Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by ChaRiayh. ChaRiayh Wonders, “What is the Scientific Method” Thanks for WONDERing with us, ChaRiayh!

Isn’t nature WONDERful? There’s nothing like spending a sunny day exploring outside. Think about the last time nature made you curious. Perhaps it was something you saw for the first time. Maybe it was something an animal did. Whatever it was, it made you WONDER and a question probably popped into your mind.

Did you find the answer to your question? How did you go about learning more about the thing that made you WONDER? You might have asked a friend, family member or a teacher. You may have grabbed the nearest computer or smartphone. Then, you used the power of the Internet to answer your question.

The Internet is a powerful tool. It puts so much of the world’s information right at our fingertips. But what would you have done before the Internet came along? How would you have answered questions about the world around you hundreds of years ago?

Most of the world’s scientists and inventors didn’t have today’s technology. And that’s probably a good thing. They came up with their own methods to explore the world around them. This led them to great discoveries and ways of doing things. It laid a foundation for modern science.

What are we talking about? The scientific method, of course! You may have heard that term before in your science classes. The scientific method is how scientists learn about and study the world around them. When you learn about the scientific method, you’re really learning about how to learn!

The great thing about the scientific method is that it’s so basic. Sometimes, science can seem complex. But the scientific method can help you study whatever you WONDER about. You can learn about anything from a frog or a tree to Mars or an entire galaxy.

The scientific method really boils down to questions and answers. The world is full of questions. Scientists use the scientific method to answer the questions they have.

There are many different ways to explain the scientific method. Many people break it down into six basic steps:

  • Identify a question or a problem.

  • Do your research. Make observations and collect information.

  • Form a hypothesis. Come up with your best guess about the answer to your problem or question.

  • Test your hypothesis. Perform experiments to figure out whether your best guess is correct.

  • Analyze the results of your experiments.

  • Come to a conclusion and present your results to others.

All scientific study begins with a curious mind. What problems do you see around you that need solutions? What questions come to mind as you look at the world?

Once you have a problem or question, you need to collect information. Today, research is much easier thanks to the Internet. Real scientific study, though, will almost always take you beyond the Internet. You’ll need to make real-world observations.

Based on what you find, you’ll need to form a hypothesis. This is often called an “educated guess.” It’s your best idea of what the answer to your question or problem is.

How can you make your hypothesis more than a guess? You need to test it. That means an experiment. Science experiments come in all shapes and sizes. They don’t always need a lab with beakers full of chemicals. Experiments may happen in social situations at home, school, or in a mall.

Scientists just need to make sure that their experiment is designed to test their hypothesis. It should also exclude other events that could shape or affect the outcome. Once you have finished an experiment—or many experiments!—you’ll need to analyze your results to see if your hypothesis was correct.

Then, it’s time to present your results to others. Scientific study is most valuable when its results are shared with the world. Other scientists may use your results as a starting point for more research.

What if your hypothesis wasn’t correct? Use your results to help you alter your hypothesis and then test it again. After all, the only mistakes in science are the ones you don’t learn from!

Standards: NGSS.ETS1.A, NGSS.ETS1.C, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2

Wonder What's Next?

Machines are meant to make our lives simpler, right? Not always! Wonderopolis takes a closer look at some interesting and complex contraptions tomorrow!