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The scientific method is the process scientists use to answer questions and solve problems. The scientific method is equivalent to the “rules” of a sport or game. The basic rules needed to complete a science fair project are listed below. – But be forewarned, just like in sports, if players do not follow the rules, there are penalties (i.e., points off at judging). As the coach you need to understand the process so you can guide your child and avoid the common pitfalls.
• STEP 1. Do some RESEARCH on a topic of interest, make an OBSERVATION about a variable from that subject, and then ask a QUESTION based on the observation made.
Note: Where and Why questions are difficult to answer with a science fair project, so guide your student toward How questions, for example: How does this variable affect that variable? And What questions such as: What is the impact of this variable on that variable?
• STEP 2. State a HYPOTHESIS (a prediction) that answers the question asked
• STEP 3. Design an EXPERIMENT to test the hypothesis stated
Identify the independent, dependent, and constant/controlled variables
Ensure the dependent variable is quantitative (measurable)
Include the appropriate control (it must “control” for the independent variable)
Replicate experiment at least 3 times (collect data)
• STEP 4. Analyze the RESULTS (data) to determine if the hypothesis should be accepted or rejected
• STEP 5. Make a CONCLUSION (accept or reject the hypothesis); The conclusion is often the next observation so finish the project by suggesting the next experiment that could be done.