CHM 1020 Project #1:

The Scientific Method: Analysis of the Andromeda Strain Movie:

Chapter 1 Conceptual Chemistry  5th Edition by John Suchocki


Scientific Observations Assignment:

Our syllabus includes the FSCJ CHM 1020 Nine Section Learning Outcomes & Assessments.
Section #6 of this district course outline model has the following:

Outcome  #3.  Demonstrate knowledge of Scientific Method by
   a. Formulate problem,
   b. Make observations,
         1.Derive and test hypothesis and
         2. Make conclusions.

Each science course at FSCJ is required to include and test this learning outcome with an artifact.

The district science council has defined that all science classes at FSCJ will accomplish this outcome via one of two methods:

  1. Analyze an experiment that demonstrates the use of the scientific method
  2. Analyze an article in a scientific journal where the scientific method is used

So instead of performing an experiment in the laboratory or looking at an article for this course we will watch
an old Sci-fi Hollywood movie (Project #1) and watch a video performed by the instructor (Project #245)
which demonstrates the scientific method in use.

The film (The Andromeda Strain) may be boring today by today standards as it is not an action thriller and spends too much time on the scientific method.


1. To understand or distinguish between and apply the words: science, scientific law, scientific method,
   scientific model, theory, experiment, controlled experiment,
and hypothesis.

 2. To gain experience in recording and explaining experimental observations through a Hollywood movie of novel
and/or through an instructor demonstration.

3. To observe the scientific method in action by “Hollywood Scientists” in the movie in 1971.

 4. To recognize that the human body needs to be sterilized before working in a sterile lab or otherwise, the human needs to wear a clean suit with a self contained breathing apparatus so as to not contaminate the environment.

 5. To understand pH, and the difference between acidic, acidosis, basic (Alkaline) and alkalosis

 A hypothesis is frequently proven invalid although not always immediately. Historically, chemists and physicists have been slow to abandon an acceptable theory in order to adopt a new one. Scientists exercise caution in drawing conclusions, knowing that nature reveals itself in glimpses and at times appears contradictory. Hypotheses may be discarded, modified, or on a rare occasion, after rigorous testing, be elevated to the status of a scientific law or theory


Project #1: Scientific Method via Andromeda Strain Movie

1. Read Chapter 1 Section 1.1 of the textbook & Watch John Suchocki's Video:
The Scientific Approach:


2. Read Chapter 1 Section 1.4 of the textbook & Watch John Suchocki's four videos #CO104a, especially #2: Fact, Hypothesis, Law, and Theory


Video#1: Skepticism and Denialism (5:31)

Video#2: Fact, Hypothesis, Law, and Theory (4:04)

Video#3: The Age of Explosion -- Part 1 (5:22)

Video#4: The Age of Explosion -- Part 2 (5:22)



2. Watch the Hollywood 1971 movie which spends too much time on the scientific method. You may purchase or rent the video from Amazon, check the DVD out of the North Campus Library, watch the movie through the professor's web site in Canvas (when posted this term).

Purchase / Rent DVD from Amazon:

See the film review below.

Trailer (3:26):

Movie Film: Andromeda Strain – 1971   Play official: The Andromeda Strain (1971) Trailer (1:59)

Editorial Review:
The best-selling
novel by Michael Crichton was faithfully adapted for this taut 1971 thriller, about a team of scientists racing against time to destroy a deadly alien virus that threatens to wipe out life on Earth. As usual with any Crichton-based movie, the emphasis is on an exciting clash between nature and science, beginning when virologists discover the outer-space virus in a tiny town full of corpses. Projecting total contamination, the scientists isolate the deadly strain in a massive, high-tech underground lab facility, which is rigged for nuclear destruction if the virus is not successfully controlled.

The movie spends a great deal of time covering the scientific procedures of the high-pressure investigation, and the rising tensions between scientists who have been forced to work in claustrophobic conditions

It's all very fascinating if you're interested in scientific method and technological advances, although the film is obviously dated in many of its details. It's more effective as a thriller in which tension is derived not only from the deadly threat of the virus, but from the escalating fear and anxiety among the small group of people who've been assigned to save the human race. The basic premise is still captivating; it's easy to see how this became the foundation of Crichton's science-thriller empire. --Jeff Shannon


                            Some Andromeda Strain Clips

The Andromeda Strain (1971) VIRUS EXPLORED

Andromeda Strain (1971) - WIldfire Intro (4:47)

 Project #1 counts 40 total points:
20 points for watching and taking notes during the 2:08 movie and
10 points for completing the required district question form and
10 points for writing an analysis of the film (minimum 1 to 3 (or more) double spaced word processed pages including:

  1. Define the Problem
  2. Describe the procedures used to allow the scientists access to the facility call ‘Wildfire”
  3. Describe examples of the use of the scientific method through experimentation
  4. Describe the chemistry principles discovered to solve the problem.(Section 10.3 Chapter 10)
  5. Your conclusion/comments/summary of chemical principles

Students may also check this movie out from the FSCJ Library or the Public Library.

