Scientific Method

The Scientific Method
1. State the Problem.(Ask a question.)
2. Background Research.  (Find out what is already known.)
3. Make a Hypothesis (educated guess to answer the question).
4. Test the Hyposthesis with an Experiment.
  a. Make Observations.
  b. Collect Data.
5. Analyze the Data. (Organize it, make a graph, find out what it means.)
6. Make a Conclusion (accept, reject or modify your hypothesis).
7. Communicate your Results.

The Scientific Method is the basis of scientific inquiry; it's the procedure that scientists follow to study the universe around them.  Observation is a key part of this method.  It is important to understand the difference between observations and assumptions.

Observation - Something you know because your senses told you.  For example, you might know that the sky is blue by looking at it.

Assumption - Something you think you know, but your senses didn't tell you.  For example, if you can't see the sky you might think that it is blue.  However, storm clouds might make it actually look gray.  Without directly looking at the sky, we are not really observing it.

In an experiment, we often talk about control groups and experimental groups.
  - The control group is the group that you do not do any
    experimental procedure to.  You leave it as normal as possible,
    so you have something to compare to.
  - The experimental group is the group that you test in the
    experiment.  You will compare this one to the control group to
    see how your experiment worked.
For example, if I wanted to see how Chemical X affects a plant, I would set up two pots with plants in them.  One plant, the control, I would just water normally.  The other plant, I would water and give Chemical X to.  Then I could observe any differences between the two plants.