ACT Science : How to find experimental design in earth and space sciences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT Science

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Example Questions

Example Question #991 : Act Science

A group of scientists wanted to investigate weather patterns in four cities across the United States. They conducted a series of experiments to look for similarities and differences among the four cities. The scientists measured wind speed and direction, amount of precipitation, and percentage of cloud cover for one week. Further explanation can be found below.

Experiment 1

Scientists measured wind speed using an anemometer at fifteen different locations around each city. Measurements were taken at each location three times a day and then averaged to get a daily wind speed for each city. This was repeated every day for one week, and the results were compiled into Table 1.

Windspeed

Experiment 2 

Scientists set up barometers at five locations in each city. At the end of each day, the precipitation levels in the five barometers were averaged to find the average daily precipitation, and the results are compiled in Table 2.

Precip2

Experiment 3

For the final experiment, scientists placed upward-facing cameras atop the ten tallest buildings in each city. The cameras took one picture per hour. The scientists then used computer software to stitch together the images from all the cameras. The resulting meta-image was then analyzed with another computer program to find the percent of the sky covered by clouds. The results can be found in Table 3.

Ccp3

Which two cities had the most similar weather patterns?

Possible Answers:

Tallahassee, FL and Madison, WI

San Berdoo, CA and Tallahassee, FL

Madison, WI and San Berdoo, CA

Madison, WI and Kalamazoo, MI

San Berdoo, Ca and Kalamazoo, MI

Correct answer:

Madison, WI and Kalamazoo, MI

Explanation:

To answer this question, analyze the charts in all three experiments. San Berdoo is significantly drier, windier and sunnier than any of the other cities. Tallahassee is significantly wetter and cloudier than any of the others. This leaves Madison and Kalamazoo. Although they are not exactly the same, they are very close in all measurements.

Example Question #11 : How To Find Experimental Design In Earth And Space Sciences

A group of scientists wanted to investigate weather patterns in four cities across the United States. They conducted a series of experiments to look for similarities and differences among the four cities. The scientists measured wind speed and direction, amount of precipitation, and percentage of cloud cover for one week. Further explanation can be found below.

Experiment 1

Scientists measured wind speed using an anemometer at 15 different locations around each city. Measurements were taken at each location 3 times a day and then averaged to get a daily wind speed for each city. This was repeated every day for one week and the results were compiled into table 1.

Windspeed

Experiment 2

 

Scientists set up barometers at five locations in each city. At the end of each day, the precipitation levels in the five barometers were averaged to find the average daily precipitation and the results are compiled in Table 2.

Precip2

Experiment 3

For the final experiment, scientists placed upward facing cameras atop the ten tallest buildings in each city. The cameras took one picture per hour. The scientists then used computer software to stitch together the images from all the cameras. The resulting meta-image was then analyzed with another computer program to find the percent of the sky covered by clouds. The results can be found in table 3.

 

Ccp3

Suppose the scientists wanted to use this data to say that Tallahassee is always wetter than Kalamazoo. Which of the following would be a valid criticism of this line of thought?

Possible Answers:

The method used to measure precipitation is fundamentally flawed.

There is no valid criticism of this claim; it is a completely valid statement.

The data presented by these experiments shows that Tallahassee is always drier than Kalamazoo.

These experiments were performed in the wet season, so the data is skewed.

These experiments only examined these cities for 1 week, which isn't long enough to make such a sweeping claim.

Correct answer:

These experiments only examined these cities for 1 week, which isn't long enough to make such a sweeping claim.

Explanation:

When making statements about a place's climate, which involves long-term weather patterns, it is necessary to have data from over the course of a long time. In this case, we only have one week's worth of data. This is not nearly enough to make a bold extrapolation about the two cities' climates. So, "These experiments only examined these cities for one week, which isn't long enough to make such a sweeping claim" is our best choice.

The data never shows Kalamazoo being wetter than Tallahassee, nor does it even mention a "wet season." Measuring precipitation via a barometer is perfectly valid, and as explained above, there is a valid criticism to be made here.

Example Question #61 : Earth And Space Sciences

A group of scientists wanted to investigate weather patterns in four cities across the United States. They conducted a series of experiments to look for similarities and differences among the four cities. The scientists measured wind speed and direction, amount of precipitation, and percentage of cloud cover for one week. Further explanation can be found below.

