During BIOL 120, I had the opportunity to create an experimental design with our groups and collect data over a few weeks. In this project, my group and I decided to measure the growth of Wisconsin fast plants under 3 different light sources. This was the first time doing a project in college where the students were able to create a (semi) original idea and present our findings. I enjoyed this lab experiment because it was also the first time I was able to experience firsthand how science doesn’t always go your way. It was evident from our experiment that one set of the plants did not grow at all and we had to figure out why and how this may have occurred in the experiment because all of the other plants grew under the other light sources. Even though the project was small and short, I thought it was a great way to introduce experimental design and be able to obtain results to draw conclusions from them!
After BIOL 120, I decided to take Developmental Biology (BIOL 360) for the cell and molecular pillar of biology requirements. During that class, I worked with peers at my table to create an experiment on a topic that impacts the development of an organism for our long-term project to present on research day, as a group, and write a final research paper on, individually. This project was a lot of fun to do because we got to go out into the town of Farmville to collect water samples. We used Daphina to detect polluted/ unclean waterways, specifically how it affected their heart rates over time. We created our own experimental design for this project and by collecting data over the course of a few weeks we eventually we able to understand the bigger picture from it. The conclusion that we came to from this experiment was that the different waterways throughout Farmville did not have an effect on the heart rate of the daphnia which was not expected based on our preliminary research on the topic.
As an upper-level elective, I took BIOL 301, Comprehensive A&P. During lab my partner and I created an experimental design for measuring bodily movements using the software, FreeMoCap. This software was brand new to the use of professor and I so it was an interesting learning curve for all of us. I was able to get hands-on experience using new coding techniques and computer software. Our original idea for this experiment was to measure muscle use when picking up various objects however, after the learning curve of using the software it was evident that with the knowledge we had of the software we were unable to complete that specific project, instead, we got a recommendation from our professor to turn our project into a methods poster. This allowed us to explore the software more in-depth and be able to modify our original experimental design to make it more beneficial to the public and future students and faculty that decide to use FreeMoCap. The main conclusion that we took from this experiment was using alternative software can be highly beneficial to quantify more specific body movements.
I am definitely able to see a difference in my abilities from freshman year to senior year in my abilities of experimental design and evaluating my data. I am able to see myself grow from simple lab experiments, such as measuring plant growth to complex software used to measure muscle use in humans!