Regardless of the level of scientific enquiry, be it
preschoolers, grade schoolers, high school students or those studying at
colleges and universities, the fundamental basics of the scientific method
remain the same. While the concepts being explored may change and become more
complex, and even the names of the various stages of the scientific method may
change to suit the age group, each step of the process follows the same
The scientific method is a simple, consistent process by
which to prove or disprove a theory or belief. At its most basic, it is a systematic
framework in which to question, theorize, test, measure and observe, and record
results of experimentation based upon a theory or hypothesis.
Any scientific enquiry, regardless of the area of study,
begins with a question, the first step in the scientific method. The basic who,
what, when, why, where, which and how questions are the place to start. Finding
a question that can be answered with a measurable or observable outcome is
Once the question has been asked, it is time to do some
research. This will ensure you aren’t repeating what has already been learned,
and that you can avoid mistakes made by previous scientists. Gathering
information is a valuable step.
Creating a hypothesis, or theory, will give the experiment
some shape and direction. Often, especially for younger students, it can be
presented in an “If…, then…” style.
Once the hypothesis has been formulated it is time to design
and carry out the experiment. The experiment should be measurable, and for
If you change aspects of the experiment, ensure that it
is an equitable process by only making one change at a time.
Once experimentation is complete, it is time to examine your
conclusions and analyze your measurements. From the results, you will be able
to discern whether your hypothesis was true or false. Sometimes, given a false
response, scientists will use the information gained to form a new theory and
begin experimenting again under the revised hypothesis.
The final stage is that of communicating your results.
Whether this is in a paper for a class, a peer reviewed scientific journal or a
presentation for a science fair, the conclusions should be laid out and communicated.