The Methods of Science

What is Science?

studies the natural world
discovers knowledge
discovers nature's "rules" about how things work
only deals with natural phenomena and natural causes
*excludes supernatural

Branches of Science
1. Life science (biology, microbiology, botany, evolution) deals with living things
2. Earth science (geology, meteorology) - earth, space,
rocks, volcanoes, weather
3. Physical science (chemistry, physics) - matter, energy,
gravity, light, sound

Scientific Method
A step by step process where a scientist investigates a
question by observing and performing experiments.
Step 1 - State the problem or pose a question
Step 2 - Gather information
(has someone already investigated this?)

Step 3 - Form a hypothesis -- a possible explanation or

Step 4 - Test the hypothesis with an experiment

Experiments have 2 variables
Independent variable - what you change

Responding variable (dependent) - what you measure

If you want to test the affect of fertilizer, you would add fertilizer
to a plant (independent variable) and measure how the plant
grows (responding variable)
A control is something you do nothing to,
used to compare your results
you will also have a plant that receives no fertilizer

Another way to look at it....
A title might look like this:

Extra Slide!

The effect of __________________________
(independent variable)
on ___________________________________
(responding variable)
A question might look like this......
How does __________________ effect _________________
(independent variable)

Think: The Independent variable is the thing that I changed.

Step 5 - Analyze data
Organize data into charts or graphs that can be read
by others

Step 6 - Draw Conclusions
Determine if hypothesis is supported or
If hypothesis is not supported - modify
If hypothesis is supported - repeat experiment

Scientific Method in Action

What is the best material for insulation? Question.
Investigate materials (wool, down, leather)
Form a hypothesis
Design and conduct experiment
Analyze data
Draw conclusions

Scientists sometimes use models to help visualize
phenomenon. The globe is a model you are familiar with.
Name some other

Pick A Question and Design an Experiment

Will human urine repel sharks?
Does the color red make lizards more aggressive?
Will fish grow larger if placed in a larger tank?
Does exercise reduce your risk of heart attack?
Does aspirin keep cut flowers fresh longer?
Step 1 - State the
problem or pose a
Step 2 - Gather

Step 3 - Form a
hypothesis -- a possible
explanation or
Step 4 - Test the
hypothesis with an

A THEORY is an explanation of why something
happens. It comes from many observations and
experiments. It can be changed with new data.
Examples: Germ Theory
Theory of Evolution
A LAW tells you what happens, like a rule of
Examples: Law of Gravity
Law of Thermodynamics

TECHNOLOGY is the application of science to help
We often thing of technology as things like
computers, but technology also includes things like

What are some other technologies?

What is Physics?
Physics is the study of the physical universe, from the basic structure of the
atom to how objects behave at rest and in motion. It is the basis for all other
sciences, and can be divided into several areas:
• Mechanics - the study of objects at rest and in motion
• Fluids - the study of how fluid substances (liquids and gases) behave
• Thermodynamics - the study of heat and heat transfer
• Waves - the study of wave motion and sound
• Optics - the study of light
• Electricity and Magnetism - the study of each of these and the
interactions between the two
• Modern Physics - includes a variety of modern topics including special
relativity, quantum mechanics, and nuclear physics.