ISR Nature of Science Test

You will have a test on the material covered thus far this semester in class.  This mostly includes the notes and associated readings or activities regarding the ‘nature of science’ and any associated terminology.  This test will NOT include the chapter 7 material from your STEM book.

Test: Wednesday, 2/18/15

Screening for Alzheimer’s Disease

On March 9, 2014, The-Scientist reported on a new screening test for Alzheimer’s disease.  According to the abstract of the study,

Herein, we describe our lipidomic approach to detecting preclinical Alzheimer’s disease in a group of cognitively normal older adults. We discovered and validated a set of ten lipids from peripheral blood that predicted phenoconversion to either amnestic mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease within a 2–3 year timeframe with over 90% accuracy. This biomarker panel, reflecting cell membrane integrity, may be sensitive to early neurodegeneration of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease.


Note the 90% accuracy claim of the test.  Now that we have looked at ways to measure a test’s value (i.e. sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NPV), you might wonder what a 90% accuracy means in the context of this study.  Others wondered the same thing and there are a few articles discussing this research finding in the context of medical screenings and being careful about the conclusions one should draw.

  1. Screen the Healthy? – read this page for a quick overview of the issue.
  2. How a “90% accurate” Alzheimer’s test can be wrong 92% of the time – see a good infographic here that visually displays the problem.
  3. On the hazards of significance testing. Part 1: the screening problem – finish by reading this page that shows the issue with screening via probability trees, Baye’s Rule, prevalence affects, and several examples.  An excellent summary of many of the issues we have discussed with screening tests.


Nature of Science and Attenborough Reading

  1. Read the following website regarding the ‘Nature of Science’
    2. Be sure to take notes and take the ‘quick quiz’ at the end of the reading.
  2. Read the Attenborough handout about Dinosaur National Monument and answer the questions regarding data, inferences and prior knowledge/beliefs.

Due: Thursday, 1/29/15

ISR 2014b Supercomputers Make Discoveries That Scientists Can’t

In light of our discussion about the pace of new data and knowledge, read the New Scientist article below and then comment (in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section below) on whether you think having computers search through data like this is a good thing or a bad thing and why.  In your post, you should also write one thing you think the idea behind this technology could be used for beyond the medical/health field.  What else could someone do with this type of analysis of data sets for good or evil?

You must also reply to at least one other post with a thoughtful comment on that person’s post.  For your posts, just put your first name, the first initial of your last name, and your email so I know you did it.

Supercomputers make discoveries that scientists can’t – tech – 27 August 2014 – New Scientist.

Due: Monday, 1/26/15 by 11:59:59pm

Remind Signup

To sign up for Remind via text or email you should follow these directions…

  1. You can go to and enter the class code (given in class), press enter, and then select text or email. -or-
  2. You can send a text message of your class code to 81010. -or-
  3. You can send an email to “classcode” – (no quotation marks and do not include the @ symbol that is part of the class code).  You do not need anything else in the email (subject or message).
  4. They also have apps for your phone if you would prefer the app.

You do not have to create any accounts or logins/passwords.  I will use this to send out quick reminders, quick updates, and quick links to cool stuff.  You will not see my phone number and I will not see yours.  You can not reply back to me from that text – it is outgoing from me to you only.  If you need to contact me, send me an email.  You can unsubscribe anytime by texting STOP.

**VERY IMPORTANT** – me not sending a reminder does not ever excuse you from remembering what and when things are due!!!  I am just doing this to try to help.

ISR Intro Homework 2014b

You should complete the following items for homework:

  1. Read the course syllabus located on my ISR website page.
  2. Save paper by electronically signing the syllabus by completing the Google Form located here (you must be logged into your Charter Google account to access the form).  The form requires both a student and parent signature.
  3. Read “The World Needs Thinkers” on the main page of my website (be sure to click the ‘read more’ link to get the whole article).  Write down 3-5 interesting facts you learn in the article and be prepared to discuss this information at our next class meeting.
  4. Obtain a check for $24 for your STEM Research book.  The check should be payable to The Charter School of Wilmington. (you can also bring cash)

Due: Friday, 1/23/15