Key Learning: Scientists conduct investigations for a wide variety of reasons. The practice of science is a multifaceted activity employing certain principles scientists use to guide scientific research and experimentation.
UEQ: What influence does the scientific method have on the practice of science?
1. Pose a Question
How can I use prior empirical evidence to develop a testable question?
- Begin your project log in a separate spiral bound notebook or composition book. Your log book is a record of every step of your project including the development of your question, research, experimentation, the argumentation of your results and any reflections you have throughout the process.
- Your log book serves as the documentation of your work. Don’t forget to glue, staple or tape all important items including photographs and photocopies.
- Your question must be testable and should not be limited to things such as a demonstration, survey or collection.
- When developing your question consider the following: equipment needs, safety precautions, identification of variables, cost, school rules and regulations, topic interest and availability of research.
- You also need to pick a question that has prior empirical evidence.
2. Conduct Research
What can I learn from research about my question?
- Identify key words based on your question or problem.
- Develop research questions and use them as a guide as you look for information. One of your research questions should include the identification of prior empirical evidence.
- Keep a continual bibliography including the research you conducted to come up with your question.
- Conduct your research at the media center or on the Internet. Search books, magazines, journals, newspapers, online periodicals, reputable company and organization websites, etc.
- Other possible sources of information may come from writing companies/organizations or from talking to a community scientist.
- The information you collect at this time will also help you prepare the research report.
3. Develop a Hypothesis
How does my hypothesis reflect the relationship between my independent and dependent variable?
- Based on the background research you collected, predict what you think will happen during your experiment.
- Use an If, then format to develop your hypothesis. Make sure you include both the independent and dependent variable in your hypothesis.
- Your hypothesis must be testable; in other words it should measure both what you do and what will happen
4. Design an Experiment
How can I design a scientific investigation to test my hypothesis?
- Develop your procedures and materials list
- Be thorough and describe each step in sufficient detail
- Determine a way to use technology and math including measurement in metrics.
- Provide a description and size of all experimental and control groups.
- Include information pertaining to all variables (independent, dependent, and controlled)
In what ways can I evaluate my experimental design to ensure replication and verification by other science investigators.
- Make sure your procedures can be easily followed by another person.
- If you are testing or surveying a groups, them make sure you sample size is large enough to produce reliable results. It is not necessary to conduct multiple trials if your sample size is large enough.
5. Conduct the Experiment
What are the most effective ways to collect data for my investigation?
- Follow your step-by-step procedures and conduct systematic observations
- Make sure you maintain your controlled variables and keep detailed notes through the process
- Record any potential problems or any procedural adjustments you made during the experiment
- Use table or chards to organize you data as you collect it.
6. Analyze Data
What is the relationship between the variables in my experiment?
- Examine the evidence you collected, apply logic and construct a proposed explanation.
- Examine your results mathematically using percentages, mean, median, range and mode.
- Calculate an average of your trials (if applicable)
- Double check your calculations.
How can I analyze my data using the appropriate graph?
- Construct charts and graphs to look for patterns of change.
- Label graph axes and use units of measure. When graphing your data, remember that the independent variable goes on the x-axis and the dependent variable goes on the y-axis.
- Determine if you need to collect more data or if you made any mistakes.
7. Draw Conclusions
How does my data impact what I predicted?
- Justify your explanation
- Explain what you found out and learned during your experiment. Include key facts from background research to help you explain your results.
- Explain how the data you collected supports your hypothesis or if your data doesn’t support your hypothesis, then explain why you reject your hypothesis
- State the relationship between your independent and dependent variable (if appropriate).
- Evaluate your experimental procedures and discuss ideas for further testing.
8. Communicate Results
What are the most effective ways to share my results with others?
How is my investigation useful to others?
Students prepare a final report:
- Title page
- Table of Contents
- Question, variables, and hypothesis
- Background research (the research paper)
- Materials list
- Experimental procedures
- Data analysis and discussion (including data table and graph(s))