Experiment 1

Scientists measured wind speed using an anemometer at fifteen different locations around each city. Measurements were taken at each location three times a day and then averaged to get a daily wind speed for each city. This was repeated every day for one week, and the results were compiled into Table 1.

Windspeed

Experiment 2 

Scientists set up barometers at five locations in each city. At the end of each day, the precipitation levels in the five barometers were averaged to find the average daily precipitation, and the results are compiled in Table 2.

Precip2

Experiment 3

For the final experiment, scientists placed upward-facing cameras atop the ten tallest buildings in each city. The cameras took one picture per hour. The scientists then used computer software to stitch together the images from all the cameras. The resulting meta-image was then analyzed with another computer program to find the percent of the sky covered by clouds. The results can be found in Table 3.

Ccp3

In which experiment was the greatest number of measurements taken?

Possible Answers:

Experiment 1 and 2 

Experiment 2 and 3

Experiment 2

Experiment 3

Experiment 1

Correct answer:

Experiment 3

Explanation:

To solve this question, read the description of each experiment carefully.

In Experiment 1, measurements were taken at fifteen locations three times per day in all four cities. This results in 315 measurements each day.

In Experiment 2, measurements were taken at five barometers in each of four cities, resulting in 20 measurements per day

In Experiment 3, measurements were taken at ten locations, twenty-four times a day, in four cities. This results in 960 measurements per day, making Experiment 3 easily the winner.

Example Question #62 : Earth And Space Sciences

A group of scientists wanted to investigate weather patterns in four cities across the United States. They conducted a series of experiments to look for similarities and differences among the four cities. The scientists measured wind speed and direction, amount of precipitation, and percentage of cloud cover for one week. Further explanation can be found below.

Experiment 1

Scientists measured wind speed using an anemometer at 15 different locations around each city. Measurements were taken at each location 3 times a day and then averaged to get a daily wind speed for each city. This was repeated every day for one week and the results were compiled into table 1.

Windspeed

Experiment 2

 

Scientists set up barometers at five locations in each city. At the end of each day, the precipitation levels in the five barometers were averaged to find the average daily precipitation and the results are compiled in Table 2.

Precip2

Experiment 3

For the final experiment, scientists placed upward facing cameras atop the ten tallest buildings in each city. The cameras took one picture per hour. The scientists then used computer software to stitch together the images from all the cameras. The resulting meta-image was then analyzed with another computer program to find the percent of the sky covered by clouds. The results can be found in table 3.

 

Ccp3

Which of the following is an assumption made by the scientists during the design of these experiments?

Possible Answers:

The scientists assumed that there would be wind in each city every day.

The scientists assumed there would be rain in each city every day.

The scientists assumed that cloud cover would not affect precipitation.

The scientists assumed that San Berdoo would receive less precipitation than Madison.

The scientists assumed that five barometers would be enough to get accurate data about precipitation.

Correct answer:

The scientists assumed that five barometers would be enough to get accurate data about precipitation.

Explanation:

The scientists only planned on measuring precipitation from five barometers per city. This means they must have assumed that five barometers would be enough to get an accurate impression of daily precipitation in each city. 

They did not assume there would be precipitation or wind in each city. In fact, San Berdoo had no precipitation on multiple days.

Example Question #11 : How To Find Experimental Design In Earth And Space Sciences

A group of scientists wanted to investigate weather patterns in four cities across the United States. They conducted a series of experiments to look for similarities and differences among the four cities. The scientists measured wind speed and direction, amount of precipitation, and percentage of cloud cover for one week. Further explanation can be found below.

Experiment 1

Scientists measured wind speed using an anemometer at 15 different locations around each city. Measurements were taken at each location 3 times a day and then averaged to get a daily wind speed for each city. This was repeated every day for one week and the results were compiled into table 1.

Windspeed

Experiment 2

 

Scientists set up barometers at five locations in each city. At the end of each day, the precipitation levels in the five barometers were averaged to find the average daily precipitation and the results are compiled in Table 2.

