Science Fair Scientific Method: Steps to Use When Asking and Answering Questions in Science Projects

When young students are learning to interpret scientific data, it is important they learn to understand the process scientists use to ask and answer scientific questions. Understanding and implementing the scientific method will help a student narrow the focus of a science fair project as well as construct a hypothesis to test.

Once a student has constructed a hypothesis, the scientific method can be used to lead him through designing, executing and evaluating his experiment. During an academic career most students will participate in at least one science fair and an early understanding of the scientific method can be beneficial.

Steps of the Scientific Method

Ask A Question: The first step in the scientific method is to ask a question about something that is observed. The questions that can be asked and answered using the scientific method are typically those that begin with who, what, where, why, when or how. Answers to questions must be measurable, preferably in a numerical manner.

Do Background Research: There is no need to start from scratch when putting together an experiment. It is okay to use credible information from the Internet or the library when constructing a project. Using resources such as these will help to determine the best way of testing a hypothesis.

Construct a Hypothesis: A hypothesis is an educated guess about something. It is essentially the question or theory to be tested. A hypothesis has to be worded in a way that can be easily measured and tested and usually takes the form of, ‘If I do _______{this}, then _______{this} will happen.’

Test the Hypothesis Through Experimentation: In this step, an experiment must be designed to test whether the hypothesis is true or false. The experiment must be a fair one with controlled variables and should be repeated more than once to ensure accuracy.

Analyze the Data: This step occurs at the end of the experiment. After all of the data is collected, it is then analyzed to test whether the original hypothesis is, in fact, true. Often scientists will test a hypothesis only to find it was false, at which point they can design a new hypothesis and repeat the process again.

Present Results: In order to complete a science project, it is necessary to present the results to the judges or the homeschooling parent. This can be accomplished in a number of ways including written reports, oral presentations, a display board or any combination there of.

Correcting and Tracking Changes During the Scientific Method

Though the scientific method is presented as a series of steps, it is important to remember the ability exists to go back a step or several steps in order to make changes or repeat a process. As long as the variables remain constant throughout the process, repeating steps will not falsify the results of a project; however it may be helpful to maintain a journal as a means of tracking any changes made or steps that have been repeated.