The Scientific Method/Controlled Experiment Paper:

CHM 1025C Bishop Chapter 1: section 1.3 Page 7


Scientific Observations Assignment: During a CHM 1025C?CHM 1032C Lab Period, the students will watch the following Hollywood movie and write a minimum two page double spaced word processed paper due after Thanksgiving holiday during a Fall Term or after Spring Break during a Spring Term. Students may check this movie out from the FSCJ FCCJ Library, Public Library or even purchase the video. You may take your notes on this handout and not use your lab notebook to take notes for this work.


  1. To understand or distinguish between and apply the words: science, scientific law, scientific method, scientific model, theory, experiment, controlled experiment, and hypothesis.
  2. To gain experience in recording and explaining experimental observations through a Hollywood movie of novel.
  3. To observe the scientific method in action by “Hollywood Scientists” in the movie.
  4. To recognize that the human body needs to be sterilized before working in a sterile lab or otherwise the human needs to wear a clean suit with a self contained breathing apparatus so as to not contaminate the environment.
  5. To understand pH, acidosis, and alkalosis

Movie Film: Andromeda Strain – 1971

Editorial Review:
The best-selling novel by Michael Crichton was faithfully adapted for this taut 1971 thriller, about a team of scientists racing against time to destroy a deadly alien virus that threatens to wipe out life on Earth. As usual with any Crichton-based movie, the emphasis is on an exciting clash between nature and science, beginning when virologists discover the outer-space virus in a tiny town full of corpses. Projecting total contamination, the scientists isolate the deadly strain in a massive, high-tech underground lab facility, which is rigged for nuclear destruction if the virus is not successfully controlled.
The movie spends a great deal of time covering the scientific procedures of the high-pressure investigation, and the rising tensions between scientists who have been forced to work in claustrophobic conditions.

It's all very fascinating if you're interested in scientific method and technological advances, although the film is obviously dated in many of its details. It's more effective as a thriller in which tension is derived not only from the deadly threat of the virus, but from the escalating fear and anxiety among the small group of people who've been assigned to save the human race. The basic premise is still captivating; it's easy to see how this became the foundation of Crichton's science-thriller empire. --Jeff Shannon


Purchase from  New $9.99

                                     A  Scientific Method Flow Chart





Chemistry is the branch of science that studies matter and the changes matter undergoes. Science can be defined simply as organized knowledge. Scientific knowledge is gathered systematically by performing thoughtful experiments, carefully recording observations, and ultimately drawing some conclusions. This procedure is known as the Scientific Method and it involves three possibly new vocabulary words:


  1. Experiment – collecting data by observation of chemical changes under controlled conditions.
  2. Hypothesis – formulating a tentative proposal to correlate and explain the experimental data.
  3. Theory – stating a formal theory or scientific law after extensive testing of the hypothesis.


A hypothesis is frequently proven invalid although not always immediately. Historically, chemists and physicists have been slow to abandon an acceptable theory in order to adopt a new one. Scientists exercise caution in drawing conclusions, knowing that nature reveals itself in glimpses and at times appears contradictory. Hypotheses may be discarded, modified, or on a rare occasion, after rigorous testing, be elevated to the status of a scientific law or theory.

Background from Chapter 1(Bishop, Corwin& Hein texts):

1. CHM 1025C:  On pages 1-3 of the Corwin textbook there are listed three steps in the scientific method. On Pages 5 & 6 of the Hein textbook there are four steps listed. On pages 7-9 of the Bishop text, the author demonstrates in interest cycle

The former CHM 1025C book, Corwin,  has three steps, similar to above:


Step 1: Performed a planned experiment, make observations, and record data.


Step 2: Analyze the data and propose a tentative hypothesis to explain the experimental observations.


Step 3: Conduct additional experiments to test the hypothesis. If the evidence supports the initial proposal, the hypothesis may become a theory.


Maybe a little better graphic of the scientific flow chart shown in Figure 1.3 page 2 would be the following from a science web site for kids:




2. Section 1.3 covers the scientific method in the Hill text for CHM 1020.


The Hill text has five characteristic of science, which are that it is:

a. testable,

b. reproducible,

c. explanatory, and

d. predictive, but always

e. tentative


They have the following graphic:

Hill: Chemistry for a Changing Time:      The new version of The andromeda Strain

On Page 4 is the following flow chart


A&E’s Remake 3 hours and 20 minutes):

The Andromeda Strain Miniseries (2008) Starring: Benjamin Bratt, Eric McCormack Director: Mikael Salomon Rating:   


The Project: The Hollywood Film Assignment:

  Your assignment is to watch the original 1971 film partially during class time, then at home, or at an additional on campus time. Note the problem which threatened life on earth, and setoff a "wildfire" protocol. Note how did the scientists approach the "Wildfire" problem and note all the steps and procedures used in the experimental controls that help eliminate the various variables from their investigation, then explain how they went about trying to solve the problem to come up with a solution. Finally you need to explain the solution, and the chemistry behind it, which is discussed in Chapter 15 of the Hein text, Chapter 7 of the Hill text and Chapter 16 in the Corwin text.

