Observe * Research * Hypothesize * Test * Conclude
The scientific method is a process
for forming and testing solutions to problems, or
theorizing about how or why things work.
It tries to reduce the influence of "faith" or bias or prejudice
of the experimenter so that the process is valid anywhere in our
The following exercise presents two options:
Working through steps of the scientific method
Solving an every-day problem with the scientific method
From the example,
you can now repeat and demonstrate that the computer and
television were the answer. You can repeat this
condition, and predict the outcome (experiment or
test your theory).
If not paying your bill was the problem, you can repeat that
but it can be expensive and inconvenient!
The Scientific Method
State the problem and observe conditions
Observe or wonder about something in your world, or in your
class, and wonder how, why, when, something occurs
Create a short, meaningful title of your
Write out a statement of purpose that
describes what you want to do
Make a careful, step-by-step notation of your
Be objective! and do not guess why something
is happening. That takes place later
Gather information of similar research This is
a literature review
Identify significant conditions or factors of
Summarize the problem in a clear, simple
statement. Emphasize the end result or effect
Form your hypothesis
What are possible causes for what you observed?
Could they reliably and consistently predict or
determine the same outcome?
What causes are the least likely to affect the outcome?
What are the best choices?
Choose the best option or answer to your problem as
your hypothesis. This will be an "educated guess"
based upon both your observation and past experiences
State your hypothesis in a simple, clear statement
Hypothesis: a possible explanation
for a cause and effect of a given situation or set of
factors that can be tested, and can be repetitively proved
right (or wrong!) (Remember: A hypothesis is not an
observation or description of an event, that is in the
first, observation stage!)
Types of data you need
The physical sciences of chemistry and physics rely
heavily on numbers as data, and on replicable
experimentation to measure and calculate results
Sciences such as sociology rely on interviews and
observation due to limitations of experimentation with human
subjects, and use descriptions and inferences to arrive at
Design an experiment to test your hypothesis
Make a step-by-step procedure with each step's purpose
List and obtain materials and equipment you will need
Identify two groups in the test: the control group is
your reference point; no variables are changed; the
experimental group is the focus of changes to affect the
Rely on your past experience to identify variables, but
consult with a knowledgeable person for a second opinion
Run a series of experiments
Change only one variable in each experiment in order to
isolate effects reliably
Make and record accurate measurements
Repeat the test as often as necessary with the
experimental group to verify your results. Always change
only one thing, or variable, in each test
Repeat successful tests with other groups to verify your
The hypothesis is assumed to be the "answer" and is
not supported with testing
Data is ignored that doesn't support your outcome
Beliefs/bias blind you to fatal flaws in the testing
Systematic errors are not noticed and are repeated
within each experiment. These bias the outcome's standard
Equipment or conditions are not adequate
Summarize your results and conclusions use graphs and
tables to illustrate these
Refer back to your observations, data, and hypothesis
Note difficulties and problems, items for further
research, or what you would do differently if you could
If you did not prove your hypothesis,
you have succeeded in another sense!
Unsuccessful experiments provide information that can
lead to answers by eliminating options
save someone the trouble of repeating your experiments
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