The Scientific Method: Data and Science for Kids
By Anna Bauman
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In order to test hypotheses, researchers conduct carefully controlled experiments using the scientific method.
Science is a great way to explore the world and how it works, but what is science, exactly? When you think of science, you probably picture a scientist in a lab coat, but "science" itself means something different. Science can mean one of two things: the process of discovery, or the knowledge gained through this process.
Researchers and scientists across the globe use a process called the scientific method to learn more about the natural world that we live in. Everything that we know about the Earth, animals, plants, fish, and the weather is thanks to the work of science. The neat thing about science is that it is a process that never stops! Every new discovery leads to a new question, which, in turn, leads to a new hypothesis and a new piece of knowledge.
Discover Scientific Method
Experimentation is the cornerstone of science. These links explain why proper experimentation using the scientific method is so important; you can also read articles that show science in action or play games to learn more about several different scientific subjects. Click on a link to get started.
Did You Know?
Think you understand the scientific method? Here are a few cool facts to test your knowledge.
The scientific method was first thought of by Aristotle, back in ancient Greece. Before then, it was enough to simply create a hypothesis of, say, why birds fly, and use reason to support that hypothesis. Aristotle said that being able to think of a reason by itself wasn't science; the scientist would have to back up their theory with some kind of proof. Through the centuries, the scientific method that we know today came into being. The scientific method is a way for scientists to learn about things without making the mistake of not proving their claims.
Another cool fact about the scientific method is that it is designed so that anyone - any scientist or student - can do the same experiment themselves and see the results. Let's say that Scientist Bill works on Experiment A and finds out that putting soap into a bowl of water with pepper in it will make the pepper scatter to the far edge of the bowl. The scientific method allows Scientist Bill to record his experiment in a way that Scientist Sally can perfectly repeat his experiment and get the same result.
Steps of the Scientific Method
When scientists need to check a hypothesis, they use a special set of steps - otherwise known as the scientific method. This allows them to test their ideas without worrying about a personal bias affecting their results.
Here is a quick explanation of the steps in the scientific method and why they are important.
The first step of the scientific method is simply to ask a question.
Any question will do. It could be something like, "Does salt make water heat up faster?" or "Do batteries last longer if they're kept in a refrigerator?"
The next step involves research, but don't worry - it's fun research.
Before a scientist can perform an experiment, they have to know all of the basics about what it is they're working with. How long do batteries usually last outside of the refrigerator? How cool is the refrigerator?
The third step is to make a guess as to what will happen, which is called a hypothesis.
Scientist Bill might think that keeping batteries in the refrigerator will make them run down more quickly. From there, all you (or Scientist Bill) has to do is run the experiment, see what the results are, and create a conclusion based on those results.
Scientific Method Resources
Learning about science in a textbook can be boring, especially if the concept is a hard one to understand. That's why scientists throughout time have used science experiments both as a way to interact with the world and to prove or disprove their theories about how the world works. You don't have to be a professional scientist to try experiments, though. Once you understand the scientific method and its importance, you can try your very own science experiments at home.
There are several important scientific discoveries - like knowledge about a supernova or a new medical technique - that have been made by kids! An interest in science is the first step towards making discoveries of your own.
Click on the links below to learn more about science and to plan your own scientific experiments.
In the world of science, there will always be new ways of understanding and interpreting the world around us. Museums are a good way to learn more about science, since they will often have interactive exhibits explaining new discoveries and other scientific ideas.
A great way to learn about some of the more recent discoveries science has made is to read the news; there are a lot of news outlets for kids that are written in a way that's a bit easier to understand. There's no way to know what science will uncover in the next few years, but one thing's for sure - we'll have a lot of new questions and answers to learn from and enjoy!