However, if you have already watched this movie and written a similar paper, a more involved and interesting project would be to write a better pager using one of the following two options:

Optional/Alternate Paper: The Andromeda Strain Book

The Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain (Paperback)

by Michael Crichton (Author)

An option for those who have watched this movie is to read the book and write a paper comparing the original book with the original movie. Some folks are always talking how the book and the movie do not compare, so here’s you chance to compare and editorialize.




Optional/Alternate Paper: The New Andromeda Strain Movie

The student will watch this new version and include a page to compare the old to the new, and how the science of the solution is different. The student will conclude with her/his editorial comparing the movies.

The Andromeda Strain Miniseries (2008)

Starring: Benjamin Bratt, Eric McCormack Director: Mikael Salomon Rating

Product Description
Based on the best-selling novel by Michael Crichton, the A&E mini-series event The Andromeda Strain arrives on DVD in this special 2-disc collection! Two-time Academy Award nominee Mikael Salomon (Band of Brothers) directs a powerhouse cast, including Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order), Christa Miller (Scrubs), Eric McCormack (Will & Grace), Ricky Schroder (NYPD Blue), Andre Braugher (City of Angels), Viola Davis (Disturbia), and Daniel Dae Kim (Lost) in this thrilling sci-fi adventure. When a mysterious virus is brought to earth by a returning satellite, an elite and dedicated squad of scientists assembles to search for the truth and stop the mutating killer before it ends life on earth. Presented by three-time Academy Award nominee Ridley Scott (American Gangster) and Primetime Emmy Award winner Tony Scott (Numb3rs), The Andromeda Strain includes all 4 televised hours, contains exclusive bonus materials and features Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. Own the action-packed epic today!


The scientific method consists of:

  1. Observation of an odd, unusual, interesting event.
  2. Developing a hypothesis, a tentative proposal of a scientific principle to explain the observation.
  3. Developing a plan for making observations under CONTROLLED conditions, conducting a planned experiment.
  4. 4. Refining the hypothesis after analysis of collected experimental data.
  5. Test refined hypothesis with additional experimentation or altered experimentation.
  6. If sufficient evidence is gathered by repeated experimentation, the hypothesis, if of a measurable mathematical relationship becomes a natural law. Otherwise itr remains a hypothesis.
  7. A theory is proposed to explain in a broad sense a collection of natural laws and hypothesis. The theory gives the best explanation at that point for a grouping of natural laws and hypothesis


Theories are seldom finished and are generally refined to a higher level of confidence as new data and better observation tools are developed. As an example the Greeks developed the first atomic theory and John Dalton refined the theory as a hypothesis which has continued to be refined into the current state of modern atomic theory. The scientific method is never a finished process but one that is continuously improving the explanation of nature’s behavior as methods and instruments improve.

Movie Film - Andromeda Strain Film Notes:

Step 1: The Question must be defined:

"You don't understand a phenomenon which has occurred"

In your two page paper to be handed in during the week at the end of Module 11, you should define the question in your first or second paragraph. What happened in the film to setup a major problem?

Film Notes:












Step 2: How did the government/scientists respond to the question

using the code word “fire” and  "Wildfire" in your third paragraph.

Film Notes:









Step 3: After the team was assembled, they entered a facility to investigate the problem. Describe as many controls the facility had to eliminate the variables which would contaminate the problem solving process. This could be a couple of paragraphs.

Film Notes:


What was the odd-man hypothesis?










Step 4: Once in the facility, the team met and decided an approach to solve the problem. They decided on three paths that had to be taken to define the problem before they could come up with a solution and split the team in three parts. In your next paragraph(s) describe the three approaches to defining the problem.

Film Notes:










Step 5: Describe in your next paragraphs what testing the various teams did to isolate the problem to find the solution.

Film Notes:







Of course this is Hollywood, and a last minute replacement scientist had a medical problem which interfered in the lab testing, what was this medical problem and what happened.

Film Notes:









Also, the unit was out of communication with the world outside, because of another problem. What was that problem?

Early Film Note:







The President of the United States was supposed to execute an order right after a biological contamination event occurs. What was the name of this order and what was suppose to happen when a "wildfire" occurs in this country.

Film Notes:







The President delayed that order for 24-48 hours after the initial event at the protests of the scientists. What comment could you make about this dilemma and his delay tactics.









Also there were two survivors of this Wildfire, a crying baby and the town drunk, while everyone else dies. Were all the others killed instantly and did this give the scientists another clue to their mystery?

Early Film Note:

Step 6: What hypothesis did they finally conclude?

Film Notes:







Since you are a chemistry student, please explain the solution which deals with pH and explains the why two survivors lived. Read sections 15.7 and 15.8 about pH. Then research body acidosis and alkalosis in the relation to the blood pH. What is normal for the humans? Where the survivors normal?
Please include a couple of paragraphs explaining these principles of pH as applied to the body.



















Step 7: Your summary, conclusions or comment should be your final paragraph including the value or no value learned from this exercise.


Also you could include in your comments suggestions for better controls or things that just didn't make sense in their scientific process in the film. I can think of two or three.

I hope all of you who chose to watch the film enjoy this exercise.


Final Comments/notes