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Education
Scientific Method
 

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lab, students should know...

What is the scientific method?

The scientific method is a framework for solving problems, investigating the world around us, or describing phenomena.

How is the scientific method used?

Everyone uses it to solve day-to-day problems, but scientists use it to prove or disprove hypotheses in order to further our understanding of the natural world.

What is a hypothesis?

A hypothesis is a well-considered suggestion as to the outcome of an experiment. It is always based on prior knowledge about a system. A null hypothesis is one that is thought to be the opposite of true, so it can then be falsified (shown to be false).

What is a variable and what are the different types?

Controlled or independent variables are under the researcher’s control and should be held constant between all experimental groups. Dependent or response variables are a way of measuring the outcome of modifying the independent variables.

What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative data?

Qualitative data is essentially a list of observations made to describe a system or phenomenon, whereas quantitative data involves the collection of numerical data which can be statistically analyzed.

List of Materials

  • Scissors
    1
  • Ruler
    5
  • White paper
    5
  • Tree branches (minimum)
    5 per group
  • Leaf clippers
    1 per station
  • Precision balance
    Dependent on the lab size

Lab Prep

  1. Demonstrating the Scientific Method with Tree Branches
    • Obtain branches containing a few dozen typical leaves from five different local tree species. The branches should represent a range of leaf and tree types.
    • Label each branch and leaf with their species name.
    • Distribute the branches to the students, so that each student has access to all five species.
    • Provide some background information about the environment from which each branch was collected.

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