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Scientific Method Case Study: Resolving a Lawn Problem

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Scientific Method Case Study: Resolving a Lawn Problem

Sharon Webster

University of Phoenix

September 11, 2006


Instructor: Harish Rekapally, MS

Scientific Method Case Study: Resolving a Lawn Problem


The scenario for this case study is that you notice that the grass around my house is brown, short, and dead. The grass around my neighbor's house is green, tall, and alive. Utilizing my understanding of the Scientific Method, my intent is to explain what the problem is to develop a hypothesis. After developing the hypothesis I will then design and perform an experiment to test my hypothesis; analyze my data and reach conclusions regarding my hypothesis. I will discuss various ideas regarding watering and fertilizing methods and the type of environment required that will help produce healthy growth in my yard.

The Scientific Method

Traditionally, there is a series of steps used by all scientists to study natural occurrences. Some problems lend themselves to solution by designing experiments; others are solved by detailed observation of processes or structures. The scientific method is an objective process that helps ensure accurate observation. Scientific Method is defined as a system (step by step process) of thought and procedure that reflects how scientists define and study a problem. (1)

There are several steps used in the Scientific Method:

1. Recognize a question or a problem. State the problem as a question.

2. Develop a hypothesis. A hypothesis is defined as a tentative proposition suggested as a solution to a problem; a statement of the researcher's expectations about the relationship among the variables of the study. Basically it is a prediction about what will happen.

3. Design and perform an experiment to test your hypothesis. Plan how you will test your hypothesis.

4. Analyze the data and reach conclusions about your hypothesis. Summarize your findings.

5. Share knowledge with the scientific community. (1)

The Problem (First Step)

The first step of the Scientific Method is to recognize a question or problem. The problem mentioned in the introduction of this paper is that you notice that the grass around my house is brown, short, and dead. My neighbor's grass is green, tall, and alive. The question is how can I make my grass alive and lush like my neighbor's? What are some of the factors that are affecting the growth of my lawn? What are some of the methods that my neighbor is using to have the type of growth to their lawn as opposed to my methods?

So, let's say you want a perfect lawn- one that looks like your neighbor's or a lawn that looks like a golf course- a nice green carpet surrounding your house. Is this possible? It is not only possible, it's really not that complicated, at least in most parts of the world. I know that my neighbor uses a different irrigation system and also has a gardener who maintains their lawn. I do not have the luxury of a gardener, therefore, I have to find my own solution to my problem with the help of some research and The Home Depot!

Like most plants, grass needs three things to thrive. It needs: sunlight, water, nutrients. Additionally, it needs to be largely free of destructive elements, namely: weeds, disease and bugs. If you have the right variety of grass for your area and you meet all these needs, a beautiful lawn should be a cinch. A few other factors to be considered are fertilizer, seeding, temperature and wild life. Choosing the right kind of grass for your yard is the first matter that should be addressed. (2)

The Hypotheses (Second Step)

Now that we have identified and addressed the problem, we can develop a hypothesis. The first matter to be addressed is whether or not we have chosen the right kind of grass for the yard. The most frequently selected grasses for desert lawns during the extreme hot weather are the many varieties of common and hybrid Bermuda grass. (3) There are other available choices including buffalo grass, zoysia, and St. Augustine. The grass in the yard at this time is buffalo grass. Now we need to take a look at the watering, fertilizing, and mowing which is recommended for buffalo grass. Buffalo grass likes the warm weather of the southwest desert but does not go into winter dormancy at elevations below 3,000 feet. Buffalo grass also requires less water than other grasses; however, if it runs out of water during the summer, it will enter drought-induced dormancy. Drought-induced dormancy simply means that it will turn brown in the summer just as it does in the winter. (3) The hypothesis is that the grass in my lawn runs out of water, therefore causing it to be short, brown, and basically dead.

Another hypothesis is that I may have poor soil. No amount of water or sunlight will make my lawn luscious and green if the soil is poor. The backbone to a grass plant is its root system. The roots soak up water, collect nutrients, anchor the plant and, in some species, spread out to new growth plants. A plant can only do these things effectively if the soil is right. The soil needs to be loose enough that the grass roots can spread easily, absorbent enough that it will collect water and rich enough that it can provide the plant with nutrients. Roots also need a certain amount of circulating air, which means the soil cannot be too compact. (2)

Testing My Hypothesis (Third Step)

Based on my first hypothesis, that the lawn is running out of water which in turn is causing it to turn brown, makes the grass short and the yard looks dead--the watering schedule has to be altered. More water needs to be supplied at a constant flow. The sprinkler system at the home should be re-set to supply water to the lawn every three days. To measure the water applies to the lawn; place at least five straight-sided #303 cans in various locations, at least four



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