The scientific method enables students to solve problems on their own and understand their surroundings better. Here are the basic steps:
Step 1: Ask a question - Will a hammer and a feather fall to earth at the same time?
Step 2: Gather information - Do an experiment and see the effect of gravity when you drop a hammer and a feather at the same time.
Step 3: Form a hypothesis - Time to answer the question “why”. Based on the results of the experiment, why did the hammer fall to the ground faster than the feather? Is your hypothesis that heavier objects fall at a faster rate of speed than lighter objects?
Step 4: Test the hypothesis - Time to try different variables. Try starting from different heights, dropping different objects, and changing the conditions. Write down all the data.
Step 5: Draw a conclusion - Based on the results of your testing, you can draw a conclusion and answer the question.
Step 6: Share the results - Scientists study and learn from each other’s work.
Step 1 - Ask a Question
The scientific method starts with asking a question. Encourage your young scientist to look at the world around them, ask questions about what they observe, and then start an investigation to find the answers. You can help them learn that some questions have answers and plenty of books written about them, but there are some questions we don’t have answers to. There is still so much left to learn, and that is one of the reasons they are studying science!
Step 2 - Gather Information
Gathering information is an important part of the scientific method. A student might have a great question, but they need more information to be able to answer it correctly. Depending on the question your student might need to make observations, build a model, or do an experiment. This hands-on learning is what will help them retain the information for years to come.
Step 3 - Form Hypothesis
A hypothesis is formed after observing and experimenting. A student’s hypothesis is their answer to the question about why something is the way it is. In the early years, your student's predictions may be wild! You're training them to use observations to predict what will happen or answer why something is the way it is. This process builds the foundation for critical thinking skills.
Step 4 - Test the Hypothesis
This is where variables are tested and tables of data are formulated. Your child might make a detailed drawing of the results or chart a graph. They may observe patterns or connections as they test their hypothesis.
Step 5 - Draw a Conclusion
Once your student completes an experiment, you can teach them to evaluate the results. Teach them to ask questions like “What happened?” “Was my hypothesis correct?” Sometimes the results will not support their hypothesis, and they will need to start over. Sometimes their results will support your hypothesis, but they will need to do the experiment in a different way or with different variables.
Step 6 - Share the Results
Scientists will sometimes keep their experiments and discoveries a secret, but eventually, they will want to share them with everyone. We know so much about our world because of the scientists who have gone before us. You can help your students learn about what scientists are studying today. As they study Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, remind them that they were part of the Royal Society in the UK that was established in 1660, and where 8,000 scientists have been elected as fellows - some of whom are still studying science today. These scientists are often published in scientific journals as they share the results of their experiments. Encourage your student to share the results of their experiments too!