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Investigation: Set Up and Collect Data

After designing the procedure and gathering the materials, it is time to set up and to carry out the investigation.

When setting up the investigation, students will need to consider…

The location Choose a low traffic area to reduce the risk of someone accidentally tampering with the investigation results—especially if the investigation lasts for several weeks.
Safety Avoid harmful accidents by using safe practices.
  • The use of construction tools or potentially harmful chemicals will require adult supervision.
  • Locate the nearest sink or fire extinguisher as a safety precaution.
  • Determine how to dispose of materials. For example, some chemicals should not be mixed together or put down a sink drain.
  • Wear protective clothing such as goggles and gloves. Tie back loose hair so that it does not get caught on any of the equipment.
Documentation Making a rough sketch or recording notes of the investigation set up is helpful if the experiment is to be repeated in the future.

Carrying out the investigation involves data collection. There are two types of data that may be collected—quantitative data and qualitative data.

Quantitative Data

  1. Uses numbers to describe the amount of something.
  2. Involves tools such as rulers, timers, graduated cylinders, etc.
  3. Uses standard metric units (For instance, meters and centimeters for length, grams for mass, and degrees Celsius for volume.
  4. May involve the use of a scale such as in the example below.

Qualitative Data

  • Uses words to describe the data
  • Describes physical properties such as how something looks, feels, smells, tastes, or sounds.
Stain Removal Results
4 no change
3 faded
2 slightly faded
1 gone

As data is collected it can be organized into lists and tables. Organizing data will be helpful for identifying relationships later when making an analysis. Encourage students to make use of technology such as spreadsheets to organize their data.