A CIESE Collaborative Project

Frequently Asked Questions



1. Who do I send my data, letter of introduction, and final report to?

The data from your experiment should be submitted using the online data submittal form. This form is linked in the Project Data section of the web site. When you submit your data using the online form, there is a button at the bottom of the form that says "submit". When you click on this button a page will come up that displays the information as you entered it. Review your entries and if correct, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on "confirm" to confirm your submission. If you do not click on "confirm" your data will not be entered into the database.

Your letter of introduction and final report should be submitted to the online Discussion area which is linked in the left hand menu of the main web page.

If you have technical difficulties submitting your data, letter of introduction, or final report (e.g. security software that prevents you from submitting anything) you can send your data and letter to the Project Leader who will submit it for you.

2. I submitted my data to the project but I don't see it in the checked database. Why is that?

When you submit your data using the online form, there is a button at the bottom of the form that says "submit". When you click on this button a page will come up that displays the information as you entered it. Review your entries and if correct, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on "confirm" to confirm your submission. If you do not click on "confirm" your data will not be entered into the database.

If your data appeared to be questionable for any reason, the Project Leader would have attempted to get in touch with you via email. If the Project Leader never heard a response from you, she may have elected to not include your data in the database.

3. The instructions say that different classes may do the experiment. What do you mean by "class"?

A class is one section that you teach. For example, if you are a high school chemistry teacher you may teach 5 sections of chemistry. Each of those sections, or classes, can do the experiment and report their data as a class to the project database. On the other hand, if you are a 5th grade classroom teacher with one class that you teach all day long, your "class" is just that one. Other 5th grade teachers in your school could also do the experiment with their classes and report their results separately. If more than one class or section in a school reports data, please distinguish among the classes in the school name i.e. Kennedy Middle School - Period 7, Kennedy Middle School - Section 2, or Kennedy Middle School - Mrs. Smith's class.

4. In my class I would like to have my students work in lab groups (or independently) to perform the experiment. Can each lab group in my class (or individual students) submit data?

We would love to be able to accommodate individual students or lab groups but prior experience has shown that the data is easier to analyze when students average their results together and report one set of data per class. It also helps to offset any particular thermometer error when many students average their boiling points together. Also, if we let individual students submit data, the database would be very, very, long!

5. Why do all students in the same class have to use the same volume of water and same heating device?

It is important that all students in the same class to use the same volume of water for the experiment because averaging of many different volumes of water will not make it easy for students to see if there is a correlation between boiling point and volume of water. We're counting on the fact that different schools and classes will choose different volumes of water so students can compare their boiling points with a variety of volumes. It is also important that all students in the same class use the same heating device because there is no way to enter separate heating devices for all students or lab groups. Each class should use the same volume of water and same heating device for all three days of the experiment.

Different classes can use different volumes of water and different heating devices. For example, Chemistry Period 1 can use 500 mL of water and hot plates for each day of the experiment and Chemistry Period 2 can use 375 mL of water and bunsen burners for each day of the experiment.

6. Can I use bottled water, spring water, or tap water instead of distilled water for the experiment?

NO!! It is very important that you use distilled water and not tap or spring water. Depending on the minerals that are present in your tap or spring water, the boiling point could be off by as much as 2 or 3 degrees! Distilled water may also be labeled demineralized water and this is fine to use. In the U.S., many pharmacies and drug stores carry distilled water and it usually costs about $1/gallon.

7. How can I find my school's elevation?

If possible, try to find the exact elevation of your classroom. The school elevation might be on school blueprints or a local topographic map. If you find the school's ground elevation be sure to add on (or subtract) any additional elevation changes if you are on a different level. For example, if your classroom is on the 3rd floor of your school you would want to estimate the additional distance from the ground to your classroom and add this to the school's ground elevation. If you have access to a GPS unit, you can find the exact elevation of your classroom.

If your school elevation is not readily available, use the elevation for your city or town. You could try contacting your town hall to ask the town engineer or look at a local topographic map. Some online topographic maps can be found in the Reference Material page. Additionally, the elevations for some locations can be found using online databases. These links are on the Reference Material page (one of the easiest to use is the How Far Is It site). Most U.S. cities and towns have elevation data available in these online databases; some international cities are listed as well. Again, try to estimate any additional elevation change from your town's ground elevation to where your classroom may be located.

You might also want to take the opportunity to have a surveyor come in to talk to your class and have the surveyor find the elevation as well as explain to students how surveys are conducted.

8. Why do we need to calibrate our thermometers?

In order for students to compare their data, they must be certain that the measuring devices are all standardized. It can be misleading for students to see boiling points of 95 C and 105 C coming from classes doing the experiment under the same conditions. Please refer to the instructions for calibrating the thermometers .

9. What is the difference between the unchecked data and checked data?

The unchecked database reflects the results exactly as participants have entered them. As soon as you submit your results, they will automatically be available in this database. The project leader will periodically check this database and contact schools whose data appears to be in question. Only data that has been checked and verified by the project leader will be posted in the checked database. This is to ensure that when students analyze the data, they will not be mislead by any unreasonable, unverified, or incorrect data. The checked data will be available for viewing and downloading near the conclusion of the project. Please see the project schedule for details.

10. What if, due to time constraints, I can't wait for all the data to be submitted before my students begin their analysis and write their final report?

You are welcome to use data from previous runs of the project to do your analysis. You can view and download this data in the Past Projects section which is linked in the Teacher Area of the web site. When your students submit their final report, please make sure that they include in their report the fact that they used data from a different year or semester.

11. I can't participate in the current run of the project. Will it be run again in the future?

Yes, the project usually runs twice a year; in the fall and in the spring. The Fall run is usually mid September - December and the Spring run is usually March - May. You can check back on project web site periodically to see exact dates or subscribe to the CIESE listserv to receive updates about all of our projects.

12. How should students analyze the data?

Instructions for analyzing the data (as well as an example graph and chart) can be found in Project Instructions section of the web site (see step #6).