What is the Scientific Method and why is it so important? The scientific method is a series of steps that scientists use to guide their research. It gives a plan that keeps scientists organized, focused and curious. For these reasons, we use the scientific method when we design every BioBox and use it as an outline to guide the experiments in each lab notebook.
Why use the Scientific Method
Using the scientific method is kind of like using a recipe when cooking. If we are making cookies and don’t follow the steps of the recipe, our cookies might not taste very good. When we carefully follow the directions, we make our results more dependable. The steps of the Scientific Method give scientists (and us!) a plan for their research that helps to keep the results focused on facts, not emotions or bias. These results are more dependable.
History: where the process began
The scientific method was first imagined in Ancient Greece when people started understanding and thinking about the world in new ways. Aristotle was a thinker who was the first to understand the importance of measurement and consensus. Consensus means that we all agree or are using the same information.
During the renaissance, people started looking back at Aristotle’s ideas. Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626), a scientist, was the first person to formalize the process we now call the scientific method. Isaac Newton (1642-1727) added onto these ideas and documented all of his experiments and equations. Scientists throughout the years have tested Newton’s equations over and over using the scientific method and found they dependably get the same results. Since this time, while there have been slight changes, the steps of the scientific method have generally stayed the same.
Scientific Method Steps
1. Observations and Questions: Use all of your senses to notice the world around you. What do you see, smell, hear, feel? This then will lead to questions. Curiosity is important! Why are leaves green? Why does your heart pound in your chest when you run? If there are germs that need to be washed off our hands, what do they look like and why are they so harmful?
2. Background information: What do you know about the topic? Gather details through books or online resources.
3. Hypothesis: Idea or possible explanation that you can test and is based on what you already know. Prediction of the results.
4. Materials and Procedure: Time to do an experiment – collect the materials needed and follow or create the steps of the procedure.
5. Results: Write down what happens. This can be drawings, written observations, or numbers in charts or graphs.
6. Conclusions: What do the results mean? What have you learned? Does this support the hypothesis?
7. Ask more Questions: every experiment should lead to more questions and another experiment. What else is there to discover?
While you may not use every step in every experiment, it is a good to go through the list of steps each time.
What about you?
Why not give it a try today? What questions have you been curious to discover? The scientific method can help guide your steps through the process of discovery. The method has been used by scientists for hundreds of years. Maybe you’ll be the next to join them!