 3. You may take your notes on the separate handout and submit this form or you may submit your personal notes.

Online links to Note form:

Or Download Note WORD Document:

 4. Complete & Submit Quantitative Reason Form

Or Download WORD Document:


View Online:
Quantative Reason Grading Rubric for grading the Outcomes Questionable


5. Write a one page summary/conclusion/comment Essay and submit as a separate document.
      a. Read Sections 10.2 & 10.3 about pH.
      b. Explain in your paper the concept of  pH, especially pH of blood and the conditions of acidosis and alkalosis and how they differ from acidic and basic solutions.
      c. Read Section 10.5 about Blood and Cell buffers.
      d. Show the
equilibrium reactions of  #1 & #2:
Blood Buffer (extracellular fluid):  Bicarbonate Buffer System [CO2/HCO31-]
Cellular Buffer:  Phosphate Buffer System  [H2PO41- / HPO42-]
protein buffer system: Hemoglobin in the blood acts as a buffer

Introduction to buffer systems, which regulate pH in blood. ...

Play YouTube Video (6:20)

Play YouTube Video (5:56)

Play YouTube Video (4:46)


The body has a wide array of mechanisms to maintain homeostasis in the blood and extracellular fluid. The most important way that the pH of the blood is kept relatively constant is by buffers dissolved in the blood. Other organs help enhance the homeostatic function of the buffers.

Blood. Human blood contains a buffer of carbonic acid (H 2CO 3) and bicarbonate anion (HCO 3 -) in order to maintain blood pH between 7.35 and 7.45, as a value higher than 7.8 or lower than 6.8 can lead to death. In this buffer, hydronium and bicarbonate anion are in equilibrium with carbonic acid.

Carbon dioxide, a by-product of cellular respiration, is dissolved in the blood, where it is taken up by red blood cells and converted to carbonic acid by carbonic anhydrase. Most of the carbonic acid then dissociates to bicarbonate and hydrogen ions.

The protein hemoglobin makes an excellent buffer. It can bind to small amounts of acid in the blood, helping to remove that acid before it changes the blood's pH. Many other proteins act as buffers as well.     


Alternate Andromeda Strain Project:         

  The Book:

              The Book versus The Movie

 May students are readers. The typical Liberal Arts students are readers and writers. (not the case with many per-nursing students registered for this class) (and myself). Several years ago I had the book placed in the North Campus library, and may be purchased from
 (extra 40 points for also reading the book and comparing the book to original movie film):


If you get a copy (from paperback to Kindle to Audio CD):

1. Read the book and

2. Write an essay comparing the film to the book.

3. Also watch the YouTube below about the book transition to film and describe how they created the special effects for the 1971 film before microcomputers.

YouTube: The Andromeda Strain (1971) - 10 Behind the Scenes Facts People ask: (4:18)
How did Hollywood do some scenes before the age of computers?


The Andromeda Strain (1971) - 10 Behind the Scenes Facts



Or Another Alternate Andromeda Strain Project:

There is a third option for this project. In 2008 they made a four hour miniseries  for TV (2 hours a night--full of commercials) (Actually the DVD is 177 minutes with lots of extras)(extra 40 points for also watching the miniseries and comparing).

The Andromeda Strain Miniseries:(2008)

                           Editorial Reviews

Based on the best-selling novel by Michael Crichton, the A&E mini-series event The Andromeda Strain arrives on DVD in this special 2-disc collection! Two-time Academy Award nominee Mikael Salomon (Band of Brothers) directs a powerhouse cast, including Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order), Christa Miller (Scrubs), Eric McCormack (Will & Grace), Ricky Schroder (NYPD Blue), Andre Braugher (City of Angels), Viola Davis (Disturbia), and Daniel Dae Kim (Lost) in this thrilling sci-fi adventure. When a mysterious virus is brought to earth by a returning satellite, an elite and dedicated squad of scientists assembles to search for the truth and stop the mutating killer before it ends life on earth.

Presented by three-time Academy Award nominee Ridley Scott (American Gangster) and Primetime Emmy Award winner Tony Scott (Numb3rs), The Andromeda Strain includes all 4 televised hours, contains exclusive bonus materials and features Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. Own the action-packed epic today!

