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Scientific Method

Scientific Method

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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. The scientific method is a set of guidelines, so this might vary a little bit. If you're looking in one textbook versus another textbook, the steps might vary slightly, but that's because it's just a set of guidelines. The scientific method isn't a rigid set of steps that need 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, that you hear, that you experience. An observation is 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 their soda. That might be an observation that they have.

Step 2: Ask a question

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

Example Is this soda causing this problem? 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 is that a hypothesis should always be testable. You should be able to test your hypothesis. You want to make sure that your hypothesis is kind of explaining what you 1 think is happening, and it’s also testable.

IN CONTEXT

Our hypothesis might be the soda can cause upset stomach and nausea, so that’s something that you can test. You can test if the soda is causing an upset stomach and nausea.

Step 4: Make a prediction.

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

IN CONTEXT

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 and so you think you will observe that the soda is going to produce digestive upsets; that is our prediction.

Step 5: Test our prediction

You test our 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 this phenomenon that’s happening, try and figure out what is going on. In our experiment, 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 our soda company example, the experiment would be maybe to hire a large amount of people to test. The larger the number, the better, because you would be able to collect more data and the more data that you have, the more accurate of a test that you have.

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. And 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 and variables are factors that can change. So our variable in this experiment is going to be the type of soda that you’re using.

You have our control group using a different brand of soda, a control brand of soda and then you have our other 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 possibly it’s something else.

Term to Know

Variable

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

Step 6: Repeat our test or make new tests

If our results are in line with our hypothesis, you will repeat our test. You want to make sure that you repeat several times, because the more you repeat it and the more data that you have, the more accurate your results will be. You should always repeat your test to make sure that the results you get are not just a fluke, to make sure they're actually accurate. So the more data, the better.

Now, maybe our results that you get are different from what you were expecting. So we can either repeat it again to make sure. You can make new tests to try and test a different variable to try and figure out what's going on to help explain that phenomenon that's happening.

Step 7: Analyze and report

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


2. How the Scientific Method is Used

So a scientific theory is an explanation to 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, getting the same results every time so that you know when you call something a scientific theory you believe it to be true because 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 a theory of natural selection and it's not something that he just came up with in one day. It was something that he tested in research over and over and over again, so many times that you can actually believe it to be true.


Summary

The scientific method is a type of guidelines that scientists use to help explain a phenomenon or event. Part of this guideline include steps to follow when using the scientific method. These steps include things like developing a hypothesis and making a prediction. You also learn how the scientific method is used in real life. We discussed the soda example and testing 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
  • Scientific Method

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

  • Experiment

    A test set up to explain 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.

  • Hypothesis

    An educated guess or explanation of a phenomenon.