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Scientific Inquiry


Scientific Inquiry 08.24.07 / 08.27.07 Recap We make an observation, ask a question, and then make a hypothesis. A hypothesis must be _____. So, how do we do that? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Scientific Inquiry

Scientific Inquiry
  • 08.24.07 / 08.27.07

  • We make an observation, ask a question, and then
    make a hypothesis.
  • A hypothesis must be __________.
  • So, how do we do that?

Scientific Inquiry
  • Experiments (aka controlled experiments)
  • the research is conducted in a controlled
    setting to prevent more than one variable from
    affecting the outcome.
  • Investigations
  • used when controlled experiments are not

Scientific Inquiry
  • As the research is conducted, data are gathered.
  • The data are then analyzed to reach a conclusion
  • Either the data support the hypothesis or the
    data refute the hypothesis. But, the data never
    prove the hypothesis.

Scientific Inquiry
  • If the data support the hypothesis, we keep the
    hypothesis for more testing. After all, it wasnt
    proven, just supported.
  • If the data refute the hypothesis, we reject the
    hypothesis or modify it to fit the data. Then we
    test some more.

Scientific Progress
  • Scientific knowledge is gained through
  • -- Following systematic steps
  • Collecting facts (observing)
  • Developing a hypothesis
  • Researching (experiments / investigations)
  • Reexamining the hypothesis to support, modify, or
  • -- Theories that withstand examination
  • -- Totally unexpected occurrences

The outline
  • So, scientists generally
  • Make observations
  • Ask a question
  • Form a hypothesis
  • Test the hypothesis
  • Analyze the results
  • Draw conclusions
  • Communicate results (Its not done until its

ask a question
make observations
form a hypothesis
analyze the results
test the hypothesis
draw conclusions Do they support the hypothesis?
communicate results
Note You can always move backward, too.
  • Inventing hypotheses or theories to imagine how
    the world works and then figuring out how they
    can be put to the test of reality is as creative
    as writing poetry, composing music, or designing
  • F. James Rutherford Andrew Ahlgren. (1990).
    Science for all Americans. New York Oxford
    University Press.

  • Why cant scientists always progress in an exact
    sequence of steps through their research process?
  • Why is it sometimes necessary to go backward in
    the research process?

Scientific Research
  • Scientists measure their variables.
  • Experiments have two types of variables
  • independent variable
  • purposely changed to look for a resulting
    change in the dependent
  • dependent variable
  • measured to detect change as a result of

Scientific Research
  • I wonder how I can get better grades in science?
  • I think if I take notes in science, Ill do
    better on tests.
  • Ill take notes during the next unit (independent
  • Ill see if taking notes affects my grade on the
    unit test (dependent variable).

Scientific Research
  • Measurements need to be as accurate and precise
    as possible.
  • Measurement tools need to be reliable and valid.

Scientific Research
  • Experiments have two types of variables, and all
    other factors are kept constant, as much as
  • The constants are the control variables.
  • Experiments have a control. The control acts as a
    standard for comparison.

Scientific Research
  • In my test of note-takings affect on grades, I
    need to control as many other factors as possible
    (e.g., keep subject the same from one test to
    another, keep difficulty the same, do all other
    studying just as before, etc).

Scientific Research
  • I need to make sure my measurements are accurate
    and precise.
  • Does the test accurately measure how much I
  • Does the test measure precisely enough to detect
    differences? For example, a grade is more
    precise than a letter grade.

Scientific Research
  • I need to make sure my measurements are reliable
    and valid.
  • A reliable test will give the same results every
    time it is used for the same purpose.
  • A broken clock is reliable.
  • A valid test correctly measures what it was
    designed to measure.
  • An properly working atomic clock is valid.

Scientific Research
  • Does my science test give reliable results? If I
    take it in the morning, will the results be the
    same if I take it in the afternoon?
  • Does my science test give valid results? Does the
    grade I receive on the test truly report my
    learning of the content of the unit?
  • A valid measure must be reliable, but a measure
    can be reliable without being valid.

  • What is the difference between reliability and
  • What is the difference between accuracy and
  • Why are reliability, validity, accuracy and
    precision important in science?

Scientific Research
  • Ideally, wed have a control group.
  • One group of students, randomly selected, would
    take notes during class. Another group, randomly
    selected, would not take notes. The second group
    is the control group.
  • Then, wed compare test scores at the end of the
    unit. Did the test group (took notes) do better
    than the control group?

Scientific Research
  • If the test group averages higher test grades
    than the control group, our hypothesis has been
    supported, but not proven.
  • If the test group does not earn higher grades,
    than the hypothesis has not been supported.

  • 1) What are the major branches of science?
  • 2) How do these branches work interdependently to
    help us understand the world?
  • 3) Explain why science is considered a process.
  • 4) What do these terms mean?
  • hypothesis, experiment, investigation, theory,
    law, control, variable

  • Design an experiment to test the hypothesis
    Pine floats better than oak.
  • What are your variables?
  • What is your control?
  • What variables will need to be controlled?
  • What will you measure? What tools will you need
    to use?
  • Make sure to discuss issues of accuracy,
    precision, reliability and validity.

  • Plan an experiment to test this hypothesis
  • 32 psi is the optimal tire pressure for a 2007
    Ford Focus 4-doors gas mileage.