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The Scientific Method

A biology investigation usually starts with an observation that is, something that catches the biologists attention. For
instance, a plant biologist might notice that a certain kind of fruit ripens faster than others. A marine ecologist, seeing
the coral reefs of her field sites are turning white (bleaching) might set out to understand why.
How do biologists follow up on these observations? How can you follow up on your own observations of the natural
world? A scientific method is a logical-problem solving approach used by biologists and many other scientists.

The scientific method

At the core of biology and other sciences lies a problem solving approach called the scientific method. The scientific
method has six basic steps, plus one feedback step:
1. Make an observation
2. Ask a question
3. Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation, and make a prediction
4. Do an experiment to test the prediction
5. Present the results of the experiment
6. Draw a conclusion from the result
7. Use the result of the experiment to make new hypotheses or predictions

The steps in scientific method

First step: Observation
The first step of the scientific method involves making an observation about something that interests you. This is very
important if you are doing a science project because you want your project to be focused on something that will hold
your attention. Your observation can be on anything from plant movement to animal behavior, as long as it is something
you really want to know more about. This is where you come up with the idea for your science project.

Second step: Question

Once you've made your observation, you must formulate a question about what you have observed. Your question
should tell what it is that you are trying to discover or accomplish in your experiment. When stating your question you
should be as specific as possible. For example, if you are doing a project on plants, you may want to know how plants
interact with microbes.
Your question may be: Do plant spices inhibit bacterial growth?

Third step: Hypothesis

The hypothesis is a key component of the scientific process. A hypothesis is an idea that is suggested as an explanation
for a natural event, particular experience, or specific condition that can be tested through definable experimentation.
It states the purpose of your experiment, the variables used, and the predicted outcome of your experiment. It is
important to note that a hypothesis must be testable. That means that you should be able to test your hypothesis
through experimentation. Your hypothesis must either be supported or falsified by your experiment. An example of
a good hypothesis is: If there is a relation between listening to music and heart rate, then listening to music will cause a
person's resting heart rate to either increase or decrease.

Fourth step: Experiment

Once you've developed a hypothesis, you must design and conduct an experiment that will test it. You should develop a
procedure that states very clearly how you plan to conduct your experiment. It is important that you include and identify
a controlled variable or dependent variable in your procedure. Controls allow us to test a single variable in an
experiment because they are unchanged. We can then make observations and comparisons between our controls and
our independent variables (things that change in the experiment) to develop an accurate conclusion.

Fifth step: Results

The results are where you report what happened in the experiment. That includes detailing all observations and data
made during your experiment.
Most people find it easier to visualize the data by charting or graphing the information.

Sixth step: Conclusion

The final step of the scientific method is developing a conclusion. This is where all of the results from the experiment are
analyzed and a determination is reached about the hypothesis. Did the experiment support or reject your hypothesis? If
our hypothesis was supported, it means that your experiment is good. If not, repeat the experiment or think of ways to
improve your procedure.

1. The passage below describes some of the steps of the scientific method. Select the
part of the passage that describes identifying the question.
Hint: To identify the question, you pose a question that focuses on a problem.

Katie was playing an apple bobbing game at a party. During the game, she began
to wonder if a fruits size is related to whether it floats or sinks. She speculated
that smaller fruits would float but larger fruits would sink. So, Katie gathered five
limes, five mangoes, and five pumpkins, placed the fruits in the large tub of water,
and recorded whether they floated or sank after five minutes. She found