Following the Scientific Method

The scientific method is a technique for finding the solution to a problem by doing experiments and making observations. This method is made up of four essential elements: observation, hypothesis, prediction and experiment.

The steps of the scientific method are described in detail below:

Define the problem:

Assign a title for your project.

Write the purpose of the project. What is your objective? What are you trying to find out?

Observe carefully. Make a note of your observations. Avoid guessing.

Ask a question in a single sentence based on your observation. Use words like how, why, when, where, who or what.

A few examples of problems would be: How does class attendance affect exam grades? How does the number of times you read a chapter affect your grades?

It is important that the solution be measurable as a number.

Conduct background research:

Use the Internet or library to collect research information for a similar problem.

Be aware of the common errors committed in the past.

Base your research on questions such as what are the causes for what you observed, can the results be reproduced under the same conditions, when is it least likely to occur, and what are the preferred choices?

Develop a hypothesis:

A hypothesis is an “educated guess” with the best choice becoming the answer to the problem.

The purpose of a hypothesis is to find a solution in measurable terms.

Form your hypothesis in a simple, concise cause-effect type of statement. It is usually worded as, “If-------this is done, then------this will happen.” For instance, If a student misses 50% of classes for a subject, then his/her GPA is likely to be between 2.75 and 2.9.

Test by performing an experiment:

Conduct tests to prove your hypothesis.

Make a step-by-step plan to perform your experiment. State the objective of each step.

Obtain the equipment you need for the test.

Identify variables.

Run the test.

Record results.

Repeat the experiment several times by changing only one variable at a time. Record results for every iteration.

Tips

Pure sciences such as Physics and Chemistry depend on numbers for analysis and interpretation. Behavioral sciences such as Sociology and Psychology draw inferences based on interviews and observation.

Analyze the results of the experiments:

Collect the results for analysis.

Deduce if the hypothesis is true or false.

Draw a conclusion and announce results:

Summarize your results and communicate the same.

Often, the hypothesis turns out to be false. Document the experimentation so that the same error is not repeated in the future.

Suggest alternative methods for solving the problem.

A simple example of the scientific method:

Purpose: I want to complete my assignments.

Hypothesis: If I study for two hours every morning, I can complete my assignments.

Materials: Alarm clock.

Procedure: Set the alarm for 5 a.m. every day. Turn off mobile.

Results: Assignments complete.

Conclusion: When I set aside time, I complete homework.