1.1 Method of Scientific Investigation

Scientific Method

  1. The scientific method or scientific process is fundamental to scientific investigation and to the acquisition of new knowledge based upon physical evidence by the scientific community. 
  2. Scientists use observations and reasoning to propose tentative explanations for natural phenomena, termed hypotheses.
  3. The scientific method is a systematic approach to research. It consists of the following steps:
    1. Identifying problem
    2. Making hypothesis
    3. Planning the investigation
    4. Identifying and Controlling Variable
    5. Conducting the experiment
    6. Collecting and recording data
    7. Analysing and interpreting data
    8. Making conclusion
    9. Preparing the report

Steps in the Scientific Method

Making observation

  1. An investigation usually begins with an observation on a phenomenon.
  2. Observation is to observe and gather the information about the phenomenon.

Making an Inference

  1. After gathering sufficient information, we make an inference, or early conclusion, based on what has been observed.
  2. The inference may or may not be true and need to be proven true or false with further investigation.
  3. Making an inference is a process to form an early logical conclusion to explain the phenomenon.

Identifying problem

Asking question based on the inference made to identify the problem related to the observation.

Making a hypothesis

  1. A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon.
  2. Normally, it is a general statement about the relationship between the manipulated variable and a responding variable in order to explain the question asked.

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Identifying variables

  1. A variable is a factor that affects other factors in an experiment.
  2. In a scientific investigation, we need to identify all related variables.
  3. There are three types of variable, namely
    1. Manipulated variable — the factor that is purposely changed in an experiment
    2. Responding variable — the factor that changes with the manipulated variable
    3. Fixed variables — the factors that are kept constant throughout an experiment. This is to ensure that other factors do not affect the results of the experiment.

Controlling variables

  1. Deciding how to repeat the experiment several times by using different values of the manipulated variable.
  2. This step is to test the consistency in the experiment and also to relate the manipulated variable to the responding variable..

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Designing the experiment

  1. Deciding how to carry out the experiment, including determine the material, apparatus, experiment sets out and the procedure to take.
  2. Always keep in mind that the main purpose of the experiment is to o test the hypothesis.

Carrying Out the Experiment

After the planning of the experiment is done, you will need to carry out the experiment according to the procedure.

Collecting data

  1. Make observations in the experiment by watching and measuring.
  2. Measure the quantities accurately using suitable measuring instruments and units.
  3. All data are collected and recorded in a proposed table.

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Analysing and interpreting data

  1. After collecting the data, you will need to analyse the results of the experiment.
  2. Data analysis is the step to studies information by breaking it down into smaller parts.
  3. The results can be presented in various forms, such as a table, graph or chart.

Making a conclusion

  1. Draw conclusions based on the observations and results.
  2. State whether the hypothesis is true or false.

Writing the report

  1. A report is written after an experiment is performed.
  2. The format of the report is arranged based on the scientific investigation method which is performed systematically; starting from the problems identified to the last stage.
  3. State any precautions taken to overcome problems in the experiment.
  4. A simple diagram of the experiment set-up would sometime be useful.