I see that this is your science project, so let’s
talk about how you could answer your question
Here’s how scientists, including you, would get
Phase 1: Find out what people already
know about your variables: caffeine and reaction
time. You might find some sources that tell you
about just one or the other. Those are useful too.
Phase 2: Think about how you will test
reaction time, your dependent variable. Think
about how you will control your independent
variable, caffeine consumption.
Here’s one way to test reaction time:
You might have another way in mind. You just need
to make sure that you will have something you can
measure objectively, meaning that two different
people will have the same answer. For example,
“fast” means different things to different people.
2 seconds means the same thing to everyone, and if
we are using the stopwatch correctly, we will get
the same answer.
WARNING! Any experiment that involves
people has to be safe and ethical. Scientists
have to go through a long process to get
permission for experiments that involve people or
other animals with a backbone. You will need
to get permission from your teacher. Your teacher
may decide that having people consume caffeine is
not a good idea. You might want to have a backup
plan. This happens to scientists all the time. We
want to do plan A, but don’t have enough money. We
think about doing plan B, but something doesn’t
work. Plan C would be cool, but we can’t get
permission. We figure out a plan D.
Successful scientists don’t quit. We find new
ways to solve problems.
You may want to go back to your research on
reaction time and see what other variables
influence reaction time and talk to your teacher
about what will work.
Think about any dangers or other problems you
might have in measuring your variables.
Phase 3: Write out your plan in so much
detail that another person could follow it without
you. You can use this later as the “Methods”
section in your poster or paper.
What will you do?
What will you measure?
You may want to make up a table of form for
recording your data.
Phase 4: Gather up your materials and
test subjects (people) and do your tests,
recording all of your results carefully.
Phase 5: Analyze your data.
Graphs can be very helpful.
You might want to figure out the averages for
different groups of people.
Phase 6: Report your data.
Let’s just focus on Phases 1 and 2 right now. Feel
free to check back for more help.