The BIG splash

I was by the water yesterday, when out of the silence came a load ‘splash’.  I broke out my camera, and managed to capture the next one.

‘What caused this splash?’ Questions of curiosity lead somewhere, but often to unexpected places…

I’d like you to see if you can work out what caused the splash. I will ask you a few guiding questions, and provide more information on the way. Formulate a hypothesis, if you will, test, discard, reformulate and see how you fare against the evidence that follows.

Have you seen a splash quite like this before? If so, do you think you know what made the splash?

Was the splash made by an animate object (such as a frog or bird) or inanimate object (such as a stone thrown in the pond)?

To answer this question, look at the features of the water that are evident, and mentally list them. For example, consider features of the splash, such as apparent height, size of droplet, symmetry etc. Also consider other features of the water, including its undisturbed state, the zones under the splash and in front of the splash.

Now consider if each feature on your list may be more likely to be created by animate vs inanimate object, and decide which is more likely.

What is your working hypothesis? The next photo gives some more clues.

What type of animate object do you think this is?

Consider the apparent size and shape of the body part and what it is covered with (eg fur, feathers, carbon fibre, etc). Describe the shape of its bow wave, and its wake.

Now consider if each feature on your list may be more likely to be that of an invertebrate (eg squid), bird, fish, reptile, amphibian, mamma, or other animated object.

What is your current hypothesis? The next photo gives some more clues…

… but what IS that?

Look at the features of the apparent head and the back parts. Does this extra evidence fit your hypothesis? If so, does that mean you are correct? No, but you can continue to test against the emerging evidence. If not, then rehypothesise, or better, have several working, even competing hypotheses!

Have you also considered the habitat eg plant life, any features (eg ice, sandbanks, etc)?

What will the final photograph do for you?

Current hypothesis?

If you are from certain part of the world, your hypotheses may be quite different from those from other locales. For example, if you are from South America, you may be hypothesising ‘anaconda’. If you are from the arctic region, you may be saying ‘polar bear’. Of course exeriences, whether in the wild or with media, will also shape how you interpret this visual information.

By the way, did you ever ask yourself ‘where is this?’ or ‘what type of water system?’

Why not add your current hypothesis or hypotheses to the comments for this blog? Could be fun to see what people think!

Part 2 of the blog will give you further evidence to test your hypothesis against…

John W in New Jersey (a big hint) for the Council on Undergraduate Research Conference.

Author: johnwillison

Senior Leturer, Discipline of Higher Education, School of Education, University of Adelaide.

2 thoughts on “The BIG splash”

    1. You would almost think so by the shape o f the beast in the third photo! More to be revealed by the habitat photos to come.

      The sequence of waves are great!


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