[time-nuts] science projects
jimlux at earthlink.net
Fri Feb 10 00:09:20 UTC 2012
On 2/9/12 8:23 AM, Chris Albertson wrote:
> I think it's odd that all these "science" projects are NOT doing any
> science. They sound like engineering to me.
> So you build a neat mouse trap? That is not science unless you have a
> theory about mouse behavior and your trap is intended to test the
> theory. Around here we do have these projects but we call them
> "engineering" and they are judged by engineers.
It's the "international science and engineering fair", so both kinds
The line between applied science and engineering is pretty fuzzy.
Is a verification of theoretical coupling between pendulums a science
question or engineering question? What about developing a better model
to remove tidal effects on the pendulum? A lot of modern science is
coming up with ever more precise and descriptive models, particularly if
the model is not purely phenomenological, but is based on the underlying
But even for engineering, there has to be significant "scientific
method" applied. Research in the field to understand the state of the
art. Formulation of a design/plan, and the expected performance of the
device (aka "the hypothesis"), quantitative tests, etc.
Distinguish between "craftsmanship" and "engineering".. Even in the
engineering categories, a mouse trap wouldn't necessarily do very well
unless it there was something novel about it AND there were decent
predictions of performance ahead of time that could be tested by the
thing that gets built.
Lots of "I built a robot" kinds of projects that don't do well, even if
well constructed. "I built a robot that climbs trees using a technique
nobody has ever used before" would do better. "I built a robot that
climbs trees using a method that improves on how monkeys climb trees"
might do even better, depending.
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