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Scientific Method

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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.

3 Responses to Scientific Method

  1. Alex

    Hi! This site helped me so much with my science experiment. Thankyou

  2. Archy Mohabir

    I really need help.I’m making a science fair project about mixing oil and water and I really need help on making a science fair backboard while following the science fair project guidelines that was posted on this site.Please help me.
    P.S. What is an independent,depent,and collected variable?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Independent variable is the “thing” you changed in the experiment.

      Dependent variable is the “thing” you measured as the result of the change you made in the independent variable.

      Collected variable? I think you might mean “controlled variables“? those would be all the things you don’t really care about so you keep them the same between trials with and without changes in the independent variable

      Without more details on what you did, I can’t identify your specifics. But, let’s say you did:

      QUESTION: What is the effect of salinity on the temperature at which water boils?
      HYPOTHESIS: As salinity increases, the temperature at which water boils will increase.
      EXPERIMENT: Change salinity, Measure Temperature

      Independent variable: salinity (the thing you changed)
      Depended variable: temperature at boiling (the thing you measured)
      Controlled variables: Volume of Water, Type of pot, Type of heat source, Amount of salt, Type of Salt

      Hope that helps…

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