Pocket Guide to the Scientific Method
Overview of the Scientific Method
In order for a scientist to be successful, it is important that he/she remembers that scientific knowledge is gained through a series of logical steps or what is known as the Scientific Method.
Chapter 2 of your textbook goes into considerable depth explaining how the scientific method came to be and what each step encompasses. What I am providing you with here is just a short summary of the Scientific Method and is not intended to replace the information in the book. Consider this your “pocket guide” to the Scientific Method.
The scientific method begins when an observation of some natural phenomenon is made. Borrowing from our lesson last week on what constitutes a good hypothesis, the observation could be that water changes from a liquid to a solid when it gets very cold.
Next the observer of the natural phenomenon constructs a hypothesis to help explain what he/she has observed. Remember to look at last week’s course content to review what makes a hypothesis good.
Once the hypothesis is generated, the observer develops a method for testing his/her hypothesis and performs the test(s). Make sure when you perform your experiments in future weeks of this course to remember to take thorough and detailed notes of both your testing schemes and the results of those tests.
After the testing is complete, the data that was generated must be analyzed and the results interpreted. Being able to analyze and interpret results can take some practice! So do not be discouraged later on if you struggle with this step in the scientific method.
The last step in the scientific method is to use your data to make a conclusion about your hypothesis. Does your data support or negate your hypothesis? If your data supports your hypothesis what question can you now ask about the phenomenon? If your data does not support your hypothesis, how can you revise it based on what you have learned? By answering these questions, we are starting the scientific method all over again!
Summary of the Five Steps in the Scientific Method:
1. Make an observation.
2. Formulate a Hypothesis
3. Test your hypothesis
4. Analyze the data/compile the test results
5. Make a conclusion about your hypothesis (accept or reject)
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