Was Aristotle Right or Wrong?

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Was Aristotle Right or Wrong?
Jennifer L. Chadwick
Grand Canyon University
Biology Concepts Lab
June 1, 2011

Resource 1: Was Aristotle Right or Wrong?

The exercise below presents a scenario that begins with an observation made by Aristotle (4th century BC). The theory of Spontaneous Generation, which suggests that life originated from inanimate matter, was popular in the ancient world. Your assignment is to apply the scientific method beginning with Aristotle’s observation by answering the questions in this document.

You will need to develop the following:
• Observation/Question
• Hypothesis
• Prediction
• Experimental Design (including hypothetical data)
• Conclusion

(Note: The process of the Scientific Method is outlined well in the lecture found at Classroom>Canyon Connect>Module 1 Readings>. You can also find the process of the Scientific Method in Chapter 1 of your textbook as well as at the References listed at the end of this document.

NOTE: For better understanding of the scientific process and successful completion of this assignment, to is very important that you review Module 1 Readings and the rest of the resources mentioned above before completing this assignment.

Please respond to the questions in bold. All your responses to this assignment should be based on the information given on “Was Aristotle Right or Wrong?”

Imagine that you live in the 4th century BC. You and Aristotle (your friend and companion of many years) are talking about the many wonders of the universe when your friend makes the following observation:

“So with animals, some spring from parent animals according to their kind, whilst others grow spontaneously and not from kindred stock; and of these instances of spontaneous generation some come from putrefying earth or vegetable matter, as is the case with a number of insects….” (Wilkins, 2004, para. 12)

Well, you think to yourself, Aristotle is a really good friend and an equally great guy, but you aren’t so sure about this Spontaneous generation thing. Just because he observed insects arising from spoiled vegetables doesn’t mean that these bugs just appeared out of the blue. Insects don't just spontaneously arise from spoiled vegetables or, do they?

You decide to do a little research of your own by following the steps of the Scientific Method.

I. Observation/Question
This is a simple statement describing what you observed and an accompanying question concerning “why” you observed it.

Aristotle saw insects coming from the insides of spoiled vegetables. Do spoiled vegetables really give life to insects?

II. Hypothesis
A hypothesis is a tentative answer to the question posed in Part I above – a reason for what is being observed. An explanation is made for the process behind the observation. In other words, what might have caused what was observed? If ____________, then __________.

If vegetables are covered then no insects will hatch.

III. Prediction
This is more specific than your hypothesis. What do you predict will happen in your experiment? Your prediction will include a statement concerning the predicted affect of your independent variable.

By changing the environment that the vegetables are stored in and also the climate but keeping the vegetables covered the vegetables will not produce insects.

IV. Experimental Design
Design an experiment as a tool to find out if your prediction is right or wrong. Remember that good experiments do not set out to prove that a hypothesis is correct, but to test whether or not it is wrong.

Four bunches of carrots, open basket, Tupperware container, and cellophane. The control group bunch left on a plate, uncovered on the counter. One test group outside in a basket, one test group in the refrigerator in cellophane and one test group in Tupperware on a shelf inside a kitchen cupboard. Never open or unwrap the containers the carrots are in, just...
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