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Failed experiment advice?

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Hey guys,

   I pretty much failed my experiment and have nothing to write about. I essentially tested the effect of different salt water solution concentrations on the growth of radish seeds. Unknowingly, I made the concentrations waaay too high (1%, 2%, 3%, 4%.. seriously, I made it more salty than ocean water  :eek: ) and all of my seeds, except my control, failed to germinate. In the past I've had experiments that have sorta failed and it's actually made it easier to write the conclusion, but this time I feel like it's not even possible to write up anything from this lab.

 

   I don't have time to redo this experiment or attempt another one as this experiment is actually my back up experiment that I had to do after my first one also failed (I blame my lack of a green thumb). Any suggestions/advice? My classmates suggest I make up results, which seems very tempting, but hopefully somebody on here has some better advice!

Thanks! 

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Are we talking IA or EE? Messing up an IA is recoverable - it encourages you to point out mistakes. Obviously, a good experiment with limitations is better, but I'd first change your design to match the data you did collect before I would make data up. My teacher says that he always spots the ones that are made up and showed us examples. It is simple if you know what you're looking for.

 

If this is an EE, you need to do a new experiment. From what I've heard, the EE people, whether or not they're supposed to, are looking for successful experiments. Do it again, or do a new experiment, if this is an EE, or else you will do badly (you might still pass. I guess that might be more important, but I doubt you'll get any bonus points).

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The main problem you have is that whilst it's fine to have failed experiments, you're also expected to have looked a bit into the scientific background before you do your experiment and often people will do some preliminary ones as well. Basically it should really have been obvious to you that the salt level was way too high if you'd read anything much at all about it before hand when designing the experiment, and you might lose marks just for having a very poor level of research before starting your experiments. It's a key part of experimental design and shows you have a better scientific understanding of what you're doing.

 

You should have the opportunity to do other IAs so if I were you I would ditch this one (i.e. accept it's probably not going to be the winner you send off!) and plan one for the future. Do something with enzymes or something - you can do that all in one sitting, it's immediate and doesn't require growing anything! For this one it's probably better to write it up with your actual results rather than fabricate something. It's never good to lie, especially when you're making things up blindly. And in future, remember that IAs where you have to design part of it - you need to do some background reading as part of your design! Doing a preliminary 'test' experiment is also a great idea and looks really good in your write-up. You can use these tests to find a range over which you want to alter your main variable and I suggest you do that for whatever your next one happens to be :)

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