Follow a Researcher®: Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

May 23rd, 2018 3:13 PM
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Follow a Researcher®

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Catching up, looking ahead, and more scientific practices

In last week’s video, Tyler described gathering, evaluating, and communicating information to direct his focus on the problem of the invasive European green crab, and its parasitic companion, the spiny headed worm.

This week, we put the pieces together to plan an investigation. Tyler has developed his three research questions and decided what information he will need to gather to help him answer them. The next step is making plans to identify the best locations and methods to gather those data. Tyler will discuss how he will be planning and carrying out investigations.

Like we have mentioned before, these are all practices of scientists and engineers. You might notice that some of these practices will show up more than once and rarely by themselves.

This is because the practices are so connected to one another that it is difficult to imagine using only one without one or more others at the same time.

If you’ve ever been on a camping trip, you know how much planning and preparation are involved. You might have experienced a time when you brought too much, or even worse, forgot something important. These mistakes can impact your goals for the trip by affecting how you will meet them, and if they can still be met.

Setting goals

Tyler must clearly define his goals, or criteria, for the trip. “Criterion” (singular) is a term often used in engineering to define a measure for success. Tyler will be successful if he meets criteria such as:

  • staying safe and healthy while in the field, reaching his destinations,
  • collecting enough data,
  • keeping detailed notes, and
  • using the data to answer his research questions.

How will we increase our chance for success?

The task doesn’t end there. Now that Tyler’s criteria for success are defined, he needs to figure out how to meet them most efficiently.

As observers, we have the luxury of imagining the best ways of accomplishing these goals. However, using helicopters to get from place to place along the Maine coast, or using crab-catching robots may not be the most realistic options when it comes to Tyler’s available resources.

Things like time, money, people, equipment, and weather conditions are referred to as constraints in engineering. “Constraints” limit us to doing what we can with what we have. Unfortunately for Tyler, the life of a field researcher is typically not one of luxury. Operating with limited resources means that careful planning is required.

Putting the pieces together

To meet the criteria while considering the constraints, Tyler must revisit his research question: “How many green crabs carry the spiny-headed worm parasite?” As Tyler explains in the video, answering this question involves lots of smaller, but important questions that the team must answer to be well-prepared.

Long before heading out to the field site, answers must be carefully considered to questions such as:

  • What are we trying to find out?
  • What do we think our results might be?
  • What information will we need to use as evidence that can be used to evaluate our predictions?
  • Where will these data come from?
  • How much data do we need?
  • Where do we need to go? What do we need to bring?
  • Should I pack my bathing suit, or my snowsuit?
  • How many days will we need? and
  • How do we get the samples back home safely?

You, the scientist

In the process of planning and carrying out his investigation, Tyler must use additional science and engineering practices. Tyler will have to think and act like an engineer by defining problems and creating solutions to answer questions he has as a scientist. You may notice that in your science experiences both in and out of school, you too are using multiple practices when planning and carrying out investigations.

What Do You Think?

Here are some questions to discuss with your class, or to investigate on your own!

  • What are your experiences with planning a trip and the gear that you would need? What kind of information did you need ahead of time to know what to pack?
  • Do you have any stories of when accidents changed your plans?
  • If Tyler doesn’t find data that supports his hypothesis, did he fail? Is the information that we get still important? What would you pack with you on a trip like this?
  • Do we plan and carry out investigations like scientists in our daily lives? In what ways have you thought like a scientist lately? An engineer?
  • What are other ways that engineering is incorporated into Tyler’s expedition?

Have More Questions?

Join the next live chat on Thursday, May 24, 2018 at 1:00 PM (ET) by searching the hashtag: #umainefar.

Maine 4-H Days

May 21st, 2018 1:50 PM
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UMaine student hugging a cowJuly 20 – 22, 2018
Windsor Fairgrounds, 1154 Main Street, Fryeburg, Maine

Find information and registration materials on our website. Registration opens on June 1st. For more information or questions, please contact Sarah Sparks at sarah.sparks@maine.edu or 207.353.5550. If you do not have online access, please contact your local county office for paper copies of the required forms.

Oxford County 4-H June Jamboree Livestock Clinic, Working Steer, and Horse Clinic

May 21st, 2018 1:42 PM
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horses and UMaine studentsJune 8-10, 2018
Fryeburg Fair Grounds, 1154 Main Street, Fryeburg, Maine

Oxford County 4-H June Jamboree Livestock Clinic, Working Steer and Horse Clinic is being held June 8 through June 10 at the Fryeburg Fair Grounds, 1154 Main Street, Fryeburg, Maine. Workshops are designed for youth completing project work in the areas of sheep, swine, working steer and horse. Horseless riders are also welcome. Rabies vaccines will be available. A Big E Try Out for Working Steer is being held Sunday Morning.

Workshops will include washing, clipping, showmanship, animal handling, and learning activities around zoonotic diseases.

There is a $20.00 registration fee for everyone attending. Camper space is available and meals will be provided starting with breakfast Saturday morning through lunch on Sunday. Check-in begins Friday evening after 5:00 P.M.

