Monday, February 7, 2011

So, a few moms have asked me to give them a little more background on the scientific method and so I'll share a few ideas with you.  It's important to make sure that your child has a firm grasp on these steps and what they mean.  It seems the scientific method can be broken down into a various number of steps, but these are the basics.

First of all, you need to demonstrate the Scientific Method through a well-executed project. 

PROBLEM:  What are you trying to discover or determine?   Keep in mind this needs to involve some sort of "action" or "effect",  not just a research project display (information about the planets) or a scientific principle demonstration (like a volcano).  "What is the effect of music on plant growth?"  "What is the effect of acid on egg shell degradation?"

HYPOTHESIS:  What do suppose will happen?

MATERIALS:  What supplies will you be using?

VARIABLES:  This is not really a step of the Scientific Method, but it may be worth displaying somehow on your board that you understand this concept and show each variable in your experiment. 
First of all, you have CONTROLS in your experiment that you are trying to keep the SAME so that they do not effect your dependent variable.  In the "effect of acid on egg shell degradation", examples of controls would be the same size of cups, the same volume of liquid and the same temperature of liquid. 
Your DEPENDENT VARIABLE are the egg shells.  The dependent variable is being acted upon.The only things you want effecting your dependent variable are your independent variables and not the things that should be your controls.
Your INDEPENDENT VARIABLE will be the types of acids you use (orange juice-ascorbic acid, vinegar-acetic acid, wine or grape juice-tartaric acid)

RESULTS:  What happened in your experiment?  A good experiment finds a way to QUANTITATE the results.   Observing how much egg shell is gone seems more like a QUALITATIVE observance.  After day one, you need to be able to find a way to prove how much egg shell has disappeared, by measuring.  Honestly, I can't think of a good way to quantitate how much egg shell has been eaten away by the acid. Unless you could think of a solid way to QUANTITATE this measurement, your observations are interpretive and relative.

DATA:  Show the results of your experiment through a bar or line graph.  Show the log where you recorded your data and trials.  The graphs will show quantitative data, but I may share a little qualitative observation with the judges as well, and perhaps explain why I think I observed these things.
Also, you need to have several TRIALS!  Make sure you perform this experiment more than once and take the average of each trial for your results.  For example, make sure you have three glasses of grape juice, three glasses of vinegar and three glasses or orange juice= three trials.

CONCLUSION:  Summarize what the results of your experiment were and why you think your experiment turned out like it did.  What factors effected the results?  How did the results compare with your hypothesis?
What would you do differently if you were to repeat this experiment? 

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