The Scientific Process For Science Fair Projects

The Scientific Process

The process that you are about to embark upon is a one that may seem overwhelming at first glance. However, the Scientific Process, when taken one step at a time is very manageable and will guide you through your project rather than slow you down. In this article I will describe many of these steps key elements.

In my research, I came across a list entitled 'Scientific Process' in a book entitled How to do a Science Fair Project by Salvatore Tocci. While each project may not incorporate every single item in this list, it will likely include most of them. If nothing else this list will prevent you from missing a key element to your project just by asking 'is this something my project requires. Okay, so here is the list:
1. Making Observations
2. Forming Hypotheses
3. Conducting Experiments
4. Recording Data
5. Making Measurements
6. Modifying Hypotheses
7. Conducting Interviews
8. Making Models
9. Reviewing the Literature
10. Making Inferences
11. Drawing Conclusions
12. Verifying Results
13. Communicating Findings
14. Sharing Information

Almost all of these items are self-explanatory except 'Making Inferences.' Inferences are conclusions that are not based on direct evidences or observations but rather on indications or logical reasoning. For example, if you light a candle, your observation is 'that's a colorless liquid collectibles near the wax.' The inference would be to say that the liquid is melted wax (because it is the logical explanation). One other note must be stated at this point, and that is that your project should be done using the metric system. Metric is the universal measurement system adopted by the scientific process.

The very first thing that you must determine when starting a Science Fair Project is what your hypothesis will be. A hypothesis is an educated guess or assumption. It will be a proposal for solving a specific problem. Note that it is not necessarily an actual solution to the problem. That is what you will find out as you do the research. The hypothesis is an idea that may or may not answer a question or solve a problem but that is likely to, according to your initial investigation. A hypothesis should be clear, concise and specific. Try to state your hypothesis in one sentence. It is also important to note that your hypothesis should be testable with the resources and knowledge that you have or have access to.

The next and most important step in creating a Science Fair Project is the experimentation. Your experiments should be as simple as possible and direct. The more complex the experiment the more likely errors will occur and conclusions will be hard to determine. Also, always be sure to include a 'control.' Set up your experiment with multiple items of the same object. Keep everything about each of these items the same except for one variable. This variable is the one you are testing (ie – variable A had better results / growth than variable B, etc). Again keep one of these identical items without changing any variables to use as your control.

The last two steps are to analyze results and draw conclusions. When analyzing results be sure to only use the information obtained from your experiments. It is also very cruel that you allow the results to determine theories rather than having a theory and trying to find a way to get your results to support it. The final step is drawing conclusions. The primary conclusion you should make is if the data collected supported or rejected the hypothesis. It is very important to note that if your data does not support your hypothesis, then your project is not failed. In fact, the thing that makes a project fail, is failing to produce any conclusions. The point of the entire project is to determine whether or not your educated guess (hypothesis) was true or not, not that your guess was right.

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