What is the Scientific Method?
The scientific method is a systematic technique to examine a problem or question, formulate a plan to investigate, and then using a logical means to determine a conclusive solution to the problem or question. The scientific method is broken into several steps that are generally followed in order, they include:
- Formulating or defining a question
- Collect information and research (observations)
- Form an initial hypothesis
- Experiment in effort to prove hypothesis
- Analyze data collected during experiments
- Draw conclusions from data and develop further experiments
- Record data
- Repeat steps 4 thru 7 until exhausted all options to prove hypothesis
- Make final conclusion and publish results
Formulating or defining a question
Look at the issue or problem that you are trying to solve. What do you think is happening? What do you think might happen if you add something or alter something? Can you predict what might possibly happen?
Example: You are trying to figure out what types of light makes plants grow better. You might guess that sunlight is the best light and that it would make plants grow better than Florissant or incandescent light.
Collect information and research (observations)
Collecting information is the process of researching established knowledge about the factors that are involved in the initial question or problem. Reading books or internet research on the topics is a good way to brush up on well known and proven knowledge about a topic. This is aid you deciding how to manipulate the experiments to better prove or disprove your hypothesis.
Form an initial hypothesis
Make a “best guess” about what you believe the answer to the problem is. Use the knowledge gained from the research you did and formulate a possible answer to the question or a solution to the problem. Make this guess with just the knowledge you have gained before any experimentation.
Experiment in effort to prove hypothesis
Create and execute experiments to better solve the problem or question you established. The experiments are not limited to chemical, physical or mental. The experiments can be any actions that provide viable data that might lead to proving or disproving the hypothesis or “best guess”.
Analyze & record collected data
Collect the data that is generated from the experiments and organize it in a manner so that you can compare the results from each experiment. The data is the recorded for comparison to future variations of experiments.
Draw conclusions from data and develop further experiments
Analyze the data for possible further experiments that would be beneficial to proving or disproving your hypothesis. Take in all possible factors and determine which if you can come to a logical answer to the question you are trying to prove. If you are unable to come to a logical answer, develop further experiments to provide data that can lead you to better come to a conclusion. There is no limit to the amount of experimentation.
Example: To test the best light you find that natural light is better than incandescing bulbs through experiments you conclude that the plant grows better under the natural light. But what about Florissant bulbs? Or bulbs that mimic natural light? Black light? You will need to continue experimentation until you exhaust all reasonable types of light.
Make final conclusion and publish results
Now that you have found an answer to the question or problem, you need to publish and share the idea with others. This is important because there may be others trying to solve the same problem and by sharing the information and you will be able to use your experiences to save other time and energy by recreating your experiments.
SCIENTIFIC METHOD RECAP
- Identify the problem or question (Define)
- Research and guess on what is going to happen (Hypothesis)
- Conduct experiments to prove/disprove your hypothesis (Experiment)
- Collect and analyze the data (Results)
- Formulate Conclusions (Conclusion)
- Share the results with other (Publish!)
If you have any questions please comment and good luck on you’re studying for the ASVAB exam!