Scientific method in problem solving

Scientific method in problem solving

Science is a method of obtaining knowledge about nature. Science involves the observation and examination of nature to understand and describe aspects of it. Science seeks to answer certain kinds of questions about nature.

Scientists use the scientific method in attempting to explain nature. The scientific method is a means of critical thinking, gathering information and testing ideas. It is the way a scientist tries to find answers to his/her questions about nature. Although the procedure can vary, the scientific method consists of the steps given below.

Steps of the scientific method

1. Identifying the problem – a problem cannot be solved if it is not understood.

2. Generating a hypothesis – a possible solution to the problem after sufficient information has been gathered about the problem.

3. Testing the hypothesis – an experiment is a set of organized procedures to identify whether the hypothesis solves the problem. Experiments are done to gather information. It is important that good observations and recordings are made during an experiment.

4. Drawing conclusions – after evaluating the data collected from the experiment, conclusions can be drawn. In its simplest form, the conclusion can be drawn as “yes” hypothesis true or “no” hypothesis false.

If the hypothesis is proven wrong, you must find the wrong one in the hypothesis. This may cause you to hypothesize about your hypothesis.

Scientific Theory – the generally accepted explanation of a concept or broad explanation of a natural phenomenon.

Scientific Law or Principle – an unchanging definition of a natural phenomenon.

Experiment Design – A plan by the researcher to test the validity of a hypothesis.

The design of any scientific research is the logical framework that guides the collection and evaluation of information.  Hard work and reflection are essential in developing a hypothesis and experiment that will yield good results. A scientist's ability to ask key questions and translate them into testable hypotheses can largely define the success or failure of the identified research project.

Three factors are necessary for a good experimental design

Appropriate controls should be placed in each experiment. A control group is treated the same as the experimental group, except for the tested factor.

Experiments should be repeated enough to allow comparisons between control and experimental groups. In line with these repetitions, the data can be compared statistically and a high degree of precision is obtained.

Experiments should be designed without bias. A researcher should avoid personal opinions about a hypothesis that might affect how tests are conducted. He should also be able to use any tool or technique that can elicit the outcome of an experiment.

Doing the Experiment

Researchers are people who take meticulous notes. They keep detailed notes in a logbook that will become the scientific diary of the research project in progress. The data obtained during the experiment are meticulously recorded. There are two types of data:

Qualitative data – This data type is non-numerical in nature. Qualitative data can be observed and recorded. Qualitative data is the descriptive and conceptual findings collected through questionnaires, interviews, or observation. 

Quantitative data – This data type is used to answer questions such as “How many?”, “How often?”, “How much?”. This data can be verified and can also be conveniently evaluated using mathematical techniques.

Collecting data is a time-consuming, tedious, and demanding process, but it is a necessary component of science. After collecting all the data, the researcher tries to find the relationship between the data.

Interpreting data by asking critical questions is necessary to identify the effects and causes of experimental observations. When the results of repeated tests are consistent, the next step is to report the results.

Reporting Experimental Results

Researchers form their ideas with data analysis, and then explain these ideas in seminars and private meetings. During these presentations, the researcher has the opportunity to meet other researchers in his field and can discuss his scientific studies with them. The researcher then decides if more experiments are needed or if it's time to publish the results.

Publishing a scientific paper is the next step in reporting transactions. After a scientific publication is prepared, it is sent to the publishing house. The publisher sends the article to the referees. Reviewers recommend corrections after reviewing the article. After the researcher makes corrections, the article is now ready to be published. The published work is now accessible and readable by scientists around the world.

I prepared a "Scientific Method" poster that you can use in your classrooms. You can find two sizes (A4 and A3) of this poster. Click on the pictures to download the PDF version of the document.

Click to download the A4 poster 

Click to download the A3 poster

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