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Written Assignment 1: Trace the Scientific Method in a Primary Research Scientific Article

Addresses the following course goals/objectives:

  • recognize and explain how the scientific method is used to solve problems
  • weigh evidence and make decisions based on strengths and limitations of scientific knowledge and the scientific method

Before attempting this assignment, you will want to revisit the Scientific Method Tutorial in the Science Learning Center under the Course Content area.  In addition, you will need to read and review the following article in your reserved reading area in the WebTycho classroom.

Yamauchi et al. (2010).  Coffee and caffeine ameliorate hyperglycemia, fatty liver, and inflammatory adipocytokine expression in spontaneously diabetic KK-Ay mice .  Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry58 (9), 5597-5603. May 12, PMID: 20405946, ISSN: 1520-5118.

Based on the paper above and using lab mice, researchers investigated whether or not coffee prevented the development of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). The mice used in this experiment have a mutation that makes them become diabetic.(see  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100609111316.htm)

A group of 11 mice was given water, and another group of 10  mice was supplied with diluted black coffee (coffee:water 1:1) as drinking fluids for five weeks. The composition of the diets and living conditions were similar for both groups of mice. Blood glucose was monitored weekly for all mice. After five weeks, there was no change in average body weight between groups. Results indicated that blood glucose concentrations increased significantly in the mice that drank water compared with those that were supplied with coffee. Finally, blood glucose concentration in the coffee group exhibited a 30 percent decrease compared with that in the water group.

(In the original paper*, the investigators acknowledged that the coffee for the experiment was supplied as a gift from a corporation.)

Answer the following questions by providing a clearly organized, explained, and written set of responses.  Be sure to explain "why" observations occurred when requested.  Please clearly number your responses to match up with the numbered questions below.  A well developed paragraph will suffice for each question.

1. What was the hypothesis of this experiment? (Reminder: Hypothesis is a statement.) What question(s) was (were) the investigator asking?

2. Which group of mice represents the control group and which one represents the treatment group? Why?

3. Did the researchers follow the scientific method in their experimental design? Explain.

4. Do you think that there may be any possible biases or other problems in this experiment? Explain.

5. Based on the data, was the hypothesis supported, and what can you conclude from this experiment?


Written Assignment 2: Biology in the Real World (Position Paper)

Addresses the following course goals and objectives:

  • use knowledge of biological principles to ask relevant questions about the natural world
  • make observations and discriminate between scientific and pseudoscientific explanations

1. Select  one of the following topics as the focus of your paper.

a)  Genetically modified food. What is the purpose of human-made genetic recombinations in food? Are foods that contain genes resulting from artificial genetic recombinations really safe? What foods in your supermarket result from genetic recombination? What types of regulations exist for these foods? (For example, you might search the Food and Drug Administration website.) Clearly explain your reasoning for each answer.



2. Find articles related to the topic you selected. You can find assistance with searching for articles at the UMUC Library Subject Guides at  http://libguides.umuc.edu/science.   These articles must be used to support your arguments, cited in the text where they are used, and included in a reference list at the end of your paper.

3. Write two pages, double spaced, excluding references. You must read the articles that you find and summarize the information they contain briefly in your own words. Extensive quotes from the article are discouraged. This assignment demonstrates the acceptable, ethical, and academic method for citing information from a public source. You may not use online encyclopedias as a source more than once.  Use APA style for citing references (see http://www.umuc.edu/library/guides/apa.html).

4. Post your assignment to your Assignments folder. 

Writing Assignment Grading (applies to both writing assignments)

1. Content (40 percent)

Your paper should be written in your own words, it must relate to your selected topic, and it must address all components of the question(s) asked. You will be graded based on the information you provide, as well as the credibility of the sources you cite. (Assistance with evaluating web resources can be found at  http://www.umuc.edu/library/how.shtml.)

2. Contribution (50 percent)

You will be graded on how you express your ideas on the content that you provided. You should analyze and defend your ideas based on what you have learned from your research on your topic.  These points also include the use of citations to defend your position.

3. Form (10 percent)

Both writing assignments must be written with proper formatting, spelling, and grammar.  Citations need to cited correctly with appropriate formats.


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