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  Investigating Increases in Conductivity

Are Culverts the Culprits? An Ice Lake Mystery

In the first weeks of July 1998, the conductivity data for the all levels of Ice Lake showed a surprising increase. Local officials were quite concerned about the increase. They knew, and have explained to you, that in the weeks before the conductivity increase, city workers flushed the storm sewers and culverts. They want to know if the culvert flushing caused the problem. As a Water Resources Specialist you need to research the temporary increase in conductivity and create a report explaining your interpretation of what happened. Keep in mind that the increase might be the result of natural changes or human activity, or it might be a technical problem with the sensor or data transmission from the Remote Underwater Sampling Station (RUSS).

Knowledge Base
Begin by reviewing the factors that affect conductivity. Useful information is available on the WOW Web site and additional information can be found on the Internet. You will need to refer to your list of potential influential factors during your investigation. Some factors will require close investigation; others can be eliminated if they do not relate to this incident.

Experimental Design
Prepare an experimental plan for your investigation. Consider the data you have available to collect and analyze. Think also about how to present your results. (Hint: It may be helpful to prepare a standard curve for conductivity using salt concentrations in water.)

Data Collection
Follow your plan for data collection. Be sure to write out your methods and sources and create accurate tables.

Data Management and Analysis
Graph and analyze the data you collected. Are there any reasons for suspecting that some of your data are not accurate?

Interpretation of Results
Does your data eliminate any possible causes for the increased conductivity? Does it point to a possible culprit? What are your conclusions about the causes for the increased conductivity? Can you prove it? If you cannot prove your hypothesis at this point, what further research might help you examine your hypothesis?

Reporting Results
Use your research to prepare an oral report, written paper, multi-media presentation, or scientific poster. Your report needs to provide enough detail on your methods and analysis that your study could be replicated by another scientist. Be prepared to answer the questions of your colleagues (classmates) and your supervisor (teacher).

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date last updated: Friday December 04 2009