For more information about Oxford County June Jamboree, please email maisy.cyr@maine.edu or rebecca.mosley@maine.edu. This event is open to 4-H Families from all counties. Adults and youth must pre-register online due to insurance regulations and to help with meal and activity planning. Registration deadline is May 25.

4-H National Trip (Congress and Conference) and Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF) Winners

May 21st, 2018 1:35 PM
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We recently held interviews for National Trips in Lisbon and Orono. Please, join us in congratulating the following winners for this year’s National Trips, and also the delegates selected for the Citizenship Washington Focus trip in July. We are proud to have you represent Maine 4-H!

Winners for the National 4-H Congress will be traveling to Atlanta, Georgia in November are: Faith D. from Franklin County, Sophie P. and Amelia S. from Cumberland County, Mackensie S. from Waldo County, and the alternate if someone cannot make the trip, will be Gabrielle H. from Piscataquis County.

Winners for the National 4-H Conference will be traveling to Washington DC in April 2019 are:  Janie B. from Kennebec County, Andrew D. from Franklin County, Jessica F. from Cumberland County, Mackenzy L. from Kennebec County and the alternate if someone cannot make the trip will be Devyn H. from Cumberland County.

Delegates to Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF) that will be traveling to Washington DC, the week of the 4th of July are: Samuel P. from Washington County, Savannah and Nathan D. from Knox Lincoln County, Marcus V., Ana S., Abbie K., and Ryan I., from Waldo County, Eugene L. from Kennebec County, Bradley S., Noah and Caleb M., Allison B. from Franklin County, Don S., Natalie D, Matthew D., Lauren P. from Cumberland County, Josiah D from Penobscot County, Gretchen G., Richard H. from Somerset County, Jacob M. from Oxford County.

University of Maine 4-H Shooting Sports Instructor Training

May 21st, 2018 1:26 PM
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shooting instructor on range with studentThe 4-H Shooting Sports program has been steadily growing and the demand for new instructors is growing quickly. This training is for anyone that would like to create a 4-H club that offers archery, rifle, or other disciplines. It is also for folks that simply want to be able to offer shooting activities at outreach events, rod and gun clubs, etc.

Instructors than have access to the equipment held by the Maine 4-H Shooting Sports program to support these activities. The training is a Saturday-Sunday program and includes meals and lodging right here at University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond. We are offering instruction in Archery, Rifle, Shotgun, or Pistol. You can find more information on our website or call 207.665.2068.

Youth Field Day

May 21st, 2018 1:17 PM
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Sunday, June 3, 2018
9:00 AM – 2:00 PM
University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond

Camper holding a fishing rod and fishThe University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond will be hosting our annual Youth Field Day on June 3 from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Youth Field Day is a free community day open to everyone! Bring the family, friends, neighbor or anyone that would enjoy a fun doors outdoors. We offer over 20 program areas that you can simply drop in or out of at your pace.

Activities will include archery, trout fishing, geology, wildlife ecology, canoeing and kayaking, farm and garden tours, and a great deal more. Lunch is provided for $5.00 per person. Plan to join us for a few hours, or the day! You may also plan a picnic lunch on your own. We have a hiking trail to the summit of Mount Christopher for folks that would like to stay longer. For more information, email ronald.fournier@maine.edu or visit our website.

Photo Contest!

May 21st, 2018 1:10 PM
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Maine 4-H Foundation logoFrom Susan Jennings, Maine 4-H Foundation

We know we make a huge difference in the lives of Maine youth through 4-H. I appreciate all of the hard work and dedication our 4-H staff make across Maine. The Maine 4-H Foundation had a great year in 2017 raising over $748,000 in donations and investment income! A great deal of this funding was restricted to your programs! Good job! Our goal for 2018 is to continue to increase our support to 4-H programs across Maine. To make this happen the Maine 4-H Foundation needs to hear about your great programs and see youth in action! Becky Mosley suggested a statewide photo contest and the Foundation Board agreed! Photos make all of the difference! The Maine 4-H Foundation is pleased to announce a new youth, volunteer, and staff photo contest.

To win, submit as many photos (with photo releases) as you like to Susan Jennings by September 1, 2018. Photos need to be originals, have a photo release (for people in the photo), and include the copyright release from the photographer. They need to be digitally submitted to susan.jennings@maine.edu. Please add your name, email contact, age, and photo release information.

Maine Junior Solar Sprint

May 21st, 2018 12:58 PM
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Youth competing in Solar Sprint with their solar-powered vehiclesSaturday, June 2, 2018
10:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Paris Elementary School

The Junior Solar Sprint is a National competition for 5th-8th graders, designed to help youth use ingenuity and the engineering design process to create a solar powered vehicle. Students learn valuable hands-on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills, while also learning about the benefits and importance of renewable energy. This spring, hundreds of students across the State of Maine have been creating solar powered cars in their classrooms, after school programs, 4-H Clubs, and more. The public is more than welcome to attend this fun-filled and exciting state final race!

Awards will be given out in the following categories:

  • craftsmanship
  • creative recycling
  • kids’ choice
  • innovation
  • technical merit
  • speed

We would like to especially thank our 2018 sponsors; please check out our website for more information.

