different amounts of water (especially focusing on amount of saturation), students can better describe the problems of various strategies for waste management in the tundra.