Organizing and Presenting Science Fair Project Findings
A vital part of the scientific method is being able to analyze your results and observations (data) so that you can form a sound conclusion. This is basically performed through two means of analyses: qualitative analysis and quantitative analysis. Qualitative analysis is not based on measurements, rather it is a means of analysis that provides your observation; for example, “what components were found in a sample,” or “whether an experimental group of plants performed better than the control group of plants.” Quantitative analysis, on the other hand, is based purely on measurements and always involves numbers—for example, “how much of a given component is present in a sample,” or “how much the experimental group of plants grew in comparison to the control group of plants.” While qualitative analysis is important to the explanation of your results, it is quantitative analysis that truly expresses your ability as a student scientist to interpret your data in a more precise and objective way that will provide a useful means for the interpretation of your conclusions by others. The remainder of this chapter is devoted to the interpretation, use, and explanation of the numerical data you have gathered from your experiment.
A very important part of explaining your results and observations to others is by giving meaning to your numerical data and the conclusions you formed from it. Since you began your experiment, you have been gathering data. Data are essentially groups of figures for a given experiment. During the initial stages of an experiment, they may have little meaning so it is important that you compile and organize your data accurately for your final analysis, observations, and conclusions. A good way to keep data is to record them in your project journal. After you have written down all the experimental results in an organized way, you can easily refer to your results to make generalizations and conclusions. There are several methods of presenting data, including the basic tabular, graphic, and statistical methods.
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