Movie Trailer: Reviewer:

Acclaimed filmmakers Ridley and Tony Scott shepherded this widely-seen, four-hour adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel about a devastating alien plague spread by a fallen satellite. The Scotts and director Mikael Salomon update the novel's technology and push this production's tone closer to medical thriller than science fiction; a capable cast led by Benjamin Bratt, Christa Miller and Andre Braugher are the clock-racers who must find a way to stop the lethal virus from spreading beyond the borders of a small desert town. Fast-paced and at times surprisingly violent, the Andromeda Strain miniseries also suffers from bad cases of giggle-worthy dialogue and performances, especially Eric McCormick (Will and Grace) as a reporter in recovery, and subplots involving the President and Bratt's romantic history bog down the action. Though the suspense makes the miniseries involving at times, the 1971 theatrical adaptation by Robert Wise was more effective in creating an unsettling sense of slow-building doom. The two-disc DVD includes commentary by Salomon and his production team, as well as a making-of documentary which chronicles the Scotts' attempts to develop the project for the big screen before turning to television, as well as extensive looks at the miniseries' special effects. A gallery of production sketches and photos round out the extras. -- Paul Gaita

Daily Motion Shorten Miniseries Part 1 Cut (1:29:19):

You can watch this series, then write a 2-4 page essay comparing the original version to the TV series. Include the details of each fim demonstration of the scientific method. Snce this requires watch and taking notes for both films, it will be worth tuce the credit. (The Taylor formula is 10-15 point per hour of your study/homework time)




 Summary of the Scientific Method

Chemistry is the branch of science that studies matter and the changes matter undergoes. Science can be defined simply as organized knowledge. Scientific knowledge is gathered systematically by performing thoughtful experiments, carefully recording observations, and ultimately drawing some conclusions. This procedure is known as the Scientific Method and it involves three possibly new vocabulary words:

  1. Experiment – collecting data by observation of chemical changes under controlled conditions.
  2. Hypothesis – formulating a tentative proposal to correlate and explain the experimental data.
  3. Theory – stating a formal theory or scientific law after extensive testing of the hypothesis.



 Some You Tube Video Clips from the Original Movie:

4. The Andromeda Strain - Original Trailer (Robert Wise, 1971) (3:18)
    The Andromeda Strain - Original Trailer (Robert Wise, 1971)

6. The Andromeda Strain//Doors/Corridors
The Andromeda Strain//Doors/Corridors

7. Andromeda Strain (1971) Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life Scene

   Andromeda Strain (1971) Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life Scene


Chapter 1: Suchocki’s Scientific Method Flow Chart:


     A Better Scientific Method Flow Chart





Question: Is The Andromeda Strain a virus?

Scientific response. A 2003 publication by the Infectious Diseases Society of America noted that The Andromeda Strain is the "most significant, scientifically accurate, and prototypic of all films of this [killer virus] genre ..



Other Pandemic Movies
Maybe you can design a project to satisfy the FSCJ Science Requirement of the Scientific Method:

 20 Virus Outbreak Movies, From ‘The Seventh Seal’ to ‘Contagion’ (Photos)




I thought about using this film (reviewed in the 20 above pandemic movies) that I saw in the movie theater:

When a new viral hemorrhagic disease breaks out in a small American town, CDC scientists race against time to stop it from spreading. Unfortunately, they also have to deal with a bloodthirsty Army general who wants the virus for a bio-weapon and is determined to prevent a cure. This absurd plot was inspired by a celebrated nonfiction history of viruses like ebola because ah, Hollywood. But at least it's directed by the great Wolfgang Petersen.


"Outbreak" (1995) - Trailer (2:02): Outbreak - Trailer





When I also saw this in the movies many years ago in 1995, I also thought about our project:

 12 Monkeys 

 Terry Gilliam's sci-fi classic stars Bruce Willis as a time traveler sent back to the 1990s to identify the origin of a global pandemic that nearly wiped out humanity. The portrayal of our world just before, and long after, the (near) end of civilization is harrowing. Luckily, the crazed ecoterrorist wannabe played by Brad Pitt provides much needed comic relief.


"12 Monkeys" (1995) -  Trailer (2:54): 12 Monkeys Official Trailer #1 - (1995) HD







When I suggest either of these two movies above, today's student comment that the following is the best pandemic movie:


 You might recognize this as the Steven Soderbergh film where Gwyneth Paltrow dies horribly from a deadly new virus. It's also a smart thriller about how diseases spread, the difficulty in finding a cure and the way conspiracy theorists and incompetent or malicious authorities can make it worse. Uh, excuse us we need a drink this is too real.


"Contagion" (2011) -  Trailer (2:28): Contagion (2011) Official Exclusive 1080p HD Trailer



Possible New Alternate Project

If you would want to modify the Project#1 using one of the alternate films or you would like to design the project as long as you can also relate the pandemic film with the scientific method, then send me an email with your ideas.



The Pandemic Yesterday & Today

(Click to buy book on Amazon)



  "Before our current virus, AIDS or Ebola, there was the Spanish Flu ― Catharine Arnold's gripping narrative, Pandemic 1918, marks the 100th anniversary of an epidemic that altered world history.