Follow a Researcher®: How do scientists know what data to collect and how to collect it?

May 15th, 2018 11:14 AM
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Follow a Researcher®

How do scientists know what data to collect and how to collect it?

Catching up, looking ahead, and more scientific practices

In last week’s video, Tyler described asking questions and defining problems to direct his focus on the problem of the invasive European green crab, and its relationship to the spiny-headed worm parasite that it has been found to carry. Another step in Tyler’s process was to gather and evaluate information from suggestions made in previous research studies and observations of past events to help develop some testable research questions.

This week, we revisit those questions as Tyler explains how they are used to make decisions about what data will be needed to help answer those questions, and making plans to identify the best locations and methods to gather those data. Tyler will discuss how he will be gathering and analyzing data, planning and carrying out investigations, and designing solutions to problems.

Like we have mentioned before, these are all practices of scientists and engineers. You might notice that some of these practices will show up more than once and rarely by themselves. This is because the practices are so connected to one another that it is difficult to imagine using only one without one or more others at the same time.

For example, if you saw a puddle of water in the middle of the floor (hopefully before you stepped in it), you would immediately start thinking about how it got there, coming up with possible explanations, planning some ways of testing those ideas, and more! It’s just what we do! It’s what makes us all scientists!

Like us, Tyler is doing what scientists do by using many of these practices to answer questions about the green crab in Maine.

Research questions and how they might be answered

Tyler is asking three questions:

  1. How many green crabs are carrying the spiny-headed worm parasite, and how does this number change across bioregions or 5-year time scales?
  2. Does the spiny-headed worm show up more often in certain variations of green crabs (age, size, sex, location, etc.)?
  3. How can we make sure that the capture methods we use are resulting in accurate data?

In order to answer these questions, Tyler will need to rely on observations of the crabs that his team collects from the field. He will also use the expertise and knowledge of other scientists and researchers to gather information that will be important to his study. It is putting these pieces of information together like a puzzle that helps progress our scientific knowledge and solve real-world problems.

Illustration of a green crab with labels: Tyler's Parasitic Research; Invasive Species; Crab Migration; Catching Methods; and Food Processing

Figure 1. Courtesy of William Loyd Tooher IV.

What Do You Think?

Here are some questions to discuss with your class, or to investigate on your own!

  • What topics have you learned about in your science classes recently that might apply to this green crab research?
  • What innovative methods would you use to go catch green crabs on the beach?
  • What other information would you like to learn about my research, in general?
  • How do you communicate the information that you learn in science classes?

Have More Questions?

Other resources

  • For more about NGSS and Scientific and Engineering Practices, see NGSS.

Join the next live chat on Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 1:00 PM (ET) by searching and using the hashtag: #umainefar.

Follow a Researcher®: How Do Scientists Know What to Research?

May 8th, 2018 1:16 PM
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Follow a Researcher®

How Do Scientists Know What to Research?

Throughout our journey, we will be getting more familiar with the things that scientists and engineers do. Not only are these practices central to the life of a scientist but also to your own experiences in the science classroom and beyond. We’ll start by asking questions and defining problems.

Despite the various work settings of science, one thing is certain: no matter where science is happening, questions are trying to be answered. Tyler describes his team’s mission to study the connection between the European green crab (Carcinus maenas) and the “spiny-headed worm” parasite (Profilicollis botulus), but why did they choose to go to the coast of Maine and how do they know what to study?

Building on the Work of Others

Tyler didn’t know what questions he was trying to answer before he started. He did not wake up one day and say, “Hey! I’m going to move from Connecticut to Maine to study parasites!” Instead, his work is in response to the research of other scientists. Likewise, Tyler’s research will inform future studies. Scientists often get ideas from one another, which speaks to the importance of sharing information with other researchers so that someone else might pick up where the previous study left off.

In order to begin research, you need to figure out what interests you! Next, you’ll probably make observations and learn from the knowledge of others. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information is another practice that scientist engage in during their work. These were the steps that Tyler took by talking to others and reading science articles and research papers to develop the questions that still needed to be answered.

Investigating Crabs and Worms

As Tyler discussed in the video, the green crab is invasive to Maine, and many other areas. Additionally, the crab has been found to be infected with the spiny-headed worm parasite. This knowledge led Tyler to the following testable research questions he will be trying to answer:

  1. How many of these crabs are carrying the spiny-headed worm? How does this number change across bioregions or a five-year timescale?;
  2. Does the spiny-headed worm show up in different numbers across different subgroups of green crabs (size, age, sex, color, location, etc.)?;
  3. How can we make sure the information that we are gathering is accurate?

Tyler and his team are using these questions to help them decide what data they will need to collect and how to collect it.

What Do You Think?

Which part of this week’s episode did you find the most interesting?

  • What else would you want to know?
  • What questions would you need to ask to determine the future of green crabs?

Have More Questions?

Join Tyler and other classrooms in the next live Twitter chat on Thursday, May 10 at 1:00 PM (ET) using the hashtag: #umainefar.