The Scientific Method

Only Four Simple Steps!

The Scientific Method

The scientific method is rather simple, and all it takes is four steps!


Observation- What scientists sense about the world around them, using any of their senses. These observations lead to the problem/question.

Hypothesis- A testable question written in an if/then statement.

Testing- Observations/experiments done to test the hypothesis. It's not always a controlled experiment, though. Sometimes the testing involves observing things.

Conclusion- Where the hypothesis is accepted or rejected, the results are analyzed, and the significance of the experiment is stated.

Remember, you can do an experiment in four simple steps!

What an experiment should look like:

Observation- A patch of grass with pigeon pea legumes grows greened in your yard.

Hypothesis- If a patch of grass has pigeon pea legumes, then it will grow more green and lush.

Testing- Over three years, the patch with the legumes was the most green/lush

Conclusion- The hypothesis is accepted. The legumes improved the soil quality, so the plants grew better in the long run.

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How NOT to do an experiment

Observation- Cats are different colors.

Hypothesis- Cats are different colors because of how you treat the mother.

Testing- Buying one hundred cats of all different colors, (50 male, 50 female), and treat the half of the females well, and half of them poorly. Record what color the babies are over several generations.

Conclusion- They hypothesis is wrong because the cats were all different colors.

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Vocabulary

  • Test Group- Exposed to the experimental variable.
  • Control Group- Not exposed to the experimental variable, (to give you something to measure your results again).
  • Independent Variable- The experimental variable, or, the thing you change.
  • Dependent Variable- The result of the thing you changed.
  • Valid- Different scientists can repeat an experiment and get the same results.
  • Reliable- You can repeat an experiment and get the same results.
  • Controlled Experiment- Only one variable is changed during testing.

Other things to remember

  • NO personal pronouns.
  • The hypothesis HAS to be testable.
  • The testing HAS to be a controlled experiment.
  • The conclusion MUST accept or reject the hypothesis.
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