     In January 1918, as World War I raged on, a new and terrifying virus began to spread across the globe. In three successive waves, from 1918 to 1919, influenza killed more than 50 million people. German soldiers termed it Blitzkatarrh, British soldiers referred to it as Flanders Grippe, but world-wide, the pandemic gained the notorious title of “Spanish Flu”. Nowhere on earth escaped: the United States recorded 550,000 deaths (five times its total military fatalities in the war) while European deaths totaled over two million.

     "Amid the war, some governments suppressed news of the outbreak. Even as entire battalions were decimated, with both the Allies and the Germans suffering massive casualties, the details of many servicemen’s deaths were hidden to protect public morale. Meanwhile, civilian families were being struck down in their homes. The City of Philadelphia ran out of gravediggers and coffins, and mass burial trenches had to be excavated with steam shovels. Spanish flu conjured up the specter of the Black Death of 1348 and the great plague of 1665, while the medical profession, shattered after five terrible years of conflict, lacked the resources to contain and defeat this new enemy.
     * Through primary and archival sources, historian Catharine Arnold gives readers the first truly global account of the terrible epidemic."



Today Our Lives Will Change Forever:

       In February (2020), I had serious discussions about my fears about the virus and how I was going to suspend in-class testing March 1 as I did not want handle your papers (except maybe  with disposable gloves), and that no student was to come within 10 feet of me.  The country lead by our happy talk cheerleader, was burying their heads in the sand like an ostrich, despite what the scientist and doctors were warning....

     Then at FSCJ we had the science festival the first week of March and we had the Spring Term students man five table of science demonstrations for three days. We were in contact with 8000 public private school students. One 10 year old boy coughed in front of my table and it was of great concern for 10 days to two weeks.

March 7th we had Spring Break and all our lives changed.

Why was I concerned beginning late January?

When I was growing up, my mother would tell me about my grandmother and the 1918 -1919 Spanish Flu pandemic that millions of people died, including my grandmother.

It was just a story. After all my father was a doctor (from John Hopkins) and my mother was a B.S. University of Maryland nurse. After WWII we began the era of modern medicine, with antibiotics and penicillin.

But now 50-60 years later, we are in a time of a Pandemic and we have No Cure. It reminds me of the movie Contagion and we are only in the first 30 minutes of the movie. What happens from here is up to us, we are all in this together. I wonder how I will edit this file for Fall Term, 2020 classes?.


Since 1918-19 and the great worldwide pandemic we only had movies (and TV) (and Books) talking about what would happen if a Pandemic occurred.


My mother's mother (my blood grandmother) died in the 1918 of the Spanish flu.


Of course, I never knew my grandmother, and my mother's father drank himself to death after losing his wife (an engineer who fought in WWI and was still overseas when she died) and spent his last eight years in and out of VA hospitals). My mother was so torn up at 14 that despite all her efforts she could not help her mom and felt it was her fault she died.




She became a nurse, a great loving nurse, and took care of patients and our family the rest of her life. She never stopped giving and caring until she died in 1987.




           My grandmother has no grave!





Tens of thousands died in Baltimore, Maryland during the 1918-19 pandemic including my grandmother.  Millions in the World died, over 50 million,  My mother (14) and her younger sister (11) had to wrap the body of my grandmother up in a sheet and put her on the door step. Soldiers with a Red Cross truck (ambulance) would come along daily with a doctor and collect the bodies. The doctor wrote a death certificate after interviewing my 14 year old mother, there was no funeral. There were no services. My grandmother was carried to a daily mass grave. To this day the family does not know where this grave is outside Baltimore. There was no TV, There was no radio. Newspapers cost money which my mom and her sister did not have. They were evacuated to West Virginia to live with her aunt.




View over 50 images from 1918-1919:


See the comparison of today and yesterday:



The spring of 2020 saw millions of Americans sheltered in place against the coronavirus pandemic. Governors of at least 40 states and many more local governments ordered people to stay at home unless it's absolutely necessary to leave.

A little over a century earlier, a different pandemic rattled the world. In 1918, an estimated one-third of the world's population contracted the H1N1 "Spanish flu" influenza virus. Deaths are estimated to have topped 50 million worldwide.

In this haunting photo, a man in Australia poses with a painted skull-and-crossbones on his mask. Another was creative to make a homemade CPAP machine.

Seeing what is happening in NY City, brought back the images my mother when she would talk about that horrible year in 1918-1919.


It is now just 100 years later and with all or great medicine, hundreds of thousand are dying. 


Some questions you might want to add to our cyber café discussion about today and our changing lives:


How has your life changed?

Have you lost or been laid off your job?
Do you work in the health care industry?
 If so have you met anyone with the virus?

What are you doing to protect yourself and your family?
Do you know anyone who has the virus?

Do you know that many people around you may be A-symptomatic?


This Project #1 is about science fiction,
 but the reality is we are living through a non-fiction story today