Monday, September 10, 2012

The Scientific Method

The Scientific Method
On Friday we discussed the Scientific Method, and what each step looks like. The first step is determining the question/problem. We brainstormed ways to make a testable question - one we can design and conduct an experiment to answer, which leaves no room for opinions. For example, we wouldn't come up with the question, "A paper airplane made out of which type of paper is the best?" The students helped me figure out why this could lead to many different answers. I could look at the best one as the one that turned out the prettiest, while someone else would see the best one as being the one that flew the farthest. The wording of the question is very important!

The second step is drawing from our background knowledge. Sometimes this might require a little research beforehand. For example, if I were to do an experiment involving any type of car part, I would certainly need to do some research before coming up with my hypothesis!

The third step is formulating our hypothesis based on our background knowledge or research. Step four testing our hypothesis. This involves deciding on our ONE variable, and many constants. The kids and I brainstormed why it is so important to only change one variable at a time! Step five is analyzing our data to draw our conclusion, which could include retesting (maybe even many times!) for reliability.  Finally, the sixth step is to report our findings. You may not know this, but a standard for our 4th graders is to "communicate valid, oral, and written results supported by data." This is a very important step!