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Scientific Method

Scientific Method

Author: Sophia Tutorial
Description:

This lesson will introduce the scientific method and explain how to use the scientific method to gather data and help set up an experiment.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

Today you will be discussing

  1. Scientific Method & Its Steps
  2. How the Scientific Method is Used

1. Scientific Method & Its Steps

The scientific method is basically a set of guidelines that scientists can use in order to help explain a phenomenon. Being a set of guidelines, it might vary slightly from one source to another. The scientific method isn't a rigid set of steps that needs to be followed.

Term to Know

Scientific Method

A series of steps scientists can use as a guideline to solve a problem or examine a phenomenon.

Let’s discuss what these seven steps to the scientific method are, and then give you a concrete example of how they could be used in the real world.

Step by Step

Step 1: Make an observation

An observation can be something that you see, hear, or experience. An observation involves using your senses in order to take in information about your surroundings.

Example An observation could be that a soda company has consumers who report nausea after drinking its soda. 

Step 2: Ask a question

You're asking a question about what you have observed.

Example Is it actually the soda that's causing the problem? Or could it be something else?

Step 3: Develop a hypothesis

A hypothesis is a proposed explanation about what you think is happening.

Term to Know

Hypothesis

An educated guess or explanation of a phenomenon.

One important thing to remember is that a hypothesis should always be testable. You also want to make sure that your hypothesis is explaining what you think is happening.

IN CONTEXT

Your hypothesis might be that the soda can cause an upset stomach and nausea, which is something you can then test.

Step 4: Make a prediction

A prediction is the first step to testing your hypothesis. You're basically asking yourself what you think you will observe.

IN CONTEXT

Your prediction could be that the soda is likely to produce digestive upsets. You are predicting what you think you are going to observe if you were to set up an experiment.

Step 5: Test your prediction

You test your prediction with an experiment. An experiment is a test that’s done under controlled conditions in which you can manipulate things in order to try to explain the phenomenon that’s happening. You’ll set up an experiment, and then you’ll collect data.

Term to Know

Experiment

A test set up to explain a phenomenon.

IN CONTEXT

If you were to set up an experiment for the soda company example, the experiment might be to hire a large amount of people to test. The larger the number, the better, because you would be able to collect more data. The more data that you have, the more accurate your test will be.

Let’s say for this example you’re hiring 200 people, and half of them are given one can of soda a day for six weeks. The other half of them are given a different brand of soda, so they’ll be our control group. All participants in this experiment, you’ll say, are required to record their results each day.

If they get any sort of digestive upsets, they need to make record of that. In an experiment, you will always have variables, which are factors that can change. The variable in this experiment is going to be the type of soda that you’re using.

You have a control group using a different brand of soda, and then you have another group that’s using the brand of soda that people are claiming makes them sick.

You’re able to compare one group to the other to see if it’s actually the soda causing the sickness, or if it’s possibly something else.

Term to Know

Variable

A factor in an experiment that can be changed or manipulated.

Step 6: Repeat your test or make new tests

If your results are in line with your hypothesis, you will repeat your test. You want to make sure that you repeat it several times because the more you repeat it and the more data that you have, the more accurate your results will be. Repeating the test will also help ensure that the results you get are not just a fluke. So the more data, the better.

Now, maybe the results that you get are different from what you were expecting. You can either repeat the test again to make sure, or you can make new tests using a different variable to try and figure out what's going on in order to explain that phenomenon that's happening.

Step 7: Analyze and report

Finally, you're going to analyze your results, and then report those results. Generally, scientists will report their results in a scientific journal.


2. How the Scientific Method is Used

A scientific theory is an explanation of events based on repeated tests.

Term to Know

Scientific Theory

An explanation of an observation that has been rigorously tested.

Scientific theories oftentimes will use the scientific method in order to explain a phenomenon, but they will have to do this several times. They're repeating their tests over and over and getting the same results every time. Therefore, you know that when you call something a scientific theory, you believe it to be true since it's been tested so many times.

Example An example of a scientific theory would be the theory of natural selection. Darwin came up with this theory after he tested his research over and over and over again, so many times that he could actually believe it to be true.


Summary

You learned that the scientific method is a set of guidelines that scientists use to help explain a phenomenon or event. This set of guidelines includes steps, such as developing a hypothesis and making a prediction, to follow when using the scientific method. You also learned how the scientific method is used in real life. As an example, we discussed testing a brand of soda to determine how or if it caused stomach upsets.

Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR AMANDA SODERLIND

Terms to Know
Experiment

A test set up to explain a phenomenon.

Hypothesis

An educated guess or explanation of a phenomenon.

Scientific Method

A series of steps scientists can use as a guideline to solve a problem or examine a phenomenon.

Scientific Theory

An explanation of an observation that has been rigorously tested.

Variable

A factor in an experiment that can be changed or manipulated.