• Question: What was the worst experiment that you have done.

    Asked by aweaver9 to Cassie, Greg, Karen, Sofia, Tommy on 7 Nov 2013.
    • Photo: Thomas Doherty-Bone

      Thomas Doherty-Bone answered on 7 Nov 2013:

      For me, a bad experiment is one that does not include an appropriate control or does not make sure the treatments are what they say they are (one that comes to mind is an experiment that was measuring effects of pesticide on frogs, but the frogs in the tanks kept moving between the treatments, so could not work out what was what). Basically, a study that does not gain any information.

      There might be studies that have been difficult or tedious to set up, but if the science is good, if the control and treatments have been properly set up, that is a good experiment and the results are worth it.

      So have I done that? Not sure. I tend to learn from mistakes and value the opportunity to make them. Of course I would like to get things right the first time, but then I like to push boundaries too to see what will happen.

      Some projects I have worked on, I might not have been as interested as other projects, but that does not mean there is anything wrong with the study.

    • Photo: Cassandra Raby

      Cassandra Raby answered on 9 Nov 2013:

      Well, I agree with Tom that doing an experiment can take a lot of thought, so you usually do your best to make it a good experiment before you’ve even started.

      But sometimes I still manage to get worried when I’m doing experiments! Once when I was working in a lab I have to use a lot chemicals that were quite dangerous! Now, as a scientist you get trained about how to deal with these things and make sure you are safe. But I was putting one of these chemicals into some tubes when I started to hear a hissing noise! I didn’t know what was happening, and the hissing noise kept happening! And then I realised that the chemical melts plastic… and the drops were melting the plastic that was holding the tubes in!

    • Photo: Sofia Franco

      Sofia Franco answered on 12 Nov 2013:

      The worst experiments are the ones that you think you have thought of everything, but you did not! We are scientists but we are far from knowing everything 🙂 There might always be something that you might forget or not consider, and then this can affect how good your results are or if the experiment works! This has happened to us a few times (let’s admit it!), but the good thing about science and experiments is that most of them can be repeated and you can improve what you have done wrong!

      Once we were working with animals that glue themselves to the body of others, while babies, we were waiting and waiting for them to get glued on….and it was never happening…”why? we had read that they would get glued to the body of the others in scientific journals, why not in here?”….after many hours cracking our brains and looking under the microscopes we realised our mistake when we looked by accident closely to another aquarium…there we a lot of little animals glued, but not in the body…they were all in the “heads” of the others! Who would have thought of this? We had just been allowing the animals to set on the body, when what they wanted was the “head”, but no-one had ever observed it before! Anyway, you always feel pretty stupid when you miss something 🙂 but you can definitely learn from it!

    • Photo: Karen Bacon

      Karen Bacon answered on 12 Nov 2013:

      I’ve done experiments where things have gone wrong or just haven’t worked but that’s all part of being a scientist. It’s only a bad experiment if you don’t learn from your mistakes!