CHM 1020 Section 1.3 pages 3-5

The Scientific Method Controlled Experiment Paper:

Movie Film: Andromeda Strain – 1971

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…….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………


Background from Chapter 1(Corwin& Hein texts):

1. On pages 4-5 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 list.

However, I have in my office an extra handout on the scientific method in addition to the text: "A Scientific Mystery-Solving Strategy" includes four steps in solving a scientific mystery: Question, Hypothesis, Testing, and Evaluation. You may ask for it if you do need more information than the textbook.

2. I also have in my office a two page handout, Scientific Method where seven steps are listed which began with:
  A. Observation of an odd, unusual, or interesting event….

      Scientists use these step to investigate problems and find solutions.

     FCCJ is host to the Northeast Florida Region Science Fair for the k-12 schools. Last year I was at LSUA in Louisiana.  A nice review of the scientific method may be found on the LSUA site at:

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


The Project: The Hollywood Film Assignment:

  Your assignment is to watch the 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 11 of the Physical Science text, Chapter 15 of the Hein text, Chapter 7 of the Hill text and Chapter 16 in the Corwin text.

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 "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