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Reasons for Anomalous Results
An anomalous result is one which does not fit the pattern.

Reasons for Anomalous Results

This Science quiz is called 'Reasons for Anomalous Results' and it has been written by teachers to help you if you are studying the subject at middle school. Playing educational quizzes is a fabulous way to learn if you are in the 6th, 7th or 8th grade - aged 11 to 14.

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Anomalous means something that doesn't fit the pattern. In these results - 5, 10, 15, 17, 25, 30 - 17 is an anomaly as it doesn't fit the pattern of going up in 5's. Identifying anomalous results and finding reasons for them is a crucial part of the evaluation of any experiment, not just investigations. If you can see no data that is anomalous, you should state that in your evaluation so that the person marking your work knows that you have considered it.

A chart of this type can reveal anomalous data.
Line graph
Pie chart
Scatter graph
Bar chart
A line of best fit will quickly show you any anomalous results
If scientists discover anomalous data, they will do this and take an average.
Repeat many times
Delete the bad data
Give up
Select a different experiment
Repeating the experiment many times and calculating the average can smooth out errors
A systematic error is due to...
the equipment used
random measurements
actual data
human error
Systematic errors lead to anomalous data which is repeated over and over again. This leads to data which can have a high precision but is inaccurate. The main problems can occur if you have to carry out your experiment over a period of several lessons as you may end up using different equipment each time. This will give different systematic errors for individual results
Zero error is when the equipment is not set to...
the maximum value
the minimum value
a known starting value
the endpoint
You don't necessarily need to set equipment to zero, although it does make things simpler
Which of these pieces of equipment needs to be set to zero before use?
Bunsen burner
Top pan balance
Air currents can affect a balance so make sure it has settled after zeroing and re-zero if necessary
If anomalous data is identified, the experiment can be repeated and this can be recalculated.
All parameters
You only need to repeat the experiment for the readings that were anomalous. If you do this, always include the value(s) of the anomalous data in the evaluation but not in your recalculations
Anomalous data is...
close to the mean value
not in agreement with the pattern
Anomalous data does not agree with the pattern of the rest of the data
Systematic errors can be identified by...
changing the experiment
doing a different experiment
changing the key variable
This is a high level skill - if you plan to calibrate equipment in your investigation it would impress the marker!
If data is inaccurate, we will do more...
Using different equipment can identify if the errors are systematic
Identifying these can lead to increased accuracy and reliability.
Most students will focus on human errors, higher level candidates will also try to suggest systematic errors too
Author:  Donna Maria Davidson

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