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Understanding Fossil Butte

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1 Understanding Fossil Butte
In the southwest corner of Wyoming, there is a flat-topped mountain called Fossil Butte. A fossil of a fish was found near the top of the Fossil Butte in a rock formation that is about 50 million years old. Fossils of other kinds of fish, as well as turtles, have been found at Fossil Butte. The land around Fossil Butte is dry, and the Pacific Ocean is more than 1000km away. How could fossils of sea-dwelling animals have formed at Fossil Butte?

2 Understanding Fossil Butte
Working with a partner, think of several questions that a scientist might ask in order to understand why there are fish fossils in the desert of Wyoming. Write these questions on a sheet of paper. Discuss your questions with your partner, and suggest a possible answer to each question. How could a scientist go about fishing an answer to each of the questions? What other kinds of fossils have been found here? Is there evidence that a lake or inland sea existed in Wyoming at the time the fish lived here? Students ma not be able to suggest answers for all of their questions. Students may know that most fish fossils are formed in layers of mud and sand, which is evidence that the are was once under water. Scientists would have to dig to look for more fossils and catalog what is fond in the same layers with the fish. Geologists would have to map the fossil deposit and look for evidence of a lake shore or inland sea.

3 The Scientific Method & Parts of the Experiment
WHAT IS SCIENCE? The Scientific Method & Parts of the Experiment

4 GOALS OF SCIENCE Investigate and understand nature
Explain events in nature Use those explanations to make useful predictions

5 The Scientific Method There are FIVE main steps to the scientific method: Stating the Problem (from an observation) Forming a Hypothesis Setting up a controlled experiment Recording and analyzing the results Drawing conclusions

6 STATING THE PROBLEM This can be in the form of a question or statement. Implies that an observation has been made to lead to a question… Science is based on experimentation and observation Observations can be: Made directly with your senses Color Taste Shape Feel Smell

7 INFERENCES In contrast to observations, which are things that we see or measure, inferences are conclusions based solely on observation The only rule of inferring is to be logical They are always tentative, meaning, they are not final explanations Can be changed when new information is gained, or observations are made

8 FORMING A HYPOTHESIS A “testable” statement, a possible explanation that explains known facts and predicts new facts Should be in the form “If... then…” Cause and Effect Why? Or How?

Must have several things: VARIABLES Experimental Group(s) receives all of the conditions of the experiment Independent (manipulated) Variable – one thing that is changed Dependent (responding) Variable – measurable result of the independent variable Control Group receives all of the conditions of the experiment except one (the independent variable) used as a means for comparison in the experiment CONSTANTS (things that do not change) Factors in the experiment that are maintained throughout the experiment, they remain the SAME throughout PROCEDURE Must be clear and detailed

RECORDING DATA Numerical data should be graphed and/or tabled Observations should be written in clear, complete sentences. TWO TYPES OF DATA Qualitative – descriptive; a behavior or appearance Quantitative – numerical data Data Table Independent variable (unit) Dependent variable (unit)

Attempt to figure out what the collected data means… why did it happen as it did? Graph Title: Dependent variable vs. Independent variable Dependent variable (unit) Independent variable (unit)

12 Graphing Graph A visual display of information or data

13 Line Graph Shows how data changes over time or shows basic trends
Plotting data Independent variable = x-axis Dependent variable = y-axis

14 Bar Graph Compares information collected by counting groups
Plotted the same as a line graph

15 Pie Graph Shows how some fixed quantity is broken down into parts

16 FORM CONCLUSIONS Be sure to draw conclusions based on the data collected. Make inferences based on prior knowledge and the new knowledge gained in the experiment. DO NOT restate the procedure or simply restate the results… How do the results compare to your hypothesis? How can this data be used further? What other tests could be done?

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