Precip2

Experiment 3

For the final experiment, scientists placed upward facing cameras atop the ten tallest buildings in each city. The cameras took one picture per hour. The scientists then used computer software to stitch together the images from all the cameras. The resulting meta-image was then analyzed with another computer program to find the percent of the sky covered by clouds. The results can be found in table 3.

 

Ccp3

Which of the following is supported by the data in Experiment 3?

Possible Answers:

Madison is sunnier than San Berdoo.

Tallahassee is wetter than Madison.

Madison is windier than Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo is cloudier than Tallahassee.

San Berdoo is sunnier than Kalamazoo.

Correct answer:

San Berdoo is sunnier than Kalamazoo.

Explanation:

After reading the question carefully, we see that we need to look at Experiment 3. Eliminate any options that don't deal with cloud cover. 

Then, we can see that in order of increasing cloud cover, we have: San Berdoo, Madison/Kalamazoo, and finally, Tallahassee. 

Thus, the only statement we can say is supported is that San Berdoo is sunnier than Kalamazoo.

Example Question #61 : Earth And Space Sciences

The above chemical equation describes the dissociation of carbonic acid  into bicarbonate  and hydrogen ion . A chemistry student wants to study the behavior of carbonic acid, as it is a part of one of the most important physiological control systems in the human body.

When carbon dioxide  enters the blood in your body, it takes on the form of carbonic acid. Carbonic acid is in what we call "equilibrium" with bicarbonate ion and hydrogen ion. This equilibrium functions in the following manner: if more carbonic acid is present, more will dissociate into bicarbonate and hydrogen ion. On the other hand, if there is more bicarbonate and/or hydrogen ion, we say that equilibrium as shown in the above equation will "shift left" and more carbonic acid will be produced from bicarbonate and hydrogen.

To study this effect, the student obtains a mixture of carbonic acid, bicarbonate, and hydrogen ion. Next, the student conducts trials in which she adds a certain amount of one of the chemicals one at a time and then measures how the concentrations of each chemical change after each addition.

Which statement best explains why it is important for the student to add each chemical one at a time before measuring the total concentrations and then adding a different chemical?

Possible Answers:

Adding one chemical at a time will allow for more accurate measurements of how much was added into the flask.

Adding one chemical at a time allows the student to isolate the effects of the change in concentration of one chemical.

Adding one chemical at a time ensures that no chemical reactions between carbonic acid and hydrogen ion will occur.

Adding one chemical at a time ensures that equilibrium will shift at every measurement.

Adding one chemical at a time has no significance to phenomenon under study.

Correct answer:

Adding one chemical at a time allows the student to isolate the effects of the change in concentration of one chemical.

Explanation:

The correct answer is that adding chemicals one at a time will isolate each chemical and the changes in concentrations of carbonic acid, bicarbonate, and hydrogen ion that it produces. This type of procedure would make it a lot easier to identify how and by how much the concentrations in the flask change upon inserting additional amounts of each chemical into the flask.

Example Question #61 : Earth And Space Sciences

Glaciers move, on average, 1 meter per day, although many are known to move faster or slower depending on their size. Whether they are alpine glaciers, which form high in the mountains, or continental glaciers that cover huge areas of land near the poles, glaciers are responsible for breaking up rock and moving sediment as they move across the land. 

Below is a chart of average speed of movement of an alpine glacier per year, as well the amount of sediment displaced by the glacier. 

Year

Average Glacial Movement

Sediment movement per year (tons)

1995

1.1 m/day

2.2

1996

1.3 m/day

2.6

1997

1.5 m/day

3.0

1998

1.3 m/day

2.2

2000

1.1 m/day

1.8

2005

1.0 m/day

1.6

2010

0.9 m/day

1.5

Two scientists have done research on an alpine lake that lies in the path of the glacier. Each took five samples of sediment from the lake.

Scientist 1 believes that the glacier is beginning to melt as it moves lower in elevation, releasing some of the sediment it has carried into mountain streams and springs, causing the makeup of sediments in the lake to change. He notes that the sediment from the lake bed contains brown chert, a rock that can only be found in elevations higher than that of the lake. Scientist 1 took his sample from the sediments that washed ashore on the beach of the lake.

