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Home » The Scientific Method
The scientific method is the scientist's stock in trade. You've probably heard it mentioned somewhere before in scientific circles or you might have an idea of what it involves from your science class.
It plays a very important role in scientific inquiry. I will even venture to say that if you were to define science as being the ability to read, you could very well liken the scientific research method to the alphabet.
Can you imagine trying to read and write without having first learned the alphabet! You probably wouldn't get very far down this page and at the risk of stating the obvious, your literary ability would probably be very limited.
Well the same thing goes for the scientific method and the role it plays in your ability to carry out a good scientific investigation. Understanding and applying it to your scientific inquiry will give you a very good if not the best chance to arrive at reliable, objective and credible scientific findings.
Now I should just quickly point out that although I have been using the term "the scientific method," there is actually no single "set" method. Today you will find a plethora of methods that are used by scientists from all the various disciplines and branches of science. All is not lost though, there are some basic principles that tie all these variations of the scientific inquiry process together.
But before we get into these different steps that are involved in scientific inquiry and look at how you can apply them to your own investigations, we should cover a few basics first...
I can remember using the scientific method from the very first science lesson I had in high school. Actually as I look back at it now, I suspect that parts of it were introduced to me earlier in elementary and middle school.
So there I was a few years later, sitting at the back of a rowdy lecture theater in my first higher physics class at university. It was the first week of class and we were covering the scientific process when I suddenly thought to myself; "wait just a minute, what is the scientific method anyway?"
I had been using it all those previous years but I had no clue what it actually was. Just quietly between you and me, if at the time that was to be the only question in the exam, let's just say I would have had to take that class again the following semester, or over the summer.
Now before we try and get to the bottom of what the scientific inquiry process is, it is worth it to consider the bigger picture of what science actually is. Edward O. Wilson summarizes it quite well in his book "Consilience" describing science as:
"the concerted human effort to understand, or to improve our understanding of the history of the natural world and how the natural world works"
Observable physical evidence forms the foundation of this understanding and it can be collected through made observations of natural phenomena or through well structured controlled experiments.
So where does the scientific method fit into the above definition of science? The answer lies in that "controlled experiments" thing. The scientific research method gives you a framework that you can use to structure your experiments. This is so that the "observable physical evidence" you collect and the "understanding" you draw from this evidence is accurate and scientifically sound.
As mentioned a little while earlier, you will come across many different variations of the scientific inquiry process. Some are quite elaborate and complicated whilst others are less complex and easier to follow. They are however, all based on a few basic principles; making observations, forming hypotheses and testing those hypotheses.
One of the most common versions is the 5-step scientific inquiry method and it is the one we will explore here. Below are the steps you will use to carry out your investigation:
Here's a detailed explanation of each of the scientific method steps.
Scientific principles can be fairly challenging to learn, especially when you are learning something for the first time. Most of the time this is not helped by the technical gobbledygook or over complicated way in which these principles are presented.
So with simplicity in mind, here is an easy to understand, science made simple approach to the scientific inquiry process for kids. You'll also find some great examples, printable worksheets and an explanation of the steps involved in scientific inquiry, just for kids.
Now that you know what the scientific inquiry process involves and how it relates to science, you are more than ready to begin applying it to your own experiments and investigations. Below you will find some great articles that cover the steps involved in carrying out a scientific investigation. You'll also come across some neat quizzes, worksheets, diagrams, experiments and activities that will help you become more familiar with this process that is so important to science.
Home » The Scientific Method
From ancient Greek science to medieval science to the modern scientific method, find out how this method has come to be the tool of choice for scientific inquiry.
You know that the scientific method is a very important tool in scientific inquiry, but what actually is it? Here are some great scientific method definitions that explain the scientific process and what it involves.
What springs to mind when you think of the word "science"? A classroom full of rote-memorizing students? A mad scientist sporting a white lab coat? Gobbledygook? FUN? Find out what the "experts" think science is.
Unfortunately, there is no single way to define science and today you will find a myriad of definitions with wide varying opinions. Here are some of the more interesting definitions I came across.