Before you begin your search for knowledge, know how you’ll conduct that search. The steps in the scientific method provide a solid outline for hypotheses and experiments that will go in your research notebook. Get excited to learn by reading this quick overview of the scientific method!
Make an Observation
Notice something about the world around you—a question that needs an answer, or a problem that needs a solution. This observation can be qualitative (defined by non-numerical qualities) or quantitative (measured with numbers and units). Ask a question based on this observation, and set out to answer it.
Develop a Hypothesis
A hypothesis is a possible answer to the question you asked during the first step. That answer may be wrong, but it gives you a place to start with your experiment. No matter what the results are, you’ll have learned something—even if it’s that you’ll need to start over with a new hypothesis.
Experiment and Gather
Now it’s time to test the validity of your hypothesis. Take out your research notebook and open it to a fresh page before beginning any new experiment or observation. Document all of your findings, both neatly and completely. If you’re in the lab performing an experiment, write out every step of your process. If you’re in the field collecting data, keep it organized and make sure your thoughts are complete.
Analyze the data you collected in the previous step. Do your findings support or negate your hypothesis? If you find your hypothesis to be true, continue to repeat experiments or collect more data; your findings must be reliable and reproducible! If you find your hypothesis to be untrue, modify it and start your experiment over or collect more data.
The scientific method isn’t a linear journey with an end point. It’s a continuous circle of experimenting, tinkering, and analyzing data in search of the truth. As you prepare to begin that cycle, pick up one of Scientific Notebook’s lab books to assist you in your research. Remember this quick overview of the scientific method as you take notes!