Scientist 2 believes the glacier is not melting, but displacing rock beds so that the sediment loosens and breaks free of the bedrock and then is carried by wind and other erosive elements to the lake. He notes that the sediment from the lake bed contains only trace amounts of the brown chert, not enough to suggest the glacier is melting. Scientist 2 took his samples from sediment deposits at the bottom of the lake. 

Below is a chart of the sediment collection samples and the percentage of brown chert found in each.

Sample #

Scientist 1: % Brown Chert

Scientist 2: % Brown Chert

1

5.2

0.9

2

7.1

1.2

3

6.3

0.4

4

6.5

0.8

5

5.8

1.0

 

What could have caused the difference in percentages of brown chert found in the sediment collected by each scientist?

Possible Answers:

Coincidence

Faulty experimental design on the part of Scientist 2

The difference in the place from which the sediment was collected

The difference in the time when the sediment was collected

Faulty experimental design on the part of Scientist 1

Correct answer:

The difference in the place from which the sediment was collected

Explanation:

Scientist 1 collected data from the beach, Scientist 2 from the lake bed. This could most definitely account for the difference in the percentages of brown chert detected; furthermore, there is no indication time of collection was of consequence, nor that either scientist had a faulty experimental design. 

Example Question #12 : How To Find Experimental Design In Earth And Space Sciences

A scientist has observed a new planet, Planet H. It was discovered that Planet H has water on its surface. As a result, it is being investigated to determine if it is possible for Planet H to sustain human life. Futhermore, observations revealed that Planet H has four moons: Moon J, Moon K, Moon L, and Moon M. Each moon's radius, distance to Planet H, and time to orbit Planet H have been recorded in the provided table. 

Act 2

Before allowing humans to live on Planet H, what should scientists invesitigate further? 

Possible Answers:

The temperature of Planet H

Scientists should investigate all of the listed choices

The food sources of Planet H

The atmosphere of Planet H

It cannot be determined from the given information

Correct answer:

Scientists should investigate all of the listed choices

Explanation:

It is known that the water needed for humans to survive can be found on the surface of Planet H. It will be important to know if there is adequate food for humans to consume and survive. Additionally, if Planet H is too hot or too cold, humans cannot survive on Planet H, and allowing people to go there would not be a good idea. Finally, the atmosphere needs to be studied to determine the oxygen levels on Planet H that are necessary for humans to breathe. The correct answer is all of the choices need to be investigated by scientists because each is an important factor in determining if Planet H can sustain human life. 

Example Question #11 : How To Find Experimental Design In Earth And Space Sciences

In a specific region, a scientist recorded the rainfall, in inches, during the months of May, June, July and August. The scientist recorded this data in the same spot each month over four years. The purpose of this study was to see how the new factories built in the area impacted the rainfall in that location. 

Act 3

What improvements can be made to this experiment? 

Possible Answers:

Record the rainfall every other year rather than every year

Record the rainfall in other areas around the country

Test the pH of the rainfall

All of these

Correct answer:

Test the pH of the rainfall

Explanation:

Recording rainfall in other areas of the country will not help the scientist with her ultimate goal of seeing how factories impact rainfall. Recording the rainfall per a week instead of per a month will not give any major benefits to the experiment as the scientist will probably look at annual rainfall for the recorded months. 

Factories can increase pollution in the environment which may lead to more acidic rain that could impact the enivronment. Therefore measuring the pH of the rainfall would be a beneficial addition to the experiment. 

Example Question #11 : How To Find Experimental Design In Earth And Space Sciences

One night there was a meteor shower and scientists in four different regions, A, B, C and D, observed and counted the number of meteors seen. The scientists noted the duration of the meteor shower and the visibility of the stars. 

Act 2

What is a way that the scientists could improve their method of observation? 

Possible Answers:

Note the elevation of each observation location

Note if the observations were taken by the naked eye or by an automated telescope

Determine the light pollution in each region and how this impacts results

Note the weather and the potential impact this had on their observations

All of these

Correct answer:

All of these

Explanation:

The weather in a region could impact the results if it were cloudy or if it was clearly would change visibility. Knowing the weather would improve the results of this experiments validity. Using an automated telescope would prevent human error that could occur in observations made by the naked eye. Light pollution affects the visibility of the night sky. Also, noting the elevation of the locations may affect visibility of meteors. Knowing this information will inform one how the light pollution affects the